Jay Leno, being inducted into the TV Academy’s Hall of Fame Tuesday night, said he’s glad he left NBC’s Tonight Show when he did because he was the oldest person on the show. Everyone else was 20 to 40 years younger than him and, while you may think you’re holding your own with them, “they’re really just laughing at you,” he explained. “You can’t be hip past a certain age. You have old guy gestures.” And when you make references to The Dick Van Dyke Show they think it’ s “a lesbian joke or something” — and they don’t understand what you’re talking about when you say the time is “Half past 2.”
Leno told the Beverly Wilshire hotel gathering his favorite book is Charles Dickens’ novella “A Christmas Carol” — a searing indictment of 19th century industrial capitalism – and his favorite character in that classic work of literature, Mr. Fezziwig, who treated a young Ebenezer Scrooge like a son. Leno mentioned this by way of saying how proud he was that his Tonight Show was a place where people came to work hard during the day and, at 6, they went home to be with their family.
Even though he’s now “jobless and penniless” Leno still is a “fantastic standup,” said Bill Maher, who inducted Leno into the Hall, and the fact people are wondering what he will do next proves he’s still relevant, the HBO show host said. He described Leno’s more than two decades hosting Tonight as a drive down a highway in “some giant gleaming pristine luxury car with the competition far in the rearview mirror – except one time when NBC,” driving some beat-up clunker, “blindsided him and beat the shit out of his beautiful car.” Maher blamed TV critics for rewriting history to make Leno’s predecessor, Johnny Carson out to be some guy who did a “rebellious, edgy, film noir version” of Tonight Show that by comparison made Jay look like a milquetoast. “That’s all bullshit — and I say that as a fan of Carson,” Maher said. Leno is the victim of “some bad publicity over the years” that he did not deserve – most famously how America got it into its head that “Jay Leno stole Conan O’Brien’s dream,” Maher complained calling it, “the most hysterical thought I’ve ever heard, in a business known for bullshit.”
“Jay reminds me a little of Israel,” Maher continued. “He isn’t perfect but he’s held to standard I don’t think anybody in the world is expected to live up to but him,” he said, calling Leno “the most Machiavellian and also the most morally upright person I know in show business. He will hide in a closet but never needs a confessional booth.”
Amy Poehler, who introduced inductee Julia Louis-Dreyfus, said the night’s one big take away was “let’s all remember TV is better than film and everybody knows it.” Dreyfus said her favorite high school teacher was her physics teacher who told her to, “have fun at all costs,” which she has tried to do ever since, though Seinfeld creator/EP Larry David once told her husband, of having the country’s most popular comedy series on TV, “there is no joy – not one minute of joy.”
Inductee David E. Kelly, meanwhile, thanked mentor Steven Bochco, but quoted poet Robert Frost, ”No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader,” which the writer/producer translated: “If you don’t pour your heart into something don’t expect a similar investment from your audience.”
Sound pioneer and innovator Ray Dolby was inducted posthumously.
Rupert Murdoch, the founder, chairman and CEO of NewsCorp who was maybe the night’s one controversial inductee at the academy’s 23rd annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony — what with his U.K. newspaper phone-hacking scandal, his polarizing Fox News Channel, and who can forget “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?” (he was inducted for creating our fourth broadcast network against the odds, and breaking boundaries with shows like The Simpsons, In Living Color and Modern Family) — said he got into the television business because “I believe in providing consumers with choice.” In five years, he noted, over 60% of the world’s population will have a smart phone.” That’s billions of people “with our shows in their pockets…This revolution is still in its infancy.”
Inductee Brandon Stoddard told a story about being a college student, watching his father in court defending communists who were as “scary as a knitting club” back in the Smith Act era. His father, he said, had lost most of his other clients because he’d agreed to represent the communists. ”That day in court made a great impression on me,” he said. As an executive at ABC, he put on longform programs that had at their root “themes of freedom and justice,” including Roots and The Day After which, he said, had no advertisers” except Orville Redenbacher, who “must have had a CPM of 12 cents.” Some southern stations refused to air Roots and he and his children received death threats, he remembered. “I always believed TV shows should first and foremost entertain, but they should also enlighten and bring new ideas…to the audience. The audience is not dumb. They are as smart as you are,” Stoddard said, warning, “it is so easy to lose sight of the goal because of the huge pressure to succeed.”
From the TV Academy’s announcement:
The 2014 honorees join more than 130 individuals previously inducted into the Hall of Fame since its inception in 1984. Recognized for their extraordinary contributions to the medium, candidates are submitted by the Television Academy’s membership and the industry at large to the Hall of Fame Selection Committee, chaired by Warner Bros. Television Group President and Chief Content Officer Peter Roth. In addition to Roth, this year’s committee included Emmy® Award-winning producer Marcy Carsey; Bonnie Hammer, Chairman of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group; Rick Rosen, Board Member and Head of Television at WME; Fred Silverman, founder of The Fred Silverman Company and former executive at ABC, CBS and NBC; and Nina Tassler, President of CBS Entertainment.
Following is biographical information for this year’s Hall of Fame inductees:
Ray Dolby – Ray Dolby founded Dolby Laboratories in 1965 and created an environment in which scientists and engineers continue to advance the science of sight and sound to make entertainment and communications more engaging. Dr. Dolby’s pioneering work in noise reduction and surround sound led to the development of many state-of-the-art technologies, for which he obtained more than 50 U.S. patents. Known for his insatiable curiosity, Dr. Dolby attributed his success to a personal quest for education that eventually led to a PhD in physics from Cambridge University. Early in his career, while attending high school and then Stanford University, he worked at Ampex Corporation and was the chief designer of all electronic aspects of the first practical videotape recording system. Today, Dolby Laboratories technologies are an essential part of the creative process for recording artists and filmmakers, who continue to use Dolby® tools to bring their visions to life. In the 48 years since Ray Dolby founded Dolby Laboratories, the company has transformed the entertainment experience from the cinema to the living room to mobile entertainment. Tens of thousands of films and billions of products and devices with Dolby technologies have made their way to theatres and homes around the world. The industry has awarded Dolby Laboratories with 10 Academy Awards® and 14 Emmy® Awards for its groundbreaking achievements. Additionally, Dr. Dolby has been the recipient of such prestigious honors and awards as The National Medal of Technology from President Clinton, The Order of Officer of the British Empire (OBE) from Queen Elizabeth II, Honorary Doctorate of Science from Cambridge University, Honorary Doctorate from the University of York, an Oscar, a Grammy, several Emmys, Audio Engineering Society (AES) Silver and Gold Medals and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Edison Medal. In 2004, Ray Dolby was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in the United States and the Royal Academy of Engineers in the United Kingdom.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Julia Louis-Dreyfus earned worldwide acclaim and recognition for her portrayal of Elaine Benes in the hit NBC series “Seinfeld,” as Christine Campbell in the CBS hit comedy “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and most recently as Vice President Selina Meyer in the HBO series “Veep.” Between all shows combined, she has received four Emmy awards and fourteen nominations, a Golden Globe award and four nominations, as well as five Screen Actors Guild awards and eleven nominations. Louis-Dreyfus is currently in production on the third season of the HBO series, “Veep”. Directed by Armando Iannucci, the half-hour comedy centers on the character of Selina Meyer, Vice President of the United States. Louis-Dreyfus recently won her second Emmy Award for this role. Louis-Dreyfus is currently receiving critical acclaim for her starring role as Eva in Fox Searchlight’s “Enough Said,” opposite the late James Gandolfini. The comedy is written and directed by Nicole Holofcener. Her other television credits include multiple appearances on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” which was co-created by Larry David of “Seinfeld,” a recurring role on Matt Groening’s “The Simpsons” on FOX, a recurring role in 2003 on Fox’s critically acclaimed “Arrested Development” and NBC’s 2002 real-time sitcom “Watching Ellie.” Louis-Dreyfus first made her mark on television during a three-year stint (1982-1985) on “Saturday Night Live.” She subsequently hosted the show twice, becoming the first female former cast member to return as host. Louis-Dreyfus is a committed and steadfast defender of the environment. She serves as a member on the leadership council for the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) as well as on the Board of Directors of Heal the Bay and on the Honorary Board of Heal the Ocean. She studied theater at Northwestern University where she was also a recipient of a Doctor of Arts in 2007. During college, she was a member of The Practical Theater Company, and Chicago’s famed Second-City comedy troupe.
David E. Kelley – 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 most recent series is “The Crazy Ones.” 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 Practice” respectively, in the same year (1999). Kelley also is a two-time Television Academy Honors recipient for “Boston Legal” and “Harry’s Law.”
Jay Leno – Acclaimed late night TV show host, admired stand-up comedian, best-selling children’s book author, much-in-demand corporate speaker, lovable TV and movie voice-over artist, pioneering car builder and mechanic, philanthropist…it’s no wonder Jay Leno is widely characterized as “the hardest working man in show business.” All this has paid off: he has dominated late night television for more than two decades as host of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” winning every consecutive quarter of his hosting during this time. He has been honored by the Television Academy with an Emmy for “Outstanding Comedy, Variety or Music Series.” “The Tonight Show” has also taken home the trophy for “Favorite Late Night Show” in the annual TV Guide Awards determined by voting viewers. Leno, himself, is the recipient of the People’s Choice Award and many other honors. As if this were not enough, “Jay Leno’s Garage” – Jaylenosgarage.com – has gained an international following on the Web, not to mention a 2011 Emmy Award and several nominations for Outstanding Special Class–Short-Format Nonfiction Programs. He produces the NBC creation with Robert Angelo. An indefatigable performer, he loves to perform before audiences across the nation, doing over 100 shows in nightclubs, theaters and stadiums each year. In addition to traversing the U.S., he has entertained in various countries, including for U.S. military troops. Jay is also committed to using his talents to help those less fortunate. Each year, he hosts and appears at numerous benefits, including events for those whose lives were devastated by natural disasters and other tragedies. He leads the annual Love Ride in California to benefit humanitarian organizations serving people with autism, muscular dystrophy, and Special Olympics. He has assisted the Gender Apartheid campaign, led by his wife Mavis, together with the Feminist Majority, to free Afghan women from Taliban tyranny, an effort recognized with a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. Jay authors books, records voice-overs and relishes corporate speaking, writes a monthly column in “Popular Mechanics,” and works on his collection of classic cars and motorcycles in his eco-friendly green garage. He and Mavis live in Los Angeles.
Rupert Murdoch – Rupert Murdoch is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of 21st Century Fox, the world’s premier portfolio of cable, broadcast, film, pay TV and satellite assets spanning six continents across the globe. In 1986, the Company created the Fox Television Stations group, which now comprises 28 stations across the U.S. and served as the foundation for the launch of FOX Broadcasting Company – and with it an unprecedented fourth American broadcast network. Since its launch, FOX has revolutionized the television landscape with groundbreaking shows such as “The Simpsons,” “The X-Files,” and “American Idol,” among others. In 1994, the Company acquired rights to National Football League (NFL) games, and formed FOX Sports, which is now the world’s leading sports broadcaster. In October 1996, the Company launched FOX News Channel, which in 2013 will complete its 12th consecutive year as the nation’s most-watched cable news channel. The Company has also successfully established some of the U.S. and the world’s most popular cable networks, including a collection of more than 20 regional Fox Sports cable networks, FX and the National Geographic Channels. In the past 12 months, the Company has launched several new channels, including FXX, FXM, Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2. 21st Century Fox is the major shareholder in British Sky Broadcasting, the U.K.’s first satellite broadcasting operation, which launched in 1989 and is and regarded as the world’s most successful direct-to-home satellite broadcaster. The Company also owns Italy’s leading pay-TV platform, SKY Italia and has a majority interest in Germany’s Sky Deutschland. And through its ownership of STAR, the No. 1 television network in India, 21st Century Fox provides a variety of top-rated local programming services in general entertainment, film, music and sports to more than 500 million viewers in India and across Asia every week. Mr. Murdoch has been awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia (A.C.) for services to the media, and he and his family have been closely involved with, and made generous contributions to various educational, cultural, and medical charitable organizations throughout the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Asia and Israel.
Brandon Stoddard – During more than three decades of pioneering work in network television, Brandon Stoddard was responsible for some of the most memorable moments in the history of the medium. Through his work at ABC, he is known for bringing quality and creativity to every area he oversaw – from children’s programming to prime time series to movies made for TV and, particularly, the mini-series. Stoddard joined ABC Television in 1970 as Director of Daytime Programs and until 1995 he held positions throughout the entertainment division including becoming its President in 1985. Primetime shows created during his tenure included “Thirtysomething,” “The Wonder Years,” “China Beach,” “Full House,” and “Roseanne.” In that era, Stoddard was also responsible for the creation of “Twin Peaks,” “Max Headroom,” and “Slap Maxwell.” Also, as President of ABC’s first in-house production company, ABC Productions, Stoddard shepherded numerous series into production including the award-winning “My So-Called Life.” But Stoddard is probably best known for his participation in the development of the “ABC Novel for Television,” with such landmark productions as “Roots,” “The Winds of War” and “The Thorn Birds,” which became the three most-watched mini-series in television history as well as Herman Wouk’s “War and Remembrance.” Other mini-series most noted during his tenure include “Rich Man, Poor Man,” “Masada,” “East of Eden,” “Roots: The Next Generation,” and “North and South.” Stoddard was also responsible for “The Day After,” the most-watched motion picture made for television in the medium’s history and such highly-acclaimed movies for television as “Something About Amelia,” “Friendly Fire,” “The Dollmaker,” “The Women’s Room,” “Who Will Love My Children,” and “Attica.” In 1979, Stoddard also started a motion picture division within ABC, ABC Motion Pictures, Inc., and served as its President. In addition to motion pictures for television, Stoddard was responsible for the development and production of motion pictures for theatrical distribution. Among the theatricals released under Stoddard’s direction were, “The Flamingo Kid,” “Young Doctors in Love” and the Academy Award-nominated movies, “Silkwood” and “Prizzi’s Honor.” Following his time at ABC, Stoddard devoted ten years, from 2002-2011, to teaching “Advanced Television” to graduate students in the Peter Stark Producing Program at USC’s School for Cinema and Television.