The 12th Annual BROADCASTING & CABLE Hall of Fame ceremony and dinner last week at the Marriott Marquis hotel in New York drew luminaries from all over the media world, all there to honor the 11 special men and women inducted.
Hey, Don Imus, you should have been there.
Imus, the rascally Infinity radio personality who joined B&C's honor roll this year, was the only living inductee who was a no-show. (The I-man had ranted on the air since being chosen that he just doesn't do awards shows)
As usual, ABC's Sam Donaldson was the evening's master of ceremonies, along with Hall of Fame Chairman and former B&C Editor Don West and Reed Television Group Senior Vice President Bill McGorry.
Of course, the 11 media powers inducted (three posthumously), were the real stars of the night.
With last week's new inductees, The BROADCASTING & CABLE Hall of Fame has grown to 224 men and women who represent the best that the electronic communications industry has come to be. The black-tie dinner benefited two organizations. One is the Broadcasters' Foundation, which helps broadcast veterans contend with medical or other crises, and was represented eloquently at the show by King World's Deborah Norville, host of Inside Edition. CBS legend Walter Cronkite spoke for the other beneficiary, the IRTS Foundation, which provides funds, internships and seminars to further knowledge of the television and radio business.
DirectTV Chairman and CEO Eddy Hartenstein got a special kick out of the awards show. "Well, well, well," he began. "The Hall of Fame indeed. The Broadcasting & Cable
Hall of Fame," he said, emphasizing those two competitive types of distribution. "Who in the hell let the DirecTV people in? that's what I want to know."
Hartenstein concluded by noting, "We launched this eight years ago, and we all heard the saying, 'It doesn't take a rocket scientist.' Well in this business, it really does. At least a few."
Lowell 'Bud' Paxson
Lowell "Bud" Paxson, the chairman of Paxson Communications, built a network in the mid '90s from a bunch of small stations and made the broadcasting world pay attention to his Pax TV. "I continue to remind myself every day that I'm just an entrepreneur, and entrepreneurial traits are a God-given gift to challenge the norm—primarily to avoid boredom but to embrace creativity with a passion."
The fact that radio host Don Imus didn't show up for the BROADCASTING & CABLE awards dinner didn't surprise many.
It's that vinegary side that helped get Imus into the Hall of Fame in the first place, and he said from the get-go that he wasn't coming. Emcee Sam Donaldson introduced a film clip and said, "Don Imus is many things. Unpleasant is one of them." But he's not a liar.
Lifetime President and CEO Carole Black (shown with Reed TV Group's Bill McGorry) became a success at Procter & Gamble, then as general manager at KNBC(TV) Los Angeles, but especially at Lifetime, which for about two years has been cable's best-watched network. "The truth is, television is the most powerful medium that has ever existed," she said, and using the power to do good is what Lifetime "strives to do every day through our entertainment, our information and our advocacy."
Robert Miron, chairman and CEO of Advance/Newhouse Communications, and a member of NCTA's board since 1983, had simple advice for cable operators.
"Despite all the technological advances, I think the same fundamentals on which we focus so much time and attention over the past decade will even be more critical to our industry in the future," he said in his brief but obviously sincere comments at the dinner.
"We must never lose sight of the fact that the customer is king and we must respect that customer, as we would any royalty."
For more than 30 years, Bob Schieffer has covered Washington, and he moderates Face the Nation. Fame has found him.
It wasn't always like that, he said, picking up his Hall of Fame award. He recalled that, three or four years after joining CBS, he was tapped to be the substitute anchor for Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News
one day. He wondered aloud how he should explain himself to viewers. A producer heard his query, raced to the typewriter and, a few minutes later, handed Schieffer his opening lines:
"Try this: 'Good evening. Walter Cronkite is on vacation. Roger Mudd is sick. Dan Rather is in Alaska. And H.V. Kaltenborn is dead. So here I am.'"
Kelsey Grammer has been a fixture on TV since the early '80s when Dr. Frasier Crane showed up in NBC's Cheers
and then later as the star of his own show, Frasier, now in its 10th hit season on NBC.
"I'm just a kid who wanted to be an actor," Grammer said, "and I've been given just about everything I ever asked for, and a good deal more actually."
The star among equals at the Hall of Fame was certainly Oprah Winfrey, whose talk show turned her into a worldwide phenomenon. She recalled that, when Dennis Swanson signed her in 1983 to host The Oprah Winfrey Show
on WLS-TV Chicago, he told her, "The only problem you're going to have, young lady, is how to handle your success." Turning toward Swanson, who was in attendance, she said, "I did not understand what you meant at that time, but I have managed to keep my feet on the ground—even though I'm wearing better shoes."
Bill McGorry, senior vice president of the Reed Television group, said that, shortly before Peter Barton's Sept. 8 death at age 51 of gastric cancer, "he told me he probably wouldn't be around this evening. But you always knew when Peter was in the room, and I'd like to think that Peter is in our room tonight."
Barton was the high-spirited founding president and chief executive of Liberty Media Corp., known for his playfulness, inventiveness, and his ability to make a deal.
He was eulogized by former New York Gov. Hugh Carey, for whose campaign he worked before he got into the television business. Here, Barton's widow, Laura, and their three children accept his award from Reed TV Group's Bill McGorry.
The late Lew Wasserman, the former president, chairman and CEO of MCA, built a powerhouse that eventually included Universal TV—and spawned dozens of hit shows. In Hollywood, as Jack Valenti (at left), the president of the Motion Picture Association of America, said in his Hall of Fame tribute, Wasserman was a legend.
If Hollywood is Mount Olympus, then Lew Wasserman was Zeus," said Valenti, "because of his long, uninterrupted journey toward the highest point to which creativity and integrity can soar. He towered over everybody. He cannot be replaced; he cannot be Xeroxed."
Though The Washington Post is better known for its newspaper, Post-Newsweek stations have a large, influential presence, and the late chairman and CEO of The Washington Post, Katherine Graham, brought the same integrity to television that she enriched on the paper. Shown here (l) with his sister, journalist Lally Weymouth, and Hall of Fame Chairman Don West, Post
Publisher Don Graham said of his mother, "The toughest part of her great decisions at the time of the Pentagon Papers and Watergate were the challenges to our television stations that she knew would ensue if she made the decisions she did. And she went ahead and made them and then won those challenges."