TV Academy Honors: Celebrating the instrument that can teach, illuminate and inspire

Shaffner ZIskin “This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire,” Edward R. Murrow famously said of the small screen.

Thursday night’s second annual Television Academy Honors presentation at the BevHills Hotel devoted to celebrating a clutch of writers and producers who took Murrow’s observation to heart. The night was dedicated to Bea Arthur, in recognition of how her fearless portrayals of strong women have influenced generations of viewers.

TV Acad Honors, presented to programs that designed to raise awareness of social issues and effect change, is the brainchild of TV Academy chairman John Shaffner, who wanted to find a way to recognize worthy programs outside of the competitive frenzy of the Emmy Awards derby.

“When we take the time to take a step back and look at the incredible work that’s done on television and the passion that goes in to it from the people who feel like they have to tell these stories — it’s just inspiring,” said Shaffner. Spurlock 2

“We feel it’s important to highlight the impact that television can have so that all of us  (working in TV) have the chance to feel that we’re putting our shoulder to a wheel that matters. When you combine concern and passion for a subject that matters to the skills that we bring as a creative community to telling that story to millions of people … It’s just the magic of television,” he enthused.

This year’s honors were CBS’ 10th annual broadcast CBS adoption-themed concert special “A Home for the Holidays”; HBO’s “Breaking the Huddle,” a docu about the integration of college football; ABC’s “Brothers and Sisters” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”; “God on Trial,” PBS’ “Masterpiece Contemporary” telepic; “Stand Up to Cancer,” the Laura Ziskin-produced telethon that ran on ABC, CBS and NBC last September; Morgan Spurlock’s FX docu series “30 Days”; and Animal Planet’s “Whale Wars.”

(Pictured above left, John Shaffner and Laura Ziskin. Pictured right, Morgan Spurlock)