2018: Norman Lear
On November 15, 2018 the Rod Serling Award was presented to American television writer and producer Norman Lear who produced such 1970s sitcoms as All in the Family, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, and The Jeffersons -- each of which used humor to provoke audiences to critically examine race, privilege, class, and gender in American Society. He founded People for the American Way, a nonprofit that supports the values of freedom, fairness, and opportunity in a diverse democratic society. Presenting the award with Dean Gayeski was 1986 Park School cinema graduate Mike Royce, who works with Lear as an executive producer and co-showrunner of “One Day at a Time” on Netflix.
2017: Bill D'Elia '69 and David E. Kelley
Bill D'Elia and David E. Kelley, are among the first recipients of the Television Academy Honors given by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to recognize those that create “television with a conscience” with programs that “present issues of concern to society in a compelling, emotional and insightful way.”
Bill D’Elia is a 1969 Television-Radio graduate of Ithaca College and is is a recognized television director-producer beginning with multiple episodes of the Emmy award-winning Northern Exposure. Today his directing credits include episodes of the Emmy award-winning series Boston Legal, The West Wing, and Glee, several movies for television, and episodes of hit series such as Blunt Talk, Grey’s Anatomy, and How To Get Away With Murder. He is the recipient of a Peabody, two Television Academy Honors Awards, eight Emmy nominations, four Golden Globe nominations, and a DGA nomination for his work in television. He has had a long collaboration with David E. Kelley, also honored during this event.
In 2004, during the final season of The Practice, he became a consulting producer/director on the show, helping David E. Kelley create the characters and settings that would become the legal dramedy Boston Legal. He then directed the pilot and executive produced the series along with Mr. Kelley. In 2010 he directed the pilot for Harry’s Law, starring Kathy Bates and created by David E. Kelley. In 2012, Bill directed and executive produced the pilot for Monday Mornings, created by David E. Kelley and based on the book written by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Bill then continued to direct and, with Mr. Kelley and Dr. Gupta, executive produce the ten-part series Monday Mornings which aired on TNT in 2013.
Multi award-winning writer/producer David E. Kelley is the mind behind some of America’s most distinctive television series. As creator of the Emmy, Peabody and Golden Globe Award-winning shows Boston Legal, The Practice, and Ally McBeal, the critically acclaimed dramatic series Harry’s Law, Boston Public and Chicago Hope, and the multiple award-winning drama series Picket Fences, Kelley’s writing and executive-producing style continues to intrigue television viewing audiences. His latest projects include the adaption of Liane Moriarty’s book Big Little Lies which has received multiple awards including the Emmy for Outstanding Limited Series, the critically acclaimed adaption of Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes and the drama series Goliath.
After receiving his law degree from the Boston University School of Law, Kelley was an attorney practicing law in Boston before venturing into the world of entertainment. Honored with four George Foster Peabody Awards, a Television Showmanship Award from the Publicists Guild of America, the David Susskind Lifetime Achievement Award from the Producers Guild and the TV Guide Awards’ inaugural Brandon Tartikoff Award, Kelley was also the subject of a tribute by the Museum of Television and Radio and was named a Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame Honoree. He is the recipient of the Monte Carlo Television Festival’s first Showman of the Year Award, the Casting Society of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and has been honored by the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. In addition, he has received the prestigious Humanitas Prize for two consecutive years for The Practice, and was presented with both The Paddy Chayefsky Lifetime Achievement Award and The Paul Selvin Award from the Writers Guild of America. To date, Kelley is the only Producer to ever win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy and Outstanding Drama, Ally McBeal and The Practicerespectfully, in the same year (1999). In 2014, Kelley was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.
2016: Kenya Barris
As a writer, Kenya Barris is known for his quick wit and unabashed sense of humor. He started out as a writer in 1998 and has since worked on several television shows, including CBS’s Listen Up, CW’s The Game and Girlfriends, and Fox’s I Hate My Teenage Daughter. He has also sold a number of pilots—including America’s Next Top Model, which he co-created and is currently shown in 49 countries with 21 internationally formatted offshoots—as well as BET’s The Start Up, starring Diggy Simmons, and We Got Next, Hulu’s first half-hour comedy series.
Kenya Barris is under an overall deal at ABC Studios where he’s the executive producer and co-showrunner on Black-ish as well as the co-creator and executive producer of the upcoming hour-long series Unit Zero, starring Toni Collette, and a half-hour series Libby & Malcolm, starring Felicity Huffman. He is also under an overall deal with 20th-Century Fox Film where he’s developing several projects including Uptown Saturday Night, Cheaper by the Dozen, and Stir Crazy.
2015: David Simon
David Simon is a Baltimore-based author, journalist, and television writer/producer. A former crime reporter for the Baltimore Sun, he is the creator of the celebrated HBO series The Wire, which depicts the political and socioeconomic fissures in an American city. His other television credits include the NBC drama Homicide and HBO’s The Corner, Generation Kill, and Treme.
His most recent project is Show Me a Hero, an HBO miniseries depicting the 1987-93 housing desegregation battle that divided Yonkers, N.Y.
Simon is also the author of two books of narrative nonfiction, Homicide and The Corner. Simon is a 2010 MacArthur Fellow.