'Glee,' 'Modern Family' win Peabodys


ABC's "Modern Family," Fox's "Glee," HBO's "In Treatment," Kermit and company and Craig Ferguson were among the 36 recipients of Peabody Awards unveiled Wednesday by the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The winners, chosen by the Peabody board as the best in electronic media for 2009, were named during a ceremony on the university campus.

The latest Peabody winners reflect great diversity in genre, sources of origination and content. The recipients also included HBO's "Thrilla in Manila," a doc that probes the politically charged Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fights of the early 1970s, and "The Great Textbook War," a fair, balanced radio doc from West Virginia Public Broadcasting about a 1974 skirmish that presaged the "cultural wars" still raging in America.

Along with ABC's multigenerational family comedy, Fox's invigorating musical dramedy about a high school choral club and HBO's mesmerizing therapy-session drama, Peabodys were bestowed on "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency," HBO's series about a female private eye in Botswana, and "Endgame," a PBS/Masterpiece Theatre film about secret negotiations that facilitated the end of apartheid in South Africa.

"Jerome Robbins -- Something to Dance About," a portrait of the director-choreographer from Thirteen/WNET's "American Masters," received a Peabody Award, as did the Desmond Tutu installment of CBS' consistently surprising "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson," described by the board as "a talk show without borders."

Peabodys went to "Sichuan Earthquake: One Year On," a thorough assessment of the damage, grief and anger in the quake-ravaged Chinese province by Hong Kong's Now-TV News; "A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains," ABC News' illumination of the abiding poverty of our most forgotten region, central Appalachia; "The Madoff Affair," a comprehensive examination by WGBH Boston's "Frontline" of the Ponzi scheme that cost investors $65 billion.

In the realm of arts and culture, Peabodys were awarded to PBS' "Inventing LA: The Chandlers and Their Times," a portrait of a family newspaper dynasty that pursued civic goals and personal agendas with equal zeal; "Noodle Road," a visually scrumptious survey of the Asian culinary staple by South Korea's KBS; and two "Independent Lens" docs: "The Order of Myths," a look at race relations through the prism of the Mardi Gras of Mobile, Ala., and "Between the Folds," an exhilarating study of the art of origami and paper folding.

A Personal Peabody was awarded to Diane Rehm, whose eponymously titled show on WAMU-FM Washington and NPR epitomizes vigorous, courteous political discourse. Peabodys also went to "BBC World News America: Unique Broadcast, Unique Perspective," a model "world" newscast crafted for U.S. cable subscribers by BBC America; National Public Radio's topically boundless Web counterpart, NPR.org; and SesameStreet.org, the children's series' educational Web site.

"Every year the Peabody Board faces the daunting task of selecting examples of the most outstanding work in electronic media," said Horace Newcomb, director of the Peabody Awards. "Our work is made more difficult because every entry is selected by a producer, a studio, a network or cable channel as their best work of the previous year. We begin at the top and have to go even higher."

The Peabody Board recognized the meritorious efforts of several local news orgs. Awards went to "Under Fire: Discrimination and Corruption in the Texas National Guard," a startling investigative series by KHOU-TV Houston that led to the firing of three Texas Guard generals; "Derrion Albert Beating," a series of reports by WFLD-TV Chicago about the sidewalk killing of an honor student that had national repercussions; and "BART Shooting," a series of reports in which KTVU-TV Oakland, Calif., doggedly pursued the facts of a deadly train-station confrontation.

The Peabody Awards, the oldest honor in electronic media, do not recognize categories, nor is there a set number of awards given each year.

The Peabody Board is a 16-member group comprising television critics, broadcast and cable industry executives, academics and experts in culture and the arts. They make their annual selections with input from special screening committees of UGA faculty, students and staff. (THR editor Elizabeth Guider is a member of the Peabody Board.)

All entries become a permanent part of the Peabody Archive in the University of Georgia Libraries.

A complete list of recipients of the 69th Annual Peabody Awards is included on the next page.




Complete list of recipients of the 69th annual Peabodys:

"Modern Family" (ABC), Twentieth Century Fox Television in association with Levitan Lloyd Productions
This wily, witty comedy puts quirky, contemporary twists in family ties but maintains an old-fashioned heart.

"The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: An Evening with Archbishop Desmond Tutu" (CBS), Worldwide Pants, Inc.
As this fascinating, often funny interview attests, the Scottish-born Ferguson has made late-night television safe again for ideas.

"Noodle Road: Connecting Asia's Kitchens" (KBS1 TV), Korean Broadcasting System
The who, where, what, why and how of Asia's culinary staple, rolled into one visually delicious hour.

"A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains" (ABC), ABC News
A powerful documentary shot in the hollows and house trailers of Appalachia reminds us that not all critical problems lie in "developing" nations.

SesameStreet.org, Sesame Workshop
Big Bird and company display prodigious adaptability on this delightfully educational, interactive site.

"BBC World News America: Unique Broadcast, Unique Perspective" (BBC America), BBC World News America, BBC America
A nightly newscast like none the United States has ever had, it places our actions and concerns in a global context.

"The Cost of Dying" (CBS)
CBS News 60 Minutes
Steve Kroft's report addressed inconvenient truths about the cost of end-of-life medical care with courage and compassion.
 
"Independent Lens: Between the Folds" (PBS), Green Fuse Films, ITVS
A beautiful documentary about the art of paper folding, it makes you gasp at the possibilities – of paper and of human creativity.
 
"Glee" (FOX), Twentieth Century Fox Television
Dependably tuneful and entertaining, the musical dramedy that revolves around the motley members of a high-school choral club hit especially high notes with episodes such as "Wheels," about the daily struggles of a wheelchair-bound singer.
 
"The OxyContin Express" (Current TV), Vanguard on Current TV
With tales of drug-dealing MDs in Florida and Appalachian "pill-billies," the documentary makes clear the enormity of the prescription-drug epidemic.
 
npr.org, National Public Radio
A whole lot of things considered, from "South Park" to North Korea, make this one of the great one-stop websites. And there's music you can dance to.
 
Diane Rehm Personal Award
Now available to National Public Radio listeners after decades on Washington's WAMU-FM, Rehm's talk show is the gold standard for civil, civic discourse.
 
"The Day that Lehman Died" (BBC World Service), A Goldhawk Essential Production/BBC World Service Production
Merging news with dramatic reconstruction based on exhaustive interviews, this rare docudrama for radio put listeners in the boardroom and halls of Lehman Brothers as the financial giant collapsed.
 
"In Treatment"(HBO), Leverage, Closest to the Hole Productions and Sheleg in association with HBO Entertainment
Giving new meaning to the phrase "theater of the mind," this fictional series of psychiatrist-patient one-on-one's is the very essence of drama.
 
"Inventing LA: The Chandlers and Their Times" (PBS), Peter Jones Productions
Digging into the lives and machinations of the first family of Los Angeles newspapers, documentary filmmaker Peter Jones finds drama enough for several feature films.

"No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" (HBO), Mirage Enterprises and Cinechicks in association with The Weinstein Company, BBC and HBO Entertainment
Alexander McCall Smith's best-selling novels about Precious Ramotswe, an African detective, come vividly to life in this groundbreaking series, shot on location in Botswana.
 
"Sabotaging the System" (CBS), CBS News 60 Minutes
Alarming and then some, Steve Kroft's survey of cyber-threats to America's infrastructure made it clear the siege is on and questioned our readiness to defend.
 
"Brick City"
(Sundance Channel), Sundance Channel, Brick City TV LLC
In this five-hour documentary series, the struggles of Newark's young mayor and other citizens trying to resurrect their blighted communities are sociologically instructive and dramatically compelling.
 
"Thrilla in Manila" (HBO), Darlow Smithson Production, HBO Sports, HBO Documentary Films
Taking its title from the last of three legendary heavyweight bouts between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, the documentary pulls no punches and lays bare misconceptions about their rivalry.

"Frontline: The Madoff Affair" (PBS), Frontline, RainMedia
The documentary takes viewers into the very heart of Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, explaining how and why it worked for so long.
 
"I-Witness: Ambulansiyang de Paa" (GMA Network), GMA Network, Inc., Philippines
Condemning deplorable conditions while celebrating neighborly valor and ingenuity, the report shows how people in a poor village carry their sick and injured over dangerous terrain to distant medical care using "ambulances on foot."
 
"Independent Lens: The Order of Myths" (PBS), Folly River, Inc., Netpoint Productions, Lucky Hat Entertainment, ITVS
Margaret Brown's exploration of two Mardi Gras traditions in Mobile, Ala., one white, one black, is highly original, moving and insightful.
 
"Hard Times" (OPB Radio), Oregon Public Broadcasting
The Main Street repercussions of Wall Street's reckless ways were nowhere in the media more humanly and thoughtfully documented than in this series of radio reports.
 
"Iran & the West," Brook Lapping Productions for the BBC in association with National Geographic Channel, France 3, NHK, VPRO, SVT, RTBF, VRT, NRK, SRC/CBC, DRTV SBS, YLE, TVP and Press TV
A spectacular, epic documentary that explains in fascinating, sometimes startling detail how the West and Iran arrived at the present standoff, it's imminently watchable and historically invaluable.
 
"Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson: Covering Afghanistan" (NPR), National Public Radio
No reporter in any medium gives us a better sense of the variety of life inside Afghanistan than the multi-lingual chief of NPR's Kabul bureau.
 
"The Great Textbook War"
(West Virginia Public Broadcasting), Terry Kay Productions
This thoughtful, balanced and gripping radio documentary shows how a 1974 battle over textbook content in rural West Virginia foreshadows the "culture wars" still raging.
 
"Mind the Gap: Why Good Schools Are Failing Black Students" (KLCC Radio), Nancy Solomon
Independent producer Solomon exhibited great empathy for the students and teachers at the suburban New Jersey high school she studied, meanwhile asking tough, necessary questions.
 
"Endgame" (PBS), Daybreak/Channel 4/Target Entertainment, Presented on PBS/MASTERPIECE by WGBH Boston
This intensely dramatic film, focused on secret negotiations at an English country estate – talks that helped to end apartheid in South Africa – offers a lesson in the possibilities of peaceful conflict resolution.
 
"Sichuan Earthquake: One Year On" (Now-Broadband TV News Channel), Now-TV News, Hong Kong
The Hong Kong-based news organization noted the anniversary of the terrible
Sichuan quake with respect for the victims and their families and hard questions about the substandard construction that worsened the death toll.
 
"BART Shooting" (KTVU-TV), KTVU, Oakland, Calif.
KTVU's quick response to a train-station altercation that ended in a fatal shooting gave its reporters an edge, but it was their persistent digging afterwards that revealed serious, systematic problems in the Bay Area Rapid Transit police's tactics.
 
"American Masters: Jerome Robbins – Something to Dance About"
(PBS), Thirteen/WNET
A retrospective of Robbins' life and work illustrated with dazzling performance clips and annotated with comments from noted ballet and Broadway colleagues, this brilliant documentary captured the legendary director/choreographer's "dark genius."
 
"Chronicle: Paul's Gift"
(WYFF-TV), WYFF 4, Greenville, S.C.
Simple, ingenious and effective, this public-service special followed the donated organs of an accident victim to a variety of recipients, showing their joy and gratitude, thus boosting a most worthy cause.
 
"Under Fire: Discrimination and Corruption in the Texas National Guard" (KHOU-TV), KHOU-TV, Houston, Tex., Belo, Inc.
Dogged work by the Houston station's investigative reporters found such blatant discriminatory treatment of female soldiers that three top Texas Guard generals were fired and a new commanding officer was appointed.
 
"Derrion Albert Beating" (WFLD-TV), FOX Chicago News: WFLD-TV and myfoxchicago.com
WFLD got national attention with horrifying video it obtained of the beating death of an honor student just blocks from his Chicago high school, but the greater feat was its comprehensive follow-up coverage of the suspects, the legal process and prevalence of similar violence.
 
"Where Giving Life Is a Death Sentence" (BBC America), BBC World News America, BBC America, BBC World News
Correspondent Lyse Doucet trekked deep into Afghanistan's rugged Badakshan province to document conditions that give it the worst recorded rate of maternal mortality in the world.
 
"Up in Smoke" (KCET-TV), KCET, Los Angeles
 Lively, eye-opening coverage by KCET's "SoCal Connected" included a revelation that there are now more legal, medical-marijuana dispensaries in the city than Starbucks franchises, and a rare look at the "Cannabis Cowboys," an elite police team of pot-farm eradicators.
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