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Pete Docter, LeVar Burton Among Variety Family Entertainment Awards Honorees

Pete Docter, Levar Burton and Raven-Symone Family Entertainment Honorees Variety
Burton: Michael Spain Smith;

Variety will celebrate achievements in executive leadership, creative storytelling and franchise building of entertainment that connects with fans of all ages on Dec. 8 for the Variety Family Entertainment Awards sponsored by Kidoodle.tv.

Pete Docter
Chief Operating Officer, Pixar Animation Studios
Leadership Award

Docter is one of Pixar’s most important team members, having applied his talents to films including “Toy Story,” “Monsters, Inc.,” “Up,” “Inside Out” and “Soul,” among others. He’s worked as an animator, screenwriter, voice actor, producer and director, and currently serves as chief creative officer. Keeping the entertainment landscape fertile with family-friendly offerings is one of his highest priorities. “Though there’s more to watch than ever in history, it feels like there is less and less that everybody can enjoy together. Shows are either too violent for kids, too insipid for parents or not emotionally engaging for all audience members. It’s really hard to do all that, but in a world that’s always ready to square off, even the simple act of enjoying a movie together is a step in the right direction.”

“Cobra Kai”
Storytelling Visionary Award

Josh Heald, John Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg’s Netflix hit re-imagines the classic “Karate Kid” in fresh ways. And considering the trio started in decidedly adult-skewing creative waters (Heald penned the “Hot Tub Time Machine” franchise, while Hurwitz and Schlossberg masterminded the “Harold & Kumar” films), it’s interesting to see how they’ve produced something that’s been embraced by a wider age bracket. “When we pitched the show, our dream was to create something entertaining for audiences aged 7 to 70, and we knew we’d have multigenerational characters who would appeal to older viewers, and at the same time, we needed to create something for a new generation of younger viewers to connect with,” says Hurwitz.

Raven-Symoné
Actress, Singer, Songwriter – “That’s So Raven” & “Raven’s Home”

Storytelling Visionary Award

Through her creative longevity in family programming, spanning her days on “That’s So Raven” and lead- ing into her current role as executive producer and star of “Raven’s Home,” Raven-Symoné has become one of the biggest creative forces in Disney’s family entertainment landscape, cementing herself as a household name and inspiration for millions of young girls. She got her TV start and became a pop sensation by starring in “The Cheetah Girls” and “Cheetah Girls 2” for Disney Channel Original Movies. “I love what I get to do and I think it’s of the utmost importance to provide entertainment to kids of all ages. We’re curating the tastes of young, impressionable viewers, and it’s important to show life lessons without providing any sort of agenda.”

LeVar Burton
Actor, Director, Television Host – “Reading Rainbow”
Storytelling Visionary Award

Burton’s “Reading Rainbow” has motivated millions of kids to pick up a book and learn to love reading. Burton is also featured in documentary “Butterfly in the Sky,” about the TV folks who believed the small screen could inspire a love of reading. Burton first became a star when he was cast in the role of Kunta Kinte in the landmark TV series “Roots”; he also received acclaim for his role as chief engineer Geordi La Force in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” The recipient of many awards, including Emmys, a Grammy and a Peabody, Burton also runs RRRKidz, a digital education publishing company. “Family entertainment continues to be a focus of mine, and I think it’s important to train our successors. We’re in a great age of family content because of the streamers and their desire to create quality programming,” he says.

Julian Shapiro-Barnum
Creator, “Recess Therapy”
Family Entertainment Safe Streaming Hero Award Presented by Kidoodle.TV

Shapiro-Barnum’s mission is to create an online space for positive, joyful content that promotes empathy and not division. He’s the comedian, actor and creator of viral online show “Recess Therapy,” where he conducts on-the-street interviews with children ages 2-9 about their hopes, dreams and even topical issues like climate change. The show has 2.6 million followers on Instagram, and his “Corn Kid” interview was the most-shared video this past summer. Guests on the show have included Michelle Obama, Drew Barry- more, Jenny Slate and Daniella Pineda. “The safety of children is always top priority to me. Especially in my line of work where I’m often interacting with families I’ve never met before, making them feel comfortable is of the utmost importance. I think family entertainment is moving in the direction of trusting its younger audiences rather than talking down to them,” he says.

“SpongeBob SquarePants
Franchise Award

Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob Square- Pants,” which was created by Stephen Hillenburg, has become a juggernaut in across programming platforms, merchandise avenues and experiential attractions. Since its premiere in 1999, the series has been running for 14 seasons, and has become the most-watched animated series for nearly 20 consecutive years. The cartoon chronicles the nautical and sometimes nonsensical adventures of SpongeBob, a good-hearted and earnest sea sponge, and his undersea friends. The title has become one of the most widely dis- tributed properties in Paramount Intl. history, seen in more than 170 countries, and averaging more than 100 million total viewers every quarter. “Through the years, SpongeBob’s optimism and positivity has always been consistent. The people who make the show have a great deal of integrity, honesty and goodness in all of them,” says Ramsey Naito, president of Paramount Animation & Nickelodeon Animation.