Finalists for this year’s Media Access Awards of the California Governor’s Committee for Employment of Disabled Persons have been announced in all categories, including feature film, television, theater, public affairs and public service announcements, commercials, print advertising, documentaries and educational films.
The Media Access Awards, now in their 16th year, honor individuals, programs, production companies and corporations who have helped eliminate stereotypes by accurately portraying persons with disabilities and increasing employment opportunities for professionals with disabilities in the entertainment industry.
Winners will be announced at a ceremony Jan. 28 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
In addition, the MAA recently announced winners of Media Access Awards scholarships and honorary awards. Winners include David Balkan, who received the MAA’s first Joan Young Memorial Award, presented in conjunction with the Writers Guild of America West to a writer who has exhibited extraordinary persistence in meeting the challenge of a disability while successfully pursuing a career, and demonstrated a commitment to improving access for all writers with disabilities.
Balkan, co-chair of the WGAW Disability Committee, has been executive producer on such television series as “Hunter” and is currently on staff of “The Sentinel.”
Wendy Riche will receive the Michael Landon Award, which honors a person who has consistently advanced the positive portrayal of persons with disabilities. Riche, a former exec at ABC and Fox, is executive producer of “General Hospital,” and the creator and exec producer of “Port Charles.”
Actor Robert David Hall landed the Harold Russell Award, for his contributions to raising overall public awareness of the disability experience through the media. Hall’s acting credits include “Andersonville,” “High Incident” and “Brooklyn South.”
Finalists for the Christopher Reeve Scholarship for an actor with a disability are Cynthia Allen, Andrea Friedman, Dawn Grabowski, Anthony Natale and John Siciliano.
Finalists for the Saban Entertainment Scholarship for a young per-former with a disability include Heather Bandy, Nicci Barischoff, Micahel Seale and Maggie Thiesen.
Competing for the Norman G. Brooks/Geri Jewell Scholarship for a comedian with a disability are Jeff Charlebois, Jeanne Marie Demke, Kenny Johnson and Chris Sheridan.
The complete list of MAA finalists follows.
Telepics/miniseries: “Breaking Through” (ABC); “What Love Sees” (CBS); “George Wallace” (TNT); “Port Charles” (ABC); “Breaking the Surface” (USA); “In the Gloaming” (HBO).
Comedy series: “Ellen” (ABC); “Spin City” (CBS).
Dramatic series: “Touched by an Angel” (CBS); “Oz” (HBO); “ER” (NBC); “Chicago Hope” (CBS); “The Burning Zone” (UPN).
Children’s programs: “Gargoyle” (ABC); “Huggabug Club” (PBS); “USA High” (USA); “Caption This” (Media One); “Bong & Donnell” (HBO); “Extreme Ghostbusters” (syndicated).
Daytime drama: “General Hospital” No. 8547 and 8658; “Port Charles” No. 1 and 67.
News/newsmagazines/talk shows: “The Leeza Show”: “Sexy & Disabled,” “My Life Changed in an Instant” “Born With a Bad Gene”;
“Dateline”: “No Way In/J. Hockenberry Reporting”;
E! Entertainment News, coverage of the play “Courting Darkness”
KCAL/Channel 9 News: coverage of “Courting Darkness.”
Features: “Niagara, Niagara,” “Speed 2: Cruise Control,” “Good Luck.”
Documentaries/education films: “Storm Reading,” “Breathing Lessons,” “Music for Your Eyes,” “Unforgotten: 25 Years After Willowbrook.” “How to Talk to a Person Who Can’t Hear.”