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AFTRA Foundation Honors Icons at 2009 AMEE Awards

Posted March 09, 2009

Four entertainment and media icons of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists—Jeanne Cooper, Smokey Robinson, Vin Scully, and the late Don LaFontaine—were honored on Monday, March 9 at the 2009 AFTRA Media and Entertainment Excellence Awards (The AMEES) at the Millennium Biltmore hotel in Los Angeles.

The gala dinner event brought in more than 340 guests and raised money for the AFTRA Foundation, a charitable and education organization funded through tax-deductible contributions, grants, and bequests to support projects outside the scope of normal AFTRA activities, including charitable events, special conferences, studies, seminars, and other endeavors critical to AFTRA members, such as the International News Safety Institute, the only global organization solely dedicated to the safety of journalists and other news professionals.

 
Jeanne Cooper. Photo: Getty Images









Cooper, who for the last 35 years has played the grande dame of Genoa City, Katherine Chancellor, on CBS' "The Young and the Restless," received the AMEE Award in Entertainment. She was presented the award by Maria Arena Bell, head writer and co-executive producer for the #1 daytime drama. Bell spoke of Cooper's dedication to the series and to AFTRA,  looking out for the show's young performers and often hosting AFTRA representative meetings in her "office," a.k.a. her dressing room. "I never wanted to be a star. I wanted to be an actor," Cooper said in accepting the AMEE. "But to be a working professional, you need rules and protections and you have to work together with other professionals. This is what actors do through AFTRA. God bless this union, and I am so grateful to the AFTRA Foundation for this tremendous honor."




 
Terrance Howard and Smokey Robinson.
Photo: Getty Images






Robinson, a five-decade member of AFTRA, received the AMEE Award in Sound Recordings. Presenting his award was actor Terrence Howard, who said Robinson was an inspiration to him and many people in the room. "Smokey was the father I always wished I had," Howard said. "Every one of us has loved Smokey, lived Smokey, dreamed Smokey, and I am very honored to present him with this award." Howard also spoke of the importance of AFTRA and its representation of all artists. "Unity not uniformity. That's what a union is, and that's why it's so important that we all support a union like AFTRA," he said.





 Vin Scully. Photo: Getty Images






Scully
, "the Voice of the Dodgers," received the AMEE Award in Broadcasting. He was presented the award by the "Voice of the Clippers," Ralph Lawler. "AFTRA is truly the greatest union on Earth," 

Scully said in accepting the award. "I'm so proud to be an AFTRA member and this honor is very dear to me. Thank you so much to the AFTRA Foundation for this award and for all the support you provide to AFTRA members around the country."




Nita Whitaker-LaFontaine and her daughters.
 Photo: Getty Images






The late voiceover artist, Don LaFontaine, who passed away in September 2008, was honored with the AMEE Tribute Award in Voiceover Artistry. Known as the "King of Voiceovers," the tribute award was presented by another legendary voiceover artist, George DelHoyo, to LaFontaine's widow, singer Nita Whitaker-LaFontaine.

"Don loved AFTRA more than anyone could possibly know," Whitaker-LaFontaine said. "As he used to say, 'My admiration for AFTRA and AFTRA members cannot be overstated.' He was always proud to be an AFTRA member and work under AFTRA contracts. I wish he were here tonight to see this room so full of his friends and colleagues and so full of the same love and passion that fueled his life and work. This award is a true blessing and and I am very honored to accept it on his behalf."

 

 
AFTRA President Roberta Reardon.
Photo: Getty Images

The AMEES recognize members of AFTRA, the people who entertain and inform America, who have made a significant contribution to American culture. 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 2009 AMEE Awards go to benefit the AFTRA Foundation.

Click here to view photos from the 2009 AFTRA Media and Entertainment Excellence Awards.
 

 

 










 

 

 

 

 

  

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