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NATPE 2009: The Sixth Annual Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Awards

To consider all that Brandon Tartikoff accomplished as president of NBC Entertainment, it's important to realize how bad NBC was in 1981, when, at 31, Tartikoff took over. There was no instant turnaround in the Nielsens. But in a few short years, after hits like Cheers, Hill Street Blues, The Cosby Show,Family Ties, Golden Girls and St. Elsewhere, NBC was not only on top of the ratings but on top with programs that were among the best in TV history.

Tartikoff passed away in 1997, at the age of 48, from Hodgkin's disease, which he had fought—unknown to all but a few close friends—since he was just out of college. The Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Awards began in 2004, and have become an honor that program executives and creators treasure.

Those who knew Tartikoff appreciated his sense of humor and his respect for the creative process. He made TV better, as this year's four winners have. Chuck Lorre, Tyler Perry, Ben Silverman and Anne Sweeney will be feted at NATPE on Jan. 26. On the pages that follow, you'll learn more about them.