The late comedienne Gracie Allen would have been proud. The 36th annual edition of the awards bearing her name, the Gracies, went off without a hitch–and with a lot of laughter, appreciation and applause along the way.
Hosted by Patricia Heaton and presented by the Alliance for Women in Media and title sponsor Dove, the Gracies honor exceptional programming and individual contributions of those who create portrayals of women in all forms of media, including radio, broadcast television, cable and new media. The awards program also encourages the realistic and multifaceted portrayal of women in entertainment, news, features and other programs.
This year’s gala dinner ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel started off with a bang as the outstanding anchor statuette was awarded by actor Zachary Levi to outgoing “Today” show host Meredith Vieira. Taking the stage in a flowing red gown, Vieira used the occasion to thank and say goodbye to a list of her colleagues at the top-rated NBC morning newscast.
Among the other honorees who took home Gracie Awards: NBC news correspondent Anne Thompson for outstanding reporter; Chelsea Handler for outstanding talk show, "Chelsea Lately"; Amber Lyons for outstanding investigative program, "Sold on Craigslist"; Shonda Rimes for outstanding drama, "Private Practice"; Joan Lunden for outstanding talk show, "Taking Care with Joan Lunden"; and Yvette Nicole Brown for outstanding performance in a supporting comedy role for “Community.”
Handler, whose latest book is topping bestseller lists, joked onstage that she was honored to be awarded anything and then closed by saying, "Men, your time is over."
Julie McCarthy, who had just won a Peabody Award for her work in Pakistan for NPR, talked about the importance of telling complex stories in accepting her Gracie.
“Access Hollywood” weekend co-anchor and correspondent Shaun Robinson was honored with the 2011 Dove Real Beauty Award, created to honor an individual who best embodies and expresses the “substance and spirit” of real beauty through her life and career.
The prestigious Gracies Tribute Award for 2011 was presented to Emmy Award-winning journalist and bestselling author Linda Ellerbee by former CNN anchor Aaron Brown. She was recognized for her unparalleled career defined by intelligent journalism, innovative television programming and inspirational messaging.
Other presenters included ESPN’s Erin Andrews, ice skating icon Peggy Fleming, Holly Robinson Peete, Kim Delaney, Brenda Strong, Morgan Fairchild, Dennis Swanson, Christy Turlington Burns, Scott Herman and Maria Menounos.
The Gracies will air on the Hallmark Movie Channel on Aug. 8, 2011.