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The Peabody Awards attracted an eclectic mix of television personalities to the Waldorf-Astoria on Monday afternoon for the 72nd annual ceremony honoring excellence in television and radio.
Administered by the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications, there were many TV news and documentary winners — including ABC News, which won two awards (for its coverage of Hurricane Sandy and “Robin’s Journey,” Robin Roberts’ battle with a rare blood and bone marrow disease); CBS News’ 60 Minutes (with awards for both “Deception at Duke” and “Joy in the Congo”); and CNN earning an award for its coverage inside Syria and Homs.
Awards also went to Louis C.K.’s Louie (which returns to FX in May 2014 after what will have been a very long hiatus); TNT’s canceled drama Southland; Lena Dunham’s Girls and the movie Game Change (both on HBO); and D.L. Hughley‘s The Endangered List on Comedy Central.
Lorne Michaels, who next year will add The Tonight Show to his list of executive producing duties when Jimmy Fallon takes over from Jay Leno on Feb. 24, received a very rare individual achievement honor. The reticent Michaels gave one of the shortest speeches of the afternoon.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am to finally be among serious people,” he said from the stage. “Thank you very much.”
The applause was longer than his speech. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter backstage, Michaels allowed that The Tonight Show is a “very exciting” addition to his portfolio. “I think The Tonight Show coming to the city that never sleeps is a better fit,” he added.
Fallon’s current studio – 6B at Rockefeller Center – will get a $5 million renovation, while Saturday Night Live head writer and “Weekend Update” anchor Seth Meyers will inherit Late Night from Fallon. Michaels added that Fallon too is a good fit for Tonight , a program that under current host Leno attracts a large audience in the middle of the country. “Jimmy enjoys what he’s doing, and he wants the audience to enjoy it, too.”
But the longest and most voluble applause went to Roberts, who attended the ceremony with a large contingent from ABC News including president Ben Sherwood, senior vp James Goldston, GMA senior executive producer Tom Cibrowski, on-air colleagues George Stephanopoulos, Josh Elliott, Cynthia McFadden, David Muir, Juju Chang, Terry Moran and Diane Sawyer, and her sister Sally-Ann Roberts, who was her bone marrow donor. In fact, Roberts was given a standing ovation (the last one went to Walter Cronkite for his fourth and final Peabody).
Speaking over the applause, Roberts quipped: “You’re cutting into my 30 seconds.” (The 39 recipients were asked to keep their remarks short.) Roberts noted that it “is eight months to the day since my transplant. So technically I’m eight months old today.”
Backstage Roberts added that it was “very weird” for her to go from journalist to subject as GMA chronicled her treatment and recovery. But she added that she is “extremely proud” that her story brought awareness to the need for bone marrow donors. “I don’t regret it at all. But it wasn’t easy.”