Television mega-fans gathered Sunday night to honor icons John Stamos, Debbie Allen and Norman Lear for their contributions to history, both on and off the screen at the first TV Land Icon Awards. Hosted by George Lopez, the event took a playful and touching look back at the careers that have helped to change the face of television.
Honored with the Timeless Icon Award for his extensive career, John Stamos was joined by his co-stars and friends for the evening. “He’s had the spectrum of a career that a lot of performers dream of having, and I’m so proud of him,” said “Full House” co-star Dave Coulier.
“He’s lovely,” Paget Brewster said of her “Grandfathered” co-star, “otherwise I wouldn’t be here because these things make me nervous. He’s a really funny, kind, generous, thoughtful guy, which is kind of gross that anyone that good looking is also going to be talented at stuff – and nice!”
“I thought it was undeserving but I guess I’ve been around a long time,” Stamos told Variety. “All I wanted was to be on a show like ‘Happy Days,’” he said, sharing how he had once snuck onto the Paramount lot to watch the cast rehearse. “All I ever wanted to do on TV was be on a show like Garry Marshall’s.”
Marshall, Stamos’ “show business godfather,” presented him with the award. “He gives me a lot of credit because I suggested him for – what was the name of that show? – ‘Full House!’”
“I feel like I owe this and everything good in my life to the people who surround me with love,” Stamos said, accepting the statuette. The actor choked up a bit when thanking his family, co-stars and friends, as well as the fans “who have been watching me since ‘General Hospital’ and allowed me to come into your living rooms…and I promise I never take that for granted.”
To celebrate, Stamos joined his longtime friends The Beach Boys at the drum set, for a rousing performance of their hit “Barbara Ann.”
“Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane was on hand to present the Impact Icon Award to the evening’s most prolific honoree, Norman Lear, whose career has delivered such classics as “All in the Family,” “Maude” and “The Jeffersons,” and subsequently launched hundreds of careers from cameramen to actors and directors.
“Norman Lear is either an inspiration or a horrific vision of the future in which you never stop working,” MacFarlane joked before getting right to the core of Lear’s work. “It’s amazing how Norman’s shows from 40 years ago address race, sexuality, income inequality in a more open, candid and progressive way than shows do now. Through his thoughtful presentation, Norman has done more to advance race, gender and sexual inequality than any politician, member of the clergy and even Supreme Court justice.”
“I have two words,” Lear said, accepting the award. “Holy s—. Life is a great collaboration. I’ve worked with so many great people, trust me when I say, my success is one giant collaboration and I thank you for that.”
Lear was honored with a champagne toast led by Jane Lynch, and a performance of a medley of the beloved theme songs from his shows, by “Glee” star Amber Riley and “The Voice” winner Javier Colon, in addition to numerous standing ovations.
With a high-energy dance tribute to “Fame,” Debbie Allen was honored with the Trailblazer Icon Award, not only for her strides in entertainment, but also for her charitable work bringing the arts to schools. “From the very start of her career on Broadway, she has followed her passions, chased her dreams and never let a ‘no’ get in her way,” said presenter Ellen Pompeo, who both stars with and is directed by Allen on “Grey’s Anatomy.”
“I can’t begin to tell you how much I feel in this moment,” said Allen, thanking her family and the long list of individuals who “helped me to get where I am.” She gave special note to “Fame,” “for letting me become this director, producer, choreographer and actress who traveled the world with these wonderful children. I know we were the grandmother of ‘Glee.’”
“Better Caul Saul’s” Bob Odenkirk presented a touching tribute to comedian Garry Shandling, who unexpectedly died in March, declaring him “an icon for the ages.”
Comedy team Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele were awarded for making their mark on television with “Key & Peele,” which wrapped it’ five-season run in 2015. “We’re extremely humbled by the company we’re in,” said Key as the duo thanked Lear for “paving the way” for their careers.
The Icon Awards also honored Ryan Murphy and FX’s hit “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” for its quick and deep impact on television, and “The Big Bang Theory” star Jim Parsons, who was voted favorite iconic TV character by fans.
The TV Land Icon Awards air at 9 p.m. on Sunday, April 17 on TV Land.
(Pictured: Garry Marshall, John Stamos, Norman Lear)