ATAS fetes 'Idol,' 'Addiction'

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The "Idol Gives Back" fundraising effort by Fox's "American Idol" and HBO's multiplatform outreach campaign "The Addiction Project" have been tapped by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Board of Governors to receive this year's Governors Award.

The award, which honors an individual, company or organization "whose works stand out with the immediacy of current achievement," will be handed out during the 2007 Creative Arts Emmy Awards, set for Sept. 8 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

"The Governors Award is the television academy's highest honor," ATAS chairman Dick Askin said. "We salute these programs for harnessing the power of tele-vision to educate and inform viewers about two very significant issues that touch all of us."

"Idol Gives Back" helped raise more than $75 million to benefit relief programs for children and young people in extreme poverty in the U.S. and Africa. The event, hosted by Ryan Seacrest and Ellen DeGeneres, aired April 24-25 and featured celebrities, musicians, corporate sponsors and humanitarians. In addition, Seacrest, "Idol" winner Carrie Underwood and "Idol" judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson visited affected areas in the U.S. and Africa to profile the plight of the poor, homeless and sick children who need help.

"American Idol" and "Idol Gives Back" were created and are executive produced by Simon Fuller, founder of 19 Entertainment, and executive produced by FremantleMedia North America CEO Cecile Frot-Coutaz, 19 Television president Nigel Lythgoe and FMNA executive producer Ken Warwick.

Lythgoe noted that "Idol Gives Back" came together in only about six weeks.

"I'm very proud and pleased for the entire team," Lythgoe said. "The $75 million that we raised was so gratifying. It was such a great project, and there were so many wonderful stars that participated — everybody we asked said yes. I also was personally proud of bringing Elvis (Presley) back to life," he added, referring to the late singer's "virtual duet" with Celine Dion.

Noted Fuller, "We are so proud to have been able to leverage the power of 'Idol' with the support of our dedicated viewers across America to raise so much money and awareness for such worthwhile charitable organizations."

Added Frot-Coutaz, "All of us at 'American Idol' and FremantleMedia North America are very proud of our achievement on this unprecedented broadcast charity event and thrilled to be recognized in this manner."

"Addiction," designed to help Americans understand addiction as a chronic but treatable brain disease, was a partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. It featured a 14-part series from various documentary filmmakers along with an outreach campaign in more than 100 cities. HBO made "Addiction" easily available by opening its signal, streaming the content for free at HBO.com and making it available free as podcasts.

"Addiction" was produced by John Hoffman and Susan Froemke and executive produced by Sheila Nevins.

Hal Eisner, chairman of the Governors Award Nominating Committee, oversaw the selection process. The Governors Award Committee comprises ATAS governors Beth Bohn, Donna Ekholdt, Kevin Hamburger, Melinda Lawton, Kate Linder and Nancy Thurston.

Last year's Governors Award recipient was mtvU for its Campaign for Darfur.
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