Thesps from “Scandal,” “Breaking Bad,” “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” mingled with documentary filmmakers, news producers, Tom Brokaw and Anthony Bourdain Monday at the Peabody Awards, the TV industry’s most eclectic annual kudos ceremony.
The 46 winners, the most in org’s 73-year history, were chosen from more than 1,100 entries by the 16-member Peabody board and presented at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Awards are not given in categories; the sole criteria for winning is excellence in storytelling.
“I hope somebody warned you,” host Ira Glass, of “This American Life,” told the crowd. “I was going over the script yesterday and I was like, (this show) is really long. There’s no way around it.”
Veteran NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw received the org’s achievement award recognizing his long career in journalism.
“This is a humbling moment for me,” Brokaw said. “If you live long enough these kind of awards come to you and/or you get cancer. Turns out, I ended up getting both. It’s going to work out. Life is going to be OK because I’m in the enviable position of getting the best treatment in the world and it has made me much more conscious of what a privilege it is to have the kind of job that I have.”
Brokaw went on to tell the crowd that “we are living through the most transformative time in the history of journalism.” “It’s not just about 140 characters,” Brokaw said. “It’s not just about who you are going to meet for coffee. It’s about serving mankind with the information they need to know to make good decisions about their lives.”
“House of Cards” showrunner Beau Willimon accepted the show’s trophy on behalf of the cast and crew.
“As David Fincher always says, ‘Cast well and get the hell out of the way,” Willimon said. “We’d be nowhere without our cast.” After recognizing Netflix as the company “who has really changed the game,” Willimon acknowledged fellow honoree, documentary “The Invisible War,” about sexual assault in the U.S. military, which he said inspired a storyline in “House of Cards'” second season.
Bryan Cranston accepted the second Peabody given to AMC’s “Breaking Bad.”
“Seven years ago Vince Gilligan had this idea of turning a good man into a bad one,” Cranston said. “He played this parlor game that we’ve all played at home: ‘What would you do if you had two years to live? How would you live your life?’ Walter White lived that in his own world. On behalf of everybody (from the show), who I thought were going to follow me up to the stage but didn’t, we greatly appreciate (this award).”
The crowd got out of their seats when three subjects from “The Central Park Five” took the stage alongside director Ken Burns. Doc tells the story of the five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in New York City’s Central Park in 1989. While the Academy didn’t acknowledge the well-received PBS doc, Burns compared receiving the Peabody to getting to the “top of Everest.”
Anthony Bourdain, a winner for his CNN series “Parts Unknown,” gave a shout-out to the all-news cabler and its leader, Jeff Zucker, who has faced a critical scorching in recent months for some of its programming choices.
“We handed in some difficult and risky material to the network and (Zucker) has been a steadfast friend. So I’m very, very grateful to Jeff in particular,” Bourdain said.
Cabler Pivot will air highlights of the Peabody ceremony next month. The Peabodys are based at the University of Georgia.
(Pictured: “Breaking Bad’s” Bryan Cranston, Betsy Brandt and R.J. Mitte)