ATAS Launching The Television Academy Honors

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is launching The Television Academy Honors, a new awards show that will recognize programming that the Academy calls “television with a conscience.”

The inaugural awards will be presented at the Beverly Hills Hotel April 22. It will not be televised in its first year, but the Academy hopes it becomes a long-running franchise that will give it another high-profile tent pole.

Dick Askin, chairman and CEO of the Television Academy, also said he envisions the Governor’s Award and the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award, both Emmy Award staples, moving to the new award show.

However despite the recent arbitration settlement with the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Askin does not envision any news or other NATAS-governed programming being included anytime soon.

Not surprisingly, former Vice President Al Gore is on the short list as a potential host or guest of honor.

The Television Academy Honors is being created by the Academy’s Television Cares Committee, which is chaired by John Shaffner, Television Academy chairman and CEO-elect, and Television Cares Committee co-chair and screenwriter Lynn Roth.

With the show untelevised, Askin also expects a waiver from the Writers Guild of America should the writers’ strike still be on come April 22. That would allow the show to use writers, and it could also help to allow actors and producers to attend.

Any show that aired in 2007 is eligible, and entries can be submitted to the Television Academy’s Awards Department Jan. 7-Feb. 4. The honorees will be announced March 11.

According to the Academy, entries can be fiction or nonfiction and submitted as a whole series, a single episode or for a story arc up to three episodes. There is a limit of one entry per series. Made-for-TV movies, miniseries and specials are eligible.

In the first year, there will not be specific categories, rather just a group of probably six to eight honorees, according to Shaffner. A committee of 20 people will choose winners.

The announcement comes as Askin prepares to hand the reins to Shaffner with the Academy in a strong financial position. He put the organization’s net worth in the neighborhood of $25 million, up from $10 million in 2003.