16th Annual Hall of Fame Honors Television Giants
Barely twenty-four hours before the U.S. handover of power to Iraq, Television Academy members and other guests got a private big-screen view of Baghdad, when CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather, live via satellite, was inducted from that city into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.
|Front Row (L – R) Katie Couric, Charles Cappleman; 2nd Row (L – R) Bob Barker, Lilly Tartikoff, Brain Carney; Back Row (L – R) James Burrows, Sheila MacRae, Chuck Norris, Sumner Redstone, Wendy Walker Whitworth, Sam Haskell, Tony Danza|
Closer to home, the 16th annual event, held June 26 at the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre, saw the induction of Bob Barker, Charles Cappleman, Katie Couric and posthumously, Art Carney and Brandon Tartikoff. The six became the 105th through 110th members of the Hall of Fame, which was created to honor those in television who have made extraordinary contributions to the medium.
Executive producer George Schlatter, writer-producer Maria Schlatter and writer Buz Kohan created a humorous, at times poignant and always entertaining program affably hosted by Tony Danza; due to performing commitments, Danza had first seen his script shortly before stepping onto the pre-show red carpet. Clips packages highlighted scenes from honorees’ notable programs and comments from colleagues, while acceptance speeches expressed not only the inductees’ gratitude, but their generosity, consistently lauding those presenting them the crystal TV-screen-shaped award as well as their fellow honorees.
First to be welcomed into the Hall of Fame was Charles "Cappy" Cappleman, a fixture at CBS Television City for fifty years, who is retiring in July as executive vice president, West Coast operations and engineering. Praised by presenter George Schlatter for his technological vision and his ability to surmount obstacles — be it allaying Judy Garland’s insecurities or solving the logistics of a production number featuring 1100 U.S. Marines performing atop and around the CBS building — Cappleman said he felt "show business should be fun" and thanked "the hundreds of individuals I’ve had the privilege of knowing and learning from."
|Charles Cappleman, Sumner Redstone and Bob Barker|
Next up: Art Carney, who died shortly after he was named an honoree. Sheila MacRae, his co-star on The Honeymooners, introduced son Brian Carney, who said of the seven-time Emmy- and one-time Academy Award-winner, "My father was at his most comfortable in front of the camera, on stage. I’m just so proud to see him inducted with all these people, and I know he is — he told me so when he found out he was bring inducted."
|Lilly Tartikoff and George Schlatter|
Dan Rather’s segment began with taped congratulations from CBS chairman and CEO/Viacom co-president and co-COO Les Moonves. Viacom chairman and CEO Sumner Redstone then took the Goldenson stage as Rather appeared on screen in Iraq; he noted that Rather "lives, breathes and eats the news, the relentless pursuit of a story, trying to land a coveted interview." When Redstone offered the award to Rather, the newsman — 7665 miles away — held up his own Hall of Fame statuette. "I don’t deserve this," Rather said. "I am unworthy. But I am deeply appreciative."
Perhaps the evening’s most moving induction was that of the fourth honoree, the late former NBC Entertainment president Brandon Tartikoff, who died in 1997 at age 48. His best friend, director James Burrows, noted Tartikoff’s "childlike passion … He was a network president who followed his heart. If he liked something, he’d run with it and not put up obstacles." Said widow Lilly Tartikoff in acceptance, "Brandon Tartikoff loved television. He loved the people who created shows, the people who wrote them, the people who acted in them and the people who watched them. … It hurts so much that he can’t be here to experience this privilege."
The fifth inductee, Bob Barker, may be the only Hall of Fame member with a black belt in karate. The fifteen-time Emmy Award winner and longtime host of The Price is Right was taught by Chuck Norris, who this night presented Barker his honor. Barker thanked his late wife and champion Dorothy Jo and his mentor Ralph Edwards, who hired him to host the television version of Truth or Consequences. And to the Academy, said Barker, "You will in the future induct people who are more deserving than I am, but you will never induct anyone who appreciates being in the Hall of Fame more than I do."
|Front Row (L – R): Sam Haskell, John Shaffner, Todd Leavitt, Katie Couric, Charles Cappleman, Tom Sarnoff; Back Row (L – R), Bob Barker, Lilly Tartikoff, Brian Carney|
The night’s final honoree, Today co-anchor and Dateline contributing anchor Katie Couric, was congratulated on tape by NBC Universal Television Group president Jeff Zucker and welcomed into the Hall of Fame by her best friend, Larry King Live executive producer Wendy Walker Whitworth. Couric recalled some of her interviewees — providing credible impersonations of Katharine Hepburn and Ross Perot in the process — and, noting the 1998 death of her husband Jay Monahan to colon cancer, said that "in some ways, television was my salvation, because it allowed me to channel my sorrow" by raising cancer awareness. "Thank you so much," she added. "for recognizing that quality television still can exist and deeming me worthy of this honor tonight."
Also participating were Fred Willard and Martin Mull, Hall of Fame members Tim Conway and Harvey Korman on tape, Academy first vice chair John Schaffner and Hall of Fame committee chair Sam Haskell.
|Sumner Redstone and Dan Rather|
|Lilly Tartikoff and Katie Couric|
|Hall of Fame reception|