Television producer David L. Wolper received the Distinguished Service Award during the NAB opening ceremonies this morning in Las Vegas.
Called “a mentor, confidante, counselor and above all, a friend” to NAB President/CEO David Rehr and the broadcasting industry as a whole, Wolper was celebrated for a 50-year oeuvre that includes Roots, The Thorn Birds and the Opening Ceremonies of the 1984 Olympics, among many, many others.
Wolper, whose struggles with Parkinson’s prevented him from attending in person, had his son Mark appear on his behalf, and sent a video expressing his gratitude. Mark said his father was passionate about creating art that made people “think, question, argue, and hopefully sometimes change.”
The senior Wolper’s video saw him thank the 108 broadcasters who took a chance on his first work, The Race for Space, some 50 years ago, which enabled him to recoup his life savings and create more films. Wolper called the award “a marvelous honor.” “I don’t know if I deserve it, but I want it,” he added, pounding his fist for emphasis.
It being the 30th anniversary of Roots, Mark Wolper discussed the significance of the landmark miniseries with stars Levar Burton and Leslie Uggams, who felt the film’s central themes of freedom and education were every bit as relevant today.