MIAMI — Tom Selleck quoted Edna St. Vincent Millay. Jane Fonda thanked Ted Sarandos for giving her a new chapter of her storied career. Greg Berlanti thanked Tom Selleck for making short-shorts cool for men.
The 15th annual Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Awards ceremony, held Wednesday night at the Fontainebleau Hotel as part of the NATPE conference, was an emotional affair for the five honorees. In addition to Fonda, Selleck, and Berlanti, the recipients included Cesar Conde, chairman of NBCUniversal International and NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, and Kevin Reilly, president of TNT and TBS and chief creative officer of Turner.
The awards recognize executives and personalities who have made significant contributions to the industry.
Netflix chief content officer Sarandos was on hand to fete Fonda, star of the Netflix comedy “Grace & Frankie.” Sarandos hailed Fonda’s legacy as an activist and champion of the underprivileged. “In a world obsessed with celebrity, Jane Fonda has never taken hers for granted,” he said.
Fonda returned the compliment, thanking Sarandos for having “given me a life in television.” She acknowledged being a latecomer to the medium, but she is now true believer. “If you have something you want to say, television is where you want to go,” she said.
Conde was introduced by Gloria Estefan. She heralded his contributions to “raising the culture and also the business sense of Latinos” through his rise to the top ranks of Univision and now NBCUniversal. Conde recalled loving television in his youth and relating to a show like “Seinfeld” even though it depicted a world far removed from his experience as the son of immigrants.
Conde accepted the kudo as a “recognition of the rise and relevance of Hispanic programming overall.”
Warner Bros. TV Group president Peter Roth made the trek from Los Angeles to present the award to Berlanti. He noted the similarities between Tartikoff and the uber-producer behind CW’s “The Flash,” “Arrow,” “Supergirl,” NBC’s “Blindspot” and other TV shows and director of films including the upcoming “Love, Simon.” Berlanti and Tartikoff both qualify as “visionaries, ferocious competitors and passionate advocates for the best television has to offer,” Roth said.
Berlanti choked up as he pointed to his father in the audience and spoke of the loss of his mother last year to cancer. He said Tartikoff was the first network executive’s name he ever learned as a kid. Berlanti began his career as a TV writer in 1997, the same year Tartikoff died. On a lighter note, he also had a thank-you for Selleck and his “Magnum P.I.” legacy.
“As a closeted gay kid growing up in the ’80s I’d like to thank you for popularizing men wearing short shorts,” he said.
Reilly was introduced by Turner business operations chief Sandra Dewey, who described her boss as “a guy who’s constantly looking three steps down the road and trying to stomp on the paradigm of how we’ve done it before.”
Reilly recalled his introduction to Tartikoff when he was a green NBC staffer in the late 1980s. Today, Tartikoff would marvel at “the vast creative breadth of TV,” Reilly said. “It’s at the top of the culture and the entertainment food chain.”
The marketplace for content may be over-crowded but it is still an intoxicating business, Reilly said. “To have a hand in the narrative that’s unfolding right now, as crazy and competitive as it is, I can’t wait for what’s next,” he said.
Bridget Moynahan, Selleck’s co-star on the CBS drama “Blue Bloods,” praised the famed actor’s mix of style (“the camera loves his face, it always has”) and substance (“he has high values, a clear moral code and a desire to excel”).
Selleck reflected on his long career (“I was 35 years old when I got my first real job — that was ‘Magnum’ “) and the recent loss of his older brother, Bob Selleck. And he surprised the room by closing his remarks with a few lines from Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem “Love Is Not All.”
It may well be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution’s power
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It may well be. I do not think I would.
(Pictured: Host Maria Menounos, Greg Berlanti, Tom Selleck, Lilly Tartikoff, NATPE’s JP Bommel, Jane Fonda, Kevin Reilly, and Cesar Conde)