Larry King to host awards lunch in Gotham

HBO documentaries cleaned up in this year’s Peabody Awards derby, nabbing five out of seven trophies claimed by the pay cabler.

Also recognized were three primetime scripted skeins that have drawn critical plaudits: CBS’ “The Good Wife,” FX’s “Justified” and TNT’s “Men of a Certain Age.”

HBO’s docu wins came for “For Neda,” “12th and Delaware,” “Burma VJ: Reporting From a Closed Country” and “If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise,” as well as HBO Sports’ “Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals.” The pay cabler’s much-lauded WWII miniseries “The Pacific” and telepic “Temple Grandin” also nabbed kudos.

Other honorees included PBS’ “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers,” along with two “American Masters” episodes: John Lennon docu “LennoNYC” and Martin Scorsese’s tribute to Elia Kazan, “A Letter to Elia”; and the “American Experience” doc “My Lai.”

ESPN landed one for its “30 for 30″ docu series on sports in America, commissioned to cmmemorate the cabler’s 30th anniversary.

The U. of Georgia’s George Foster Peabody Awards, now in their 70th year, aim to highlight excellence in TV, radio and online media.

The haul of seven Peabodys in a single year is a new personal best for HBO.

“What is particularly rewarding about these seven wins is that they showcase the diversity of our programming mix,” said HBO programming prexy Michael Lombardo. “We couldn’t be happier.”

News programming honored included CNN’s coverage of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, C-SPAN, for its new online archive, and a seven radio honorees — including four programs from NPR. The Peabodys have no limit on the number of programs that can be honored each year.

The Peabodys also spotlighted foreign series airing on U.S. nets, including the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes update “Sherlock,” for the Steven Moffat-penned ep “A Study in Pink” (broadcast on PBS), and long-running Canadian high school drama “Degrassi” (which airs on TeenNick) for its “My Body is a Cage” two-parter.

Local TV productions recognized included “The Lord is Not on Trial Here Today,” a docu on separation of church and state issues by WILL-TV in Champaign, Ill.; and “Bitter Lessons,” an investigative report on vocational school scams by WFAA-TV Dallas.

The awards will be presented at a May 23 luncheon at Gotham’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel, to be hosted by Larry King.

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