Frank to receive ATAS Founders Award


Rich Frank, veteran entertainment industry executive and former president of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, has been tapped to receive the Syd Cassyd Founders Award from ATAS during Saturday's 2007 Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium.

Frank marks only the eighth recipient of the award, which is named in honor of the founder of ATAS and was created to recognize "members who have made a significant positive impact on the academy through their efforts and service over many years of involvement."

"There is no one more deserving of this honor than Rich Frank," ATAS chairman and CEO Dick Askin said. "During his unprecedented three terms as television academy president, Rich helped expand the image of the academy beyond the Primetime Emmys through a variety of groundbreaking initiatives."

As president of ATAS, Frank spearheaded what the academy calls one of its "most ambitious" events ever: the "Information Superhighway Summit," during which keynote speaker Vice President Al Gore discussed the expanding TV universe and new technologies like the Internet. ATAS considers the event it a "milestone event in bringing focus to the changing industry."

ATAS also took on anti-drug issues under Frank's leadership. He established the academy's Campaign Against Substance Abuse, which helped to change the portrayal of drug use in TV programs and resulted in several anti-drug projects, including the animated special "Cartoon All Stars to the Rescue." The special aired simultaneously on ABC, CBS and NBC, which ATAS noted was an unprecedented event in network television at the time.

Also under Frank's leadership, the Archive of American Television was established under the aegis of the Television Academy Foundation, which has taped unedited video interviews with more than 500 actors, writers, producers and other TV pioneers.

"I have been lucky to work in this industry for over four decades and have been honored to have been able to lead the academy for part of that time," Frank said. "To be able to get up every morning and go to work doing what I love in a medium that entertains, educates, provides news and encourages debate is something very few people get to do, so to be recognized for that is something extra special."

Frank got his start in the industry in the 1960s at advertising agency BBDO in New York. He then moved to Los Angeles to become sales manager at KTLA-TV and later president of KCOP-TV and Chris-Craft Broadcasting.

From 1977-85, Frank was vp and then president of the Paramount Television Group of Paramount Pictures and was one of the founders of USA Network, serving on its board. Under Frank's leadership at Paramount, the company scored with such series as "Cheers," "Family Ties" and "Taxi."

In 1985, Frank took over as president of Walt Disney Studios, where he was responsible for all production, marketing and distribution of Disney's movies and television shows. There, h e oversaw such TV series as "Home Improvement" and "Golden Girls" and launched the Disney Channel.

The news that ATAS had named Frank as the recipient of the Syd Cassyd Award was met with a positive response from a trio of top TV executives, who praised Frank and offered their congratulations Tuesday.

"Rich Frank is one of those rare individuals whose many noteworthy accomplishments in both our business and the community at large are matched by equally admirable qualitities as a human being," Fox Broadcasting president of entertainment Kevin Reilly said. "I am proud to call him my friend, and I salute the academy for recognizing Rich with the Syd Cassyd Founders Award."

Said Ben Silverman, co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios: "Rich Frank is a true visionary and champion of popular television. He is responsible for some of the best shows in television history that continue to entertain audiences all around the world. He richly deserves this honor."

Added ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson: "I am thrilled that the academy has chosen to honor such an industry legend, a wonderful man and a great friend. He has been a visionary, a leader, a mentor and has defined excellence for our industry. It is my honor to congratulate my dear friend."

Following his tenure at Disney, Frank devoted himself to Frank Family Vineyards, the Napa Valley-based wine producer that he established in the 1990s. In 2003, he co-founded Integrated Entertainment Partners, a company that linked studios, producers and consumer brands into entertainment properties. A year later, IEP merged with talent agency the Firm, where Frank was appointed chairman of the board. He currently serves as a consultant to the Firm as well as vice chairman of the American Film Institute.

He also he remains active in ATAS and its foundation, of which he is a member of the board of directors.

The Syd Cassyd Award was established in 1991, with Cassyd the first recipient. Subsequent recipients include Robert Lewine in 1992, Hank Rieger in 1994, Larry Stewart in 1995, Thomas Sarnoff in 1997, Howard Schmidt in 2000 and Leo Chaloukian in 2004.