TV Academy Honors Fete Morality-Driven Fare

2012-31 TOWN Aaron Sorkin P

Aaron Sorkin heard from Jay Paterno, son of the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. "We never touched [Jerry] Sandusky or Paterno on the show," explains Sorkin of his surprising outreach.

The sixth annual TV Academy Honors was less “just another award show” than “a night to award shows that deserve recognition that will probably largely get snubbed at the actual Emmys.”

The host of the event held at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Body of Proof actress Dana Delaney, admitted as much when she took the stage “for the fourth or fifth time” to preside over festivities she summed up as being about “How we treat our neighbors, and I applaud all of you for asking these questions.”

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The room was appointed mostly with Academy members, and a smattering of celebrities – including Newsroom star Olivia Munn and Parenthood’s Monica Potter – on hand to support honorees such as Aaron Sorkin and Jason Katims. The latter offered up the laugh of the night when he called out Parenthood EP Brian Grazer out for admitting on stage that he “had seen many of the episodes…but not all of them.”

“Brian, I know you haven’t watched all the episodes, but we’re going into our fifth season, not our fourth,” joked Katims, whose NBC pilot comedy About a Boy just scored a series order at NBC.

Katims’ drama, which was first honored at the event in 2011 for its portrayal of autism, was honored again for its daring (and at times depressing) storyline that had Potter’s character Kristina Braverman fighting for her life against cancer.

“We cried regularly in the writer’s room,” Katims said, reflecting on his wife’s own battle with the disease a few years ago.

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Sorkin’s HBO series about the dogged world of cable TV news won admiration from 60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft, who applauded the Oscar and Emmy-winning writer’s willingness “to raise questions” about the industry and its struggle to manage moral ambiguities. In his brief acceptance speech, Sorkin – currently filming the second season of the rat-tat-tat dialogue-heavy drama – admitted that keeping things short wasn’t easy for him. “Brevity is a challenge for me,” he conceded, while managing to keep his thank you’s to a minimum.

Other programs celebrated at the event included Hallmark Hall of Fame’s A Smile as Big As the Moon about a special-needs class attending Space Camp starring John Corbett; PBS’s adaptation of Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book about global empowerment of women, the documentary Half the Sky; and the Comedy Central documentary D.L. Hughley, The Endangered List, which chronicled the comedian’s quest to petition the U.S. government to, like a certain salamander breed he learned about, “save the black men” in America.