The Paley Center first celebrated African-American achievements in television at the inaugural New York City event this past May. After a wildly successful night, the nonprofit media organization knew a Los Angeles-based fete had to be planned.
“What was so remarkable is that in the weeks that followed, we were inundated with folks who asked, ‘Are you going to have a Hollywood tribute to African Americans in television?’ The excitement and the energy is more than anything I’ve ever seen,” Maureen Reidy, president and CEO at The Paley Center for Media, tells Variety.
This season’s same event, The Paley Center for Media’s Hollywood Tribute to African-American Achievements in Television, presented by JPMorgan Chase & Co., held Monday night at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, will welcome the likes of “Black-ish” star Anthony Anderson, “Empire’s” Terrence Howard, Tyler Perry, Tyra Banks and “Selma’s” Ava DuVernay.
Attendees will present clips from the Paley archives that showcase the most important and influential moments from the past seven decades, ranging from sports, news, music, comedy and drama.
“We tell the story through these very powerful video packages from our archives, which really take you on this journey and a trip down memory lane,” Reidy says. “You see the icons and innovators, the shows, the series that really paved the way and made an impact over these years.”
Among those icons are Diahann Carroll and Quincy Jones, who will both be honored at the event. Jones’ tribute, during the music portion of the night, will be presented by Anderson and Howard, resulting in a fun “Hustle & Flow” reunion. “He’s a living legend and we’re very excited to have him with us that night,” Reidy comments of Jones, who will take the stage.
The event falls on the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and also on BET’s 35th anniversary year, though Reidy says it was the most recent Academy Awards that truly inspired the bi-coastal gala. “We always like to tie in with important historical milestones,” she says. “The idea is really coming out of the Oscars where no people of color were nominated and ‘Selma’ was snubbed. Our programming folks said, we have these important historical moments and we can stand up and the television industry can come together and pay out respects and have a tribute to these very important African American achievements in television.”
The Paley Center’s tribute committee, which includes HBO’s Michael Lombardo, Sony’s Steve Mosko, NBC’s Robert Greenblatt, CBS’s Nina Tassler and Leslie Moonves, will all be in attendance. Reidy describes the board as the “most influential leaders in Hollywood,” explaining that their involvement sheds light on the importance and relevance of the expected turn of events Monday night. JPMorgan Chase, the premiere sponsor, also has an important tie-in, as the company launched The Fellowship Initiative to educate young men of color and will be bringing a slew of their young fellows to Paley’s soiree.
“These annual events are important fundraisers for us, as is with every nonprofit out there, and we wanted to do something that really fit with our mission to preserve our media history and to showcase the importance and impact of media on our culture, and that was impactful and meaningful,” Reidy says, noting that the event is not just a “one-time-only thing,” but rather adds to Paley’s African-American archival collection and programming committed to diversity.
Reidy continues, “Anyone who is in the television industry will be so proud because the night truly shows how television, more than any other medium, serves to dispel negative stereotypes, educate audiences and bring people together — that’s at the core of our mission, and it’s at the core of this evening.”