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‘Sesame Street,’ ‘American Idol,’ and ‘Passions’ among Productions Receiving American Scene Award® Honors at AFTRA Convention

American Scene Award winners stand with AFTRA members to celebrate programming that portrays diversity in a positive and realistic light. From left, Belva Davis, Anita Hollander, Maggie Linton, Peter Gil, Edwin Herzog ("In Home Support Services"), Cathy Jeneen Doe (“Passions”), Jonas Chaney ("Biking Through Black History"), JC Hayward (WUSA9), Roscoe Orman ("Sesame Street"), Laura Kinley ("Shipping Out"), JoBe Cerny ("The Twilight Zone"), Leslie Shreve, Patrick Lynn ("American Idol"), Catherine Brown, Ray Bradford, and Ellie Wang.


PHILADELPHIA (July 20, 2007)---The multiple award-winning children’s program “Sesame Street,” the top-rated reality talent competition “American Idol”, and the daytime drama “Passions” joined seven other recipients that were honored with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists 2007 American Scene Award®, recognizing excellence in programming that portrays diversity in a positive and realistic light.

Producers and performers received American Scene Awards® during a special ceremony at the AFTRA 70th Anniversary National Convention on Friday.
"Diversity is truly alive within our American scene,” said AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon. “For over 37 years, ‘Sesame Street’ has used the medium of television to teach diversity and positive values to our children. Its contributions are second to none and deserving of our top honor, the ‘Crystal’ Award. We are also proud to honor ‘American Idol,’ ‘Passions,’ and a range of excellent television and radio programs that span the continent.”

As part of AFTRA members’ ongoing commitment to increasing equal access to employment opportunities for its diverse membership, these American Scene Awards® were presented:

 “CRYSTAL” AWARD — Created as an "experiment" in 1968, “Sesame Street” debuted on November 10, 1969. The series was designed to use the medium of television to reach and teach preschoolers, and give them skills that would provide a successful transition from home to school. It was truly revolutionary in its commitment to diversity at all levels. For its commitment to excellence, it has received the most Emmys in television history. Roscoe Orman—who has played ‘Gordon Robinson’ for 32 years—received the award on behalf of Children’s Television Workshop and executive producer Carol-Lynn Parente.


“Thank you for giving ‘Sesame Street’ this kind of recognition,” says Roscoe Orman, who has played ‘Gordon Robinson’ for 32 years, in accepting the Crystal Award.

TELEVISION REALITY PROGRAMMING AWARD — Consistently placing among the top three programs in its timeslot for four years running, “American Idol” displays diversity among the celebrity judges, backup singers, and finalists. The six diverse winners all signed with AFTRA signatory record labels, under the RCA banner. From Ruben Studdard and Jordin Sparks to Sanjaya Malakar and Melinda Doolittle, audiences have seen the diversity of the American “singing” scene on display in over 100 countries worldwide. Patrick Lynn, “American Idol” senior producer, received the honor on behalf of American Idol Productions and Fremantle Media, and executive producers Simon Fuller, Cecile Frot-Coutaz, and Simon Jones. 

“American Idol” senior producer Patrick Lynn recognizes the “amazing people” of America.


— As the only recipient in the Award’s history to win back-to-back honors, NBC/Universal Studios’ “Passions” was again recognized above all other daytime drama programs for its consistent level of diversity in casting for all roles. Situated in the fictional New England town of Harmony, the show began in 1999 with four core families, one of which was and continues to be the Lopez-Fitzgeralds. By ensuring diversity in casting and storylines from the very beginning, “Passions” exemplifies the richness of the American scene on daytime television. Cathy Jeneen Doe, who has played ‘Simone’ on “Passions” since 2004, received the award on behalf of NBC/Universal Studios Inc. and executive producer Lisa de Cazotte. 

Cathy Jeneen Doe, who has played ‘Simone’ on “Passions” since 2004, accepts the award on behalf of NBC/Universal Studios and executive producer Lisa de Cazotte.

TELEVISION NEWS STATION “BELVA DAVIS” AWARD — Named in honor of the Bay Area television news pioneer, Washington DC’s WUSA9 is recognized for having one of the most diverse news teams in the country. At a time when the challenge of growing and maintaining diverse newsrooms is greater than ever, this Gannett-owned, CBS affiliate employs anchors and newspersons representing diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and age. WUSA9’s J.C. Hayward, first female anchor in Washington, DC., received the award on behalf of the station—and president and general manager Allan Horlick and news director Mike Ward.

AFTRA Philadelphia member Catherine Brown watches as broadcast news pioneer Belva Davis hugs WUSA9 news anchor JC Hayward after Hayward paid tribute to Ms. Davis in winning the award for television news station.

TELEVISION NEWS PROGRAMMING AWARD — As ABC7’s multiple award-winning reporter, Harry Porterfield is being honored for his “Someone You Should Know” continuing series of human-interest reports that have become a staple of Chicago television news since 1977. In that time, he has profiled over 2,000 subjects, from individuals to organizations, which reflect the broad range and diverse fabric of Chicago’s community. Harry Porterfield received the award.

RADIO PROGRAMMING AWARD — Chicago’s Falcon Picture Group receives an award for its new adaptations of Rod Serling’s classic “The Twilight Zone” on CD format adapted for radio airplay, starring multicultural casts that were not evident when the original productions were created. Receiving the honor was director Jobe Cerny, who is the voice of the Pillsbury Doughboy.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT AWARD — As part of St. Louis’ Diversity Awareness Partnership, KMOV-TV is being recognized for its Diversity Awareness series of PSA’s produced to increase awareness of the value that diversity brings to their community. Producer Tom Rogers received the award by video. 

DOCUMENTARY AWARDS — “Shipping Out: The Story of America’s Seafaring Women”, by Oakland, California’s Waterfront Soundings Productions, tied with “Biking Through Black History”, a production of Pittsburgh’s WPXI-TV. “Shipping Out” examines the history of women and the sea, exploring reasons why women were barred from seafaring life for thousands of years until 1974. “Biking Through Black History” shows how area viewers can get in shape, stay fit and learn about the history of the Underground Railroad by actually riding the route. “Shipping Out” producer Laura Kinley and “Biking through Black History” producer Jonas Chaney of WPXI-TV Channel 11 received the awards.

NON-BROADCAST / INDUSTRIAL / EDUCATIONAL AWARD — Produced by the Bay area’s Service Employees International Union--United Healthcare Workers (SEIU-UHW), “In Home Support Services: People and Services Worth Saving” presents citizens with disabilities in non-stereotypical ways as they participate in the fabric of our society and, with the assistance of caregivers, are able to lead full, productive and creative lives. Producer Edwin Herzog received the honor on behalf of SEIU-UHW.

Administered by AFTRA Equal Employment Opportunities Committee, the American Scene Awards® are made possible by the AFTRA Foundation and have been presented since 1986.


About AFTRA:

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, are the people who entertain and inform America. More than 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists are moving forward together through AFTRA to protect and improve our jobs, lives, and communities. AFTRA members embrace change in society--from new culture to new technology--and incorporate change in our work and craft. AFTRA celebrates and thrives on the diversity of our members and the work we do. AFTRA opens a whole new world of opportunities for success for professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists. In 32 Locals across the country, AFTRA members work as actors, journalists, dancers, recording artists and singers, 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. Visit AFTRA at