THE FIFTH ANNUAL BRANDON TARTIKOFF LEGACY AWARDS1/25/2008 07:00:00 PM Eastern
There will never be another Brandon Tartikoff. But thankfully, the television business has a handful of men and women with the kind of zest, instinct and passion that make the entire medium shine.
It's that kind of person who NATPE and the editors of Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and Variety look for when we bestow the annual Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Awards, now in their fifth year.
Tartikoff, of course, was the master programmer who, at age 31 in 1981, became the entertainment president of then-woeful NBC. With imagination and daring, and by letting creators be creative, he turned that network into a powerhouse within a few years.
NBC became the home of Cheers and Hill Street Blues and Miami Vice and Golden Girls and St. Elsewhere, and of course, The Cosby Show. NBC, during the Tartikoff years and beyond, was one proud peacock.
Tragically, Tartikoff passed away in 1997 at the age of 48, from Hodgkin's disease, which he had fought—unknown to most of the world—since he was 23.
Past recipients of the Legacy Awards include entertainment giants like CSI creator Anthony Zuiker, prolific executive producer Stephen J. Cannell, the legendary Steven Bochco, former PBS President Pat Mitchell, famed television director James Burrows, and Ken Lowe, the Scripps executive who masterminded HGTV.
This year, the Tartikoff Legacy Awards go to an equally awesome bunch: CBS's Nancy Tellem, the William Morris Agency's Mark Itkin, Warner Bros.' Peter Roth, and former NBC chairman and CEO Bob Wright, who worked with Tartikoff after General Electric acquired NBC in 1986. People like these are few and far between. Like Tartikoff, they have made television better.