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Cash, Rashad and Fornatale to be Honored with 2012 AFTRA Foundation AMEE Awards

Posted November 17, 2011

LOS ANGELES (Nov. 17, 2011) --- The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) – a national union of more than 70,000 performers, recording artists and broadcast professionals – today announced the recipients of the AFTRA Foundation’s 2012 AFTRA Media and Entertainment Excellence Awards (The AMEES).

Receiving honors will be broadcaster and rock historian Pete Fornatale, actress Phylicia Rashad and singer Rosanne Cash. The honorees will receive their awards at the AMEES dinner gala benefit to be held Feb. 6, 2012 at The Plaza Hotel in New York.

“The AFTRA Foundation is pleased to recognize these three inspirational and highly accomplished artists who truly represent the diversity and talents of AFTRA members,” said Shelby Scott, AFTRA Foundation President and former AFTRA National President. “Pete, Phylicia and Rosanne have each made significant contributions to their fields and continue to do so with integrity, a commitment to excellence and admiration for their audiences and colleagues. We are thrilled to be able to honor them.”

Pete Fornatale – AMEE Award in Broadcasting

Pete Fornatale

An AFTRA member since 1970, veteran disc jockey and respected rock historian Pete Fornatale has been a fixture of New York radio for more than four decades. He started his career in 1963 as a Fordham undergraduate hosting "Campus Caravan” on WFUV 90.7, where he currently hosts his weekly show, “Mixed Bag.” The program features thematic song selections, plus in-depth interviews and live in-studio performances with some of the world’s most historically influential musicians including Tony Bennett, Ben Folds, Richie Havens, Cyndi Lauper, Lyle Lovett, Graham Nash, Neil Sedaka, Carly Simon, Regina Spektor and Brian Wilson.

Fornatale is the author of several books focused on media, pop culture and music, including “Back to the Garden: The Story of Woodstock,” “Simon & Garfunkel's Bookends” and “All You Need Is Love: And 99 Other Life Lessons from Classic Rock Songs.”

Fornatale co-hosted the 1991 HBO telecast of "Paul Simon Live in Central Park," and has regularly served as an expert guest commentator on PBS specials featuring legendary performers such as Bob Dylan; John Fogerty; The Grateful Dead; Jimi Hendrix; Roy Orbison; Peter, Paul and Mary; James Taylor and others.
His work has been recognized with numerous awards, including the coveted Armstrong Award for Excellence in Musical Programming. He is a board member of WhyHunger and an honorary board member of the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.

Fornatale grew up in the Bronx and graduated from Fordham Prep and Fordham University. He currently resides in Rockaway Park, New York, and is the father of three grown sons.


Phylicia Rashad – AMEE Award in Entertainment

Rashad is an award-winning television, stage and film actress with a career spanning more than 30 years. In 2004, Rashad became the first African-American actress to win the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play for her work in the Broadway revival of “A Raisin in the Sun.” In 2005, Rashad was nominated for the same award for her performance in “Gem of the Ocean.”

An AFTRA member since 1970, Rashad studied theater at Howard University and made her Broadway debut in the 1975 musical “The Wiz.” In 1982, she expanded her career to include television with a regular role on the AFTRA daytime serial “One Life to Live,” but Rashad is perhaps best known as Clair Huxtable, Bill Cosby’s wife on “The Cosby Show.” The groundbreaking AFTRA-covered sitcom ran from 1984 to 1992 and earned Rashad two Emmy nominations for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. Her reprisal of the role of Lena Younger in the 2008 AFTRA-covered ABC television version of “A Raisin in the Sun” earned Rashad an Emmy nomination as well as the 2009 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a TV Movie.

She continues to work steadily on stage and screen, including the recent Broadway run of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and a leading role in Tyler Perry’s 2010 film “For Colored Girls.” Rashad made her directorial debut with the Seattle Repertory Company’s 2007 production of “Gem of the Ocean.” Earlier this year, Rashad directed the Ebony Repertory Theatre’s production of “A Raisin in the Sun,” which has been nominated for eight Ovation Awards including Best Director.

Phylicia Rashad

Rashad belongs to a family of educators and artists. Her mother, Vivian Ayers Allen, is a playwright and poet and her sister is the well-known dancer, director, actress and fellow AFTRA member, Debbi Allen. Rashad’s daughter Condola Rashad is also an actress and fellow AFTRA member. Rashad holds an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from Spelman College, Brown University, Carnegie Mellon University and other notable institutions. In 2011, she was named the inaugural Denzel Washington Chair in Theatre at Fordham University.

Rosanne Cash – AMEE Award in Sound Recordings

Rosanne Cash
Photo: Deborah Feingold

One of America’s preeminent singers and songwriters, Cash has recorded 14 albums and has had 11 number one singles over the past 30 years. Her unique style combines country, rock, roots and pop, producing songs that are both universally appealing and deeply personal.

The daughter of Johnny Cash and his first wife Vivian Liberto, Cash was born in Memphis and raised in Los Angeles. After high school, she joined her father and stepmother, June Carter Cash, on the road, working her way up from the bottom to soloist. She studied drama at Vanderbilt University and at the Lee Strasberg Institute in Los Angeles before turning to a full-time music career. Cash joined AFTRA in 1974.

Cash’s recordings include “Black Cadillac,” “Right or Wrong,” “Seven Year Ache,” “Rhythm and Romance” and “King's Record Shop.” Her 2009 album, “The List,” includes songs selected from a list her father gave her when she was 18 of 100 great American songs. The GRAMMY-nominated album features vocal contributions by Elvis Costello, Jeff Tweedy and Rufus Wainwright, and a duet with Bruce Springsteen. Her latest release, “The Essential Rosanne Cash,” is a compilation spanning her 30 years of work.

Cash won the GRAMMY Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance in 1985 for “I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me” and has received ten other GRAMMY nominations. Cash is also a successful author, with essays and fiction appearing in various collections and publications, including “The New York Times,” “Rolling Stone,” “Time Magazine,” and “New York Magazine.” She authored the children’s book “Penelope Jane: A Fairy’s Tale”and the short story collection “Bodies of Water.”Her most recent book is “Composed: A Memoir.”

Committed to the ideals of service and compassion, Cash has for 25 years supported the work of Children, Inc., an organization dedicated to serving the needs of impoverished children around the world. She is also long-time board member of PAX, an organization working to find solutions to the problem of gun violence in America.

Cash is a mother of five and is married to musician and producer John Leventhal.

For 2012 AMEE Awards sponsorships and advertising info, please call or email: 818-556-6302 or AMEES@doddmediasales.com. 

Christopher de Haan

Awards Night Coverage:
Leslie Simmons

AMEE Awards Coordinator:
Lynda Rivers

About the AMEES
The AMEES were created in 2003 to honor AFTRA members for excellence in their craft and their contributions to the fields of media and entertainment. Proceeds from the 2012 AMEE Awards go to benefit the AFTRA Foundation, an independent non-profit organization separate from AFTRA that provides support to charitable and educational endeavors critical to AFTRA members, including the George Heller Memorial Scholarship which provides scholarships to AFTRA members and their dependents for academic study and the International News Safety Institute, the only global organization solely dedicated to the safety of journalists and other news professionals.

Past AMEE recipients include David Crosby, John Walsh, Jaime Jarrin, Robin Roberts, Charles Osgood, Smokey Robinson, Vin Scully, Jeanne Cooper and Sam Moore. Other past honorees include the late "60 Minutes" producer Don Hewitt and his team of CBS on-air journalists including the late Ed Bradley, Steve Kroft, Dan Rather, Andy Rooney, Morley Safer, Bob Simon, Lesley Stahl and Mike Wallace.

About the AFTRA Foundation
Founded by the AFTRA National Board of Directors in 1997 as a separate legal entity from the union, the AFTRA Foundation is a charitable and educational organization funded through tax-deductible voluntary contributions, grants and bequests—not AFTRA member dues—to support projects outside the scope of normal activities at AFTRA, including charitable endeavors, special conferences, studies, seminars and other events. For more information, visit http://www.aftra.com/AFTRAFoundation.htm.

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, are the people who entertain and inform America. In 32 Locals across the country, AFTRA members work as actors, broadcasters, singers, dancers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audio books, non-broadcast industrials, interactive games, the Internet and other digital media. The 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters and recording artists of AFTRA are working together to protect and improve their jobs, lives and communities in the 21st century. From new art forms to new technology, AFTRA members embrace change in their work and craft to enhance American culture and society. Visit AFTRA online at www.aftra.com.



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