Campus News

66th annual Peabody Awards

Friday Night Lights, Ugly Betty, The Office, Good Eats are among this year’s recipients

Thirty-five recipients of the 66th annual Peabody Awards were announced April 4 by UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The winners were chosen by the Peabody Board as the best in electronic media for 2006. They reflect the ever-broadening definition of ­electronic media and the international scope of the competition, according to Horace Newcomb, director of the Peabody Awards.

“This year the Peabody board reviewed an amazing array of outstanding material,” Newcomb said. “The result is that our work becomes more difficult—and more rewarding—as creators and producers of electronic media develop more and more powerful, important and engaging work.”

The awards will be presented June 4 at the ­Waldorf=Astoria Hotel in New York City. ­Sportscaster Bob ­Costas, host of HBO’s Costas Now, will be the master of ceremonies.

An array of worthy documentaries was again diverse and impressive. In Andy Warhol:

A Documentary Film, presented by American Masters, Ric Burns demonstrated how Warhol’s art, life and notoriety influenced the culture of his times. With amazing cinematography and a fittingly grand musical score, the BBC-National Geographic nature film Galapagos: Born of Fire revealed new wonders on and around the islands that inspired Darwin. Why We Fight, broadcast by CBC, one of a dozen international partners in the production, examined 60 years of American involvement abroad in the context of President Dwight Eisenhower’s famous warning about the “military-industrial complex.” “The Education of Ms. Grove,” a special segment of Dateline NBC, shadowed a young, idealistic first-year middle-school teacher in Atlanta as she learned some crucial lessons herself. No documentary was more original than Braindamadj’d…Take II, Canadian television producer Paul Nadler’s boldly stylized account of his own remarkable recovery from a serious brain injury.

Entertainment series selected included NBC’s Friday Night Lights, a richly textured serial starring UGA drama graduate Kyle Chandler in which a football-obsessed, Texas town becomes a microcosm of America. Brotherhood, Showtime’s riveting drama about two Irish-American brothers in Providence, R.I., and their morally comprised pursuits of the American dream also won an award. Peabodys also went to ABC’s Ugly Betty, a telenovela makeover that explores clashing concepts of beauty, class, race and footwear with intelligence, warmth and wit; NBC’s The Office, a British comedy of workplace manners that has been transferred with pitch-perfect brilliance to Scranton, Pa.; and Scrubs, a sixth-season NBC comedy that never loses its respect for humanity despite a narrative style akin to Looney Tunes.

“Return of the King,” an especially provocative installment of the prickly animated series Boondocks, was the first program televised by Cartoon Network to win a Peabody. The episode imagined a reawakened Martin Luther King Jr.’s reaction to contemporary phenomena from gangsta rap to the war on terror. Three other basic cable channels televised Peabody-winning programs for the first time. Awards went to Good Eats, a deliriously inventive series for Food Network in which UGA alumnus Alton Brown educates viewers about food, science, history and culture. Beyond Borders: Personal Stories from a Small Planet is a series of short films presented on the Independent Film Channel. These films demonstrate that young people around the world had stories to tell and that, given equipment and a little training, could tell them powerfully. For My Country? Latinos in the Military, an even-handed exploration of how Latinos have come to be disproportionately represented in the armed services, is the first Peabody to be presented to mun2, a Telemundo subsidiary aimed at younger viewers.

Cable network HBO received Peabody Awards for a varied range of productions. Spike Lee’s elegiac documentary about New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, When The Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, was recognized by the Peabody board. So, too, was HBO Family’s The Music In Me, an irresistible showcase for superb young performers playing everything from classical cello to zydeco accordion. HBO Sports’ Billy Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer explored the tennis great’s impact on politics and culture as well as women’s athletics. The cable channel also was recognized for Elizabeth I, a richly detailed biographical movie in which Helen Mirren’s performance was a royal splendor in itself; and Baghdad ER, a powerful documentary testifying to the extraordinary dedication of medical personnel confronting the overwhelming carnage of war.

The complete list of this year’s winners is available online (