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‘Cosmos,’ ‘Adventure Time,’ ‘Doc McStuffins’ Among Peabody Winners

The surreal Cartoon Network series “Adventure Time,” the ambitious “Cosmos” event from Fox and National Geographic Channel and a Netflix documentary on park rangers in Africa’s Congo trying to protect mountain gorillas from war and poaching are among the efforts that have been awarded Peabody Awards in documentary, public service and children’s programming categories.

This is the latest round of awards made. The organization, housed at University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, recognize excellence and meritorious work by radio and television stations, networks, webcasters, podcasters, producing organizations and individuals. The 18-member Peabody Board is a distinguished panel of television critics, industry practitioners and experts in culture and the arts. The group has already made awards in its news and entertainment categories.

The winners are as follows:

Citations for Documentary Winners

American Experience: Freedom Summer (PBS)

American Experience Films, WGBH Educational Foundation, Firelight Films

With archival images, animation and fresh interviews, “Freedom Summer” recalls the voter-registration “freedom rides” of 1964, a campaign planned and trained for like a Civil Rights D-Day. The documentary is not only inspiring and instructive, it holds surprises even for those who believe they know this epochal American story.

 Children on the Frontline (Channel 4)

ITN Productions

This “Dispatches” documentary addresses one of the most tragic facets of the civil war in Syria, the impact on the country’s children. Yet by focusing on five kids who go on learning and playing amid the chaos and danger, it becomes a powerful testament to resilience and adaptability.

Human Harvest: China’s Illegal Organ Trade (International Syndication) Flying Cloud Productions Inc.

With powerful testimonials about the intricacies of the trade and the human cost, including interviews with Chinese doctors who confide they’ve been coerced into removing organs from live political prisoners, this is a harrowing exposé of fiendish system of forced organ donor transplants.

Independent Lens: Brakeless

Brakeless LTD, Bungalow Town Productions, BBC, NHK, IKON, DR, Independent Television Service (ITVS)

A cautionary tale that vividly evokes a deadly, 2005 commuter-train crash in Japan as a metaphor to explore modern society’s relentless pursuit of speed and efficiency, it’s beautifully made and scored like a real-life thriller.

 Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown (HBO)

Jigsaw Productions, Jagged Films, Inaudible Films in association with HBO Documentary Films

Alex Gibney’s biography of the hardest working man in show business gets up and gets on the scene, telling a fascinating story about race and culture and politics with amazing archival clips and interviews with musicians who worked with him.

The Newburgh Sting (HBO)

Covert Productions in association with HBO Documentary Films and Impact Partners

A powerful, fascinating documentary, it uses archival surveillance video and eloquent, emotional interviews to deconstruct and discredit the case against four Newburgh, New Jersey, men lured into a would-be terrorist plot by a FBI informant in 2009.

 POV: American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs (PBS)

American Documentary | POV

Engaging on multiple levels, the documentary surveys the life of a Chinese American philosopher, writer and activist who devoted 75 years to the labor, civil rights, and black power movements. Now 98, with a grandmotherly smile, she’s a charismatic presence on camera and still a challenging thinker.

Soft Vengeance: Albie Sachs and the New South Africa (SABC 2, DStv, channel 190 / GOtv, channel 65)

Ginzberg Productions

Compelling and inspiring, this well-constructed documentary chronicles the life and times of a hero of the anti-apartheid movement who championed nonviolence even after he survived a car-bomb maiming.

 United States of Secrets (PBS)

FRONTLINE, in association with Kirk Documentary Group, Rain Media

With extensive, candid interviews from both critics and defenders, FRONTLINE provided a great public service, revealing in clear, comprehensible detail how the U.S. government in its post-9/11 zeal came to monitor and collect the communications of millions of people around the world – and here at home – and the lengths to which officials have gone to hide the massive surveillance from the public.

Virunga (Netflix)

Grain Media

An unusual but successful melding of investigative journalism and nature filmmaking, “Virunga” documents the work of courageous park rangers in the Congo to protect Africa’s mountain gorillas from war, poaching and industrial expansion.

 

Education

COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey (National Geographic Channel, FOX)

Fuzzy Door Productions and Cosmos Studios, Inc. in association with FOX Broadcasting Company and National Geographic Channel

An update of Carl Sagan’s famous series for the age of CGI, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “COSMOSs” is not only an educational, eye-popping, near-psychedelic tour of our universe and beyond, it’s a passionate brief on behalf of science itself.

 

 Public Service

Ebola (BBC World Service)

BBC World Service

An incredibly important and consequential response to a global crisis, this multi-pronged BBC World Service effort shrewdly employed a variety of platforms – Twitter, website and apps as well as radio – to keep Africans abreast of the epidemic’s advance and provide people the world over with reliable news.

 Entre el Abandono y el Rechazo (Between Abandonment and Rejection) (Univision Network)

Univision News

Reflecting the high level of public interest in abandoned children at the southern U.S. borders, Univision’s coverage provided multi-perspective context that’s often missing in mainstream media’s English-language reports. It skillfully combined an overview of the phenomenon while following one family whose child disappeared trying the cross the border.

 

Children’s Programming

 Adventure Time (Cartoon Network)

Cartoon Network Studios

An animated amalgam of sci-fi, fantasy, horror and fairy tale, it chronicles the escapades of an odd-looking human boy named Finn and his best friend, a shape-shifting dog named Jake, in the surreal Land of Ooo. Purely and wonderfully imaginative in manner of classic theatrical cartoons past, it entertains even as it subtly teaches lessons about growing up, accepting responsibility, and becoming who you’re meant to be.

Doc McStuffins (Disney Junior)

Brown Bag Films / Disney Junior

Charming, sweet and gently humorous, this animated series, featuring an African-American physician’s daughter who attends to damaged stuffed animals and other broken toys, calms children’s fears about doctor visits even as it promotes medicine as a profession.

 

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