NATPE’s inaugural Reality Breakthrough Awards was low on star power but had hokey charm to spare. Host Howie Mandel set an irreverent tone that fit the proceedings.
“It’s awards season. I told my agent to get me an awards show to host. I got a buffet in Miami at noon — am I a Jew from Canada or what,” Mandel joked at the Tuesday luncheon at the Fontainebleau Hotel, where the NATPE confab runs through Thursday.
Out of five categories, talent from two of the shows were present. “Shark Tank” won the reality-competition series category — and coincidentally (or not) the ABC series was also a featured in “Case Study” showcase at the conference later in the day.
“Shark Tank” exec producer Clay Newbill thanked ABC and Sony Pictures TV for hanging in with the show before it blossomed into a hit. He also thanked “the entrepreneurs who come up every day and pitch their hearts out and try to get money from these tough bastards,” gesturing to “sharks” Kevin O’Leary and Daymond John, who were also on hand. Fellow “shark” Mark Cuban was roaming around the confab on Tuesday but didn’t make the luncheon.
Mandel had free rein from NATPE chief Rod Perth to poke fun at the affair. He pointed out that the ballroom had been cut in half by a makeshift wall. “When (producer) Phil Guerin told me he was going to wedge an awards show into the program, I didn’t realize he was literally going to wedge it in. Maybe next year we’ll get the other half of the room.”
USA Network’s “Chrisley Knows Best” won for docu-soap. Patriarch Todd Chrisley (pictured) was in the house — it’s a short hop to Miami from his home base in Atlanta, after all.
CNN’s “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” added another trophy to its case, scoring in the factual program category. Bourdain’s win was accepted with heartfelt thanks by Jon Adler, CNN’s associate director of series development.
NBC’s “Hollywood Game Night” won for game show. Host Jane Lynch and exec producers Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner were nowhere to be found, but NBC represented with Edward Swindler, prexy of NBCU Domestic TV Distribution and NBC Domestic Broadcast Operations. He sent along Bob Greenblatt’s best and assured that NBC’s “relentlessly perky” president of alternative and latenight, Paul Telegdy, was happy to be working on a third season of “Game Night.”
Discovery Channel’s “Naked and Afraid” took the trophy for reality format. Andrew Whitney, Discovery’s senior director of development, said the glory belonged to the crew who faced “shooting in the least hospitable places on Earth for 21 days.”
With no dance numbers, no orchestra and no long walks to the stage, NATPE’s Reality Breakthrough Awards were over almost as soon as they started.
“This has been incredibly tiring,” Mandel joked. “You have no idea how draining this is. We will see you for another 10 minutes next year.”
Perth had a good sense of humor about the whole thing. “You’ve got to start somewhere,” he said with a smile. “We really do want to honor these great reality shows.”