Glaad Awards: Making Strides

Apr 25, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Ceremonies Get TV Home

Logo Net Will Present Taped Award Events from L.A., New York

By Lee Alan Hill

Special to TelevisionWeek

The 16th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, which began March 28 and take place in three U.S. cities through June 11, will be the first scheduled for telecast.

The New York event, which was held last month, and the Los Angeles segment, coming up April 30 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, are being videotaped and will be presented on Logo, the MTV Networks channel that debuts June 30.

Executive producers for the Media Awards include the team of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, former GLAAD award winners for such TV movies as “Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story” and “What Makes a Family.” Also executive producing is Michael Dempsey, a veteran special events producer for MTV Networks. Eileen Opatut, Jason Burlingame and Joan Garry are producing.

Brian Graden, president of Logo, praised GLAAD for its accomplishments and sensitivity as a representative of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. “It’s a natural partnership to present this show, which we will do probably in July after we’ve had a chance to promote it,” he said.

The awards special is slated to run 90 minutes, though the producers said it could go longer.

The New York segment of the GLAAD Media Awards took place March 28 at the Marriott Marquis before a crowd of more than 1,700, the largest ever, not only for the event but also for the hotel, according to Mr. Zadan and Mr. Meron.

Not being included in the TV presentation are the awards presented June 11 in San Francisco at the Westin St. Francis. The producers said required delivery dates make inclusion of the San Francisco event impossible.

“The plan is to use the Los Angeles awards as the heart of the final show,” Mr. Meron said, “and within that, to cut to highlights of the New York event.”

Among those New York highlights are the speech made by Billy Crystal after receiving the Excellence in Media Award, in which the actor-director spoke emotionally about his experience portraying one of the first openly gay characters in TV series history on ABC’s “Soap” in the 1970s.

“I’m thrilled with this honor,” Mr. Crystal said upon accepting his award. “This means a lot to me because ‘Soap’ was a breakthrough in my career and it was a breakthrough in many ways for gay characters on television and for gay people.

“I took the part [of Jodie, the gay son] because I thought we could do something different, that we could do something great and possibly important. What we tried to do on the show, week after week, was make this a man who happened to be gay, get rid of the stereotype and make Jodie something different that television hadn’t seen before.”

Mr. Zadan and Mr. Meron said they also expect to include Alan Cumming’s equally emotional reaction when presented with the Vito Russo Award, which honors an openly LGBT performer. “I accept this award in memory of all the great men and women of the past who’ve spoken out, defended our rights, and fought against homophobia and discrimination of all kinds,” Mr. Cumming said.

“I am so glad to have been honored this year instead of last, because in light of what has happened in the past year, we know that there’s so much more need to stand up now and shout-not just for acceptance, because I don’t want to be just accepted or tolerated. I want to be respected for who I am.”

“Jessica Lange’s warm and wonderful presentation” to Mr. Cumming may also be included, Mr. Meron said.

Another highlight of the New York event was the thunderous applause received by actress Cynthia Nixon (“Sex and the City”), who presented the award for best documentary. Ms. Nixon didn’t flinch last year when columnists revealed she had dissolved her long-term relationship with a man for a new union with a woman.

At the Los Angeles awards, Mr. Zadan and Mr. Meron expect tribute awards to Liza Minnelli and writer-director Bill Condon to be among the highlights. Also in Los Angeles, several TV awards will be presented, including outstanding drama series, outstanding individual episode in a series without a regular gay character, and outstanding reality program.

CBS’s “Cold Case” has two nominations in the episodic category, one for “It’s Raining Men,” written by Jan Oxenberg, and one for “Daniela,” a transgender-themed story written by Veena Sud.

“Writers like to think they’re on the cutting edge of culture,” Ms. Sud said. “To receive a GLAAD nomination is huge for all the writers on the show, not just the two of us whose episodes are being honored. It means people are having a positive reaction to what we do.”

Ilene Chaiken, creator and executive producer of Showtime’s “The L Word,” which is nominated as outstanding drama series, echoed that sentiment. “These nominations bolster our spirits,” she said. “I do think the GLAAD nomination means there’s an appreciation of what we’re doing.”

Jennifer Beals, one of the stars of “The L Word,” will be honored at the San Francisco event for her outspoken efforts on behalf of issues concerning the LGBT community.

“We only had 90 days to plan for this year’s shows,” Mr. Zadan said, “but it’s something we wanted to do because it’s GLAAD, an organization we believe in, and because on a personal basis, award shows are something we’ve never done and want to do.

“This is the one awards show where everyone in the audience wants to be there.”

Mr. Meron and Mr. Zadan have already agreed to produce next year’s Media Awards, for which they will have a full year to prepare.

This year’s awards are a farewell of sorts for Joan M. Garry, who has tendered her resignation as executive director of GLAAD after an eight-year tenure. A search for her successor is under way.

Neil Meron

Executive producer,16th Annual GLAAD Media Awards

What’s so great about the GLAAD Awards is I don’t think people show up who don’t want to be there. People want to be there to celebrate the work of the community or about the community, and obviously a lot of the people there want to celebrate themselves, because they are members of the community. So it’s not a case where you’re there because your company bought a table, or you’re there because business dictates you be. As a result, I don’t think there’s an award show as fun, a room as warm.

Paul Colichman

Founder and CEO, here! Network

GLAAD has been fighting the good fight as long as anyone can remember. That’s why we [at here!] are a major sponsor of the GLAAD Awards and of GLAAD. We wanted to be counted. I am my own audience. GLAAD has been there for me.