Peabody Awards: Fred Armisen to Host Drastically Reimagined 74th Edition

"I want more public awareness of what it is we do," the awards' director told THR, explaining why the ceremony is moving from a weekday lunch to a weekend dinner and why winners of entertainment categories will now be announced on 'GMA' on April 16.
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Fred Armisen

The ceremony built around "the oldest and most prestigious award for electronic media" is getting a major makeover.

The Peabody Awards have announced that their 74th annual awards ceremony will be hosted by Fred Armisen, the chief creative force behind 2011 Peabody Award winner Portlandia, and that the format of this year's ceremony, which will take place on May 31, will be different than any of the previous 73.

Forget about weekday luncheons — winners now will collect their prizes in front of 1,000 industry professionals at "a stylish, Sunday-night event, complete with red carpet" at Cipriani Wall Street. Moreover, for the second year in a row, the show will be recorded and aired on Pivot — the digital cable and satellite television channel owned by Participant Media — in June as a 90-minute special that will feature highlights of the ceremony, clips of winning programs and interviews with the talent behind them. (The show aired on A&E years ago but had been off-the-air for a decade prior to the Pivot deal.)

"I want more public awareness of what it is we do," Dr. Jeffrey P. Jones, director of the Peabody Awards at the University of Georgia, told The Hollywood Reporter. "As I've traveled in my role as director, people just aren't as aware of who we are and what we are and what we do," he said, explaining why he greenlighted these changes.

Additionally, for the first time, honorees will be revealed over a two-week period beginning on April 14, with entertainment winners announced live on ABC's Good Morning America on April 16.

"In the past, we would just announce all 40 in a release," Jones told THR, "and what would happen is the big, popular cultural shows — Scandal, Orange Is the New Black — would get all the attention." He continued: "By breaking it up, it lets us focus on other awesome stories, as well."

Jones added in the statement, "Our goal is to invigorate and inspire citizens through the transformative power of television and electronic media to tell stories that transform and inspire us in our everyday lives. Reaching the large, diverse GMA audience helps us accomplish that goal."

The Peabodys, based at the University of Georgia's Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, are the oldest awards in electronic media and among the world's most prestigious and selective prizes. They recognize excellence and meritorious work by radio and television stations, networks, webcasters, podcasters, producing organizations and individuals, while seeking to recognize, in Jones' words, "the ever-expanding landscape of media." The 18-member Peabody Board is a distinguished panel of television critics, industry practitioners and experts in culture and the arts. The board weighs approximately 1,200 submissions to determine the recipients of 40 "best" prizes.

Twitter: @ScottFeinberg

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