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My People’s Choice Awards

The Beverly Hilton’s International Ballroom shone brilliantly — as it always does for special industry events.

It was March 11, 1975 and it was for the first “People’s Choice Awards” show on CBS from Procter and Gamble and producer-creator Bob Stivers and Paul Keyes. The co-hosts were Richard Crenna and Yours Truly.

I remained a co-host and co-producer with the show for 30 years. We segued from locations including the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, the Shrine, the Barker Hangar, studio stages at Universal, Disney, Paramount, and Sony. This year’s show — which airs Tuesday, 9 p.m. on CBS — was taped Sunday night at the Andrita Stage near Glendale.

A $250,000 stage was built for Queen Latifah to introduce the 29 award winners tapes polled from the original 40 categories. Some were taped from as far away as England, Australia, Daytona Beach. George Clooney and Brad Pitt were among the last taped.

The first “Peoples Choice Awards winners included John Wayne, Barbra Streisand, Carol Burnett, Olivia Newton-John, Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Hope, “All In The Family,” Hank Aaron, Joe Namath, The Osmond Brothers,  “The Waltons,”  “Kojak,” “The Sting.”

Bob Finkel, who produced 10 “People’s Choice Awards” shows, two Oscars and 10 Emmys (he won three), recalls, “As producer of the NBC telecast of the Emmys in 1985, I was faced with the WGA strike and no stars appearing to present or accept Awards. I met with Rich Little who could imitate most of the celebrities and was willing to do all of them on the telecast. But NBC nixed the idea and Management members accepted the chore.

“In my memory, Tommy Lee Jones was the only actor to appear on the show. Rich Little was hysterical preparing to do the presenting and accepting — too bad it didn’t happen.” Maybe Bob can come up with another idea for this year’s awaiting shows?