Celebrated HBO Series Creator David Simon to be Honored with Rod Serling Award from Ithaca College

By David Maley, January 19, 2016

Celebrated HBO Series Creator David Simon to be Honored with Rod Serling Award

The ceremony honoring David Simon with the Rod Serling Award for Advancing Social Justice Through Popular Media will be streamed live from the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles. You can watch the ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 4, beginning at about 10:30 p.m. EST (7:30 p.m. PST), at livestream.com/parkmedianetwork.

The inaugural Rod Serling Award for Advancing Social Justice Through Popular Media will be presented to David Simon, whose HBO television series “The Wire” and “Treme” have been celebrated as rich and realistic portraits of urban life in contemporary America. The award was established by Ithaca College, where Serling taught from 1967 until his untimely death in 1975.

“Rod Serling modeled for us how to master the craft of screenwriting while always remaining conscious of the social responsibility that comes with garnering huge audiences,” says Diane Gayeski, now dean of Ithaca College’s Roy H. Park School of Communications and a former student of Serling’s in the 1970s.

“It is fitting that the first person selected to receive this award in Rod’s honor is David Simon, an extraordinary professional whose passion to make an impact with journalism led him to seek an even more powerful platform in a television channel that doesn’t compromise his ability to take on controversial, complex issues.”

The award will be presented by Carol Serling — Rod’s widow and a former member of the Ithaca College Board of Trustees — in a ceremony scheduled for February 4 at the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles.

Simon is a Baltimore-based author, journalist and television writer/producer. A former crime reporter for the Baltimore Sun, his books of narrative non-fiction “Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets” and “The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood” were both adapted into television series.

His HBO credits also include “Generation Kill” and the miniseries “Show Me a Hero,” and the network has ordered two new pilots from him: “The Deuce,” a drama about the porn industry in New York City in the 1970s and ’80s, and an untitled political drama set on Washington’s Capitol Hill.

Simon has been honored with Peabody, American Film Institute, Writers Guild and Directors Guild Awards, and in 2010 he received a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship.

The Rod Serling Award for Advancing Social Justice Through Popular Media honors a contemporary media industry professional whose work shines the light on prejudice, inequality and evolving social norms.

From his pioneering efforts for the small screen to his work on Hollywood blockbusters, Serling became one of the industry’s most respected writers. In his groundbreaking series “The Twilight Zone” — still broadcast around the world more than 50 years after its premiere — he proved that commercial television could tackle serious, controversial subjects through a captivating sci-fi/fantasy genre.

Ithaca College is the home of the Rod Serling Archives, an extensive collection of television scripts, film screenplays, stage play scripts, films, unpublished works, awards and other materials. From 2006–13 the Roy H. Park School of Communications hosted a biennial Rod Serling Conference, focused on his creative work and featuring research presentations, panel discussions, performances of his unproduced works and an opportunity to view some of his classics of early television.

Also recognized at the Paley Center ceremony will be the five finalists in the Rod Serling Short Script Competition, a contest for non-produced writers whose submission displays traits of either a horror or a science fiction genre, while exhibiting strong traditional or contemporary social themes. A panel of Park School judges narrows down the field, with Carol Serling reading the five finalists and helping select the winner.

For more information on Rod Serling at Ithaca College, visit www.ithaca.edu/rhp/serling.

For more information on the award and ceremony, contact Melissa Gattine, marketing communications manager, at (607) 274-1023 or mgattine@ithaca.edu.