The Television Academy held a star-studded gala Thursday night to unveil its redesigned North Hollywood campus and celebrate its 70th anniversary.
TV execs, stars and industry legends swarmed around the Academy’s new media center — named after Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl — and then piled into the state-of-the-art Wolf Theatre — titled after Dick and Noelle Wolf — as TV Academy chairman and CEO Bruce Rosenblum broke the seal of its cutting-edge Dolby audio and visual systems with a highlight reel of memorable TV moments that drew applause and laughs from the audience.
“This is one of the most technologically advanced theaters in the world, and as a part of their sponsorship, Dolby will update the theater’s technology for the next 10 years, guaranteeing us the ultimate entertainment experience,” Rosenblum revealed.
The theater, which also boasts deep red, plush, comfortable seats, prompted Chelsea Handler to joke, “it’s almost as big as Ted Sarandos’ screening room.”
At the event, the big four broadcast networks were inducted into the TV Academy Hall of Fame, and presented with the “Cornerstone” award. Tim Allen presented to Disney/ABC Television Group president Ben Sherwood; Allison Janney introduced former CBS Entertainment chair Nina Tassler; Ted Danson gave NBC Entertainment chairmen Robert Greenblatt its award; and Lea Michele awarded Chairman and CEO of Fox Networks Group Peter Rice.
“What’s amazing isn’t just that an entire industry was built on the shoulders of the men and women who worked at the Big Four, what’s amazing is their ongoing vibrancy and impact today — even in a world with over 100 networks and on-demand platforms,” WME TV chief Rick Rosen said before inducting the networks.
The evening ended with a “class photo,” which gathered 70 stars across the history of television to commemorate the academy’s anniversary. Among the talent: Florence Henderson, Garry Marshall, Bob Newhart, Phylicia Rashad, Lily Tomlin, Suzanne Somers, Felicity Huffman, Fred Savage, Rami Malek, Marsai Martin, Benito Martinez, Louis Gossett Jr. — and Lassie (the 10th generation), who barked down 3-2-1 for the photo.
Rosenblum announced that the Academy has hit $30 million of its $40 million goal for its “New Destination” capital campaign, thanks in part to four major media companies, which joined as founding partners for the launch: The Walt Disney Company, 20th Century Fox, TimeWarner, and Netflix.
Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos told Variety that the celebration marks a defining moment to not only look back at the history of the medium, but also its crossover success in a new era of technology. “It’s hard to imagine, but a couple of years ago we weren’t in the mix, and here we are producing and distributing shows in a wildly different way, in all practical purposes, didn’t even exist in the gleam of an eye 70 years ago,” said Sarandos.