Peabody Awards: Norman Lear Among Individual and Institutional Winners

Martin Schoeller
Norman Lear

Rashida Jones will host the 76th annual ceremony May 20 in New York.

Norman Lear and the Independent Television Service have been named as individual and institutional winners at the 76th annual Peabody Awards.

Both are being recognized for their contributions to narrative storytelling and the public media landscape.

Lear — the man behind classic TV series like All in the Family, Sanford and Son, Good Times and The Jeffersons — was praised by the Peabody Awards for changing "the face of television — and the faces."

"He revolutionized and democratized a traditionally timid, overwhelmingly white-bread medium with a collection of recognizable, risible characters whose racial and gender diversity was as unprecedented as their biases and brash opinions," the awards organization said in announcing its plan to honor Lear. "In Lear’s watershed shows of the ’70s, no topic was too touchy to tackle — not racial discrimination, not sexism, not homosexuality, not abortion, not even rape. Better than anyone working in television, Lear has created an influential body of work that politicized the personal, personalized the political, and showed us ourselves in all our ridiculousness and nobility."

The Independent Television Service, formed by Congress in 1988 and conceived by independent filmmakers who saw a lack of diversity in public media, "can claim a foundational place in the flourishing of documentary film over the past generation," according to the Awards.

ITVS, winner of 32 Peabody Awards, has funded more than 1,400 films, including Kirby Dick's and Amy Ziering's Invisible War, David France's How to Survive a Plague, Marco Williams' and Whitney Dow's Two Towns of Jasper and Leslee Udwin's India's Daughter.

"These works remain as relevant today as when they were initially broadcast and have made an impact that is impossible to measure," the awards organization said in announcing its plan to honor ITVS. "At a time when public media is under political attack, there is no better time to recognize the vital contributions to public discourse and knowledge than that provided by ITVS."

Additional Peabody Award winners, selected by a board of jurors including The Hollywood Reporter's editor-at-large Kim Masters, will be revealed in the coming weeks.

The Peabody Award winners will be celebrated at a May 20 gala in New York, hosted by Rashida Jones, which will be taped for a TV special to air on PBS and Fusion on June 2 at 9 p.m. ET.

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