LOS ANGELES (Top40 Charts/ AFTRA) - The American Federation of Television and Radio
Artists (AFTRA), the people who entertain and inform America, announced that the AFTRA Foundation will honor recording artist Smokey Robinson, broadcaster Vin Scully, actress Jeanne Cooper, and voiceover artist Don LaFontaine at the AFTRA Media and Entertainment Excellence
Awards (The AMEES), at a dinner gala event at the Millennium
Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles on March 9, 2009.
The AMEES recognize members of AFTRA, a national labor union of more than 70,000 performers, journalists, and other artists working in the entertainment and news media, who have made a significant contribution to American culture. The AMEES were created in 2003 to honor AFTRA members for excellence in their craft and their contributions to the fields of media and entertainment. Proceeds from the 2009 AMEE Awards go to benefit the AFTRA Foundation, a separate and independent non-profit organization providing support to charitable and educational endeavors.
"The AFTRA Foundation is proud to honor AFTRA members Smokey Robinson, Vin Scully, Jeanne Cooper, and Don LaFontaine for their lifetime of achievements that have entertained and informed audiences around the world," said Shelby Scott, AFTRA Foundation President and former AFTRA National President.
Acclaimed singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson will be presented the AMEE Award in Sound Recordings. Once pronounced by Bob Dylan as America's "greatest living poet," Smokey's career spans over five decades. He co-founded the Motown Record dynasty with Berry Gordy, and created R&B legends The Miracles who's 1960 single "Shop Around" was Motown's first number one hit on the R&B singles chart. Smokey and The Miracles scored many hits over the years, including "Who's Loving You." Writing for Mary Wells, Smokey penned the hit single "My Guy" (1964), and served as The Temptations' primary songwriter and producer from 1963 to 1966, writing such hits as "The Way You Do the Things You Do" and "My Girl." He has received numerous awards including the Grammy Legend Award, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, an Honorary Doctorate from Howard University, and the National Medal of Arts Award from the President of the United States. In addition to these many honors, Smokey has been inducted into both the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters' Hall of Fame.
Vin Scully, whose status as one of the top sportscasters in history was reaffirmed recently when he was named as "baseball's all-time best broadcaster," will be presented with the AMEE Award in Broadcasting. Vin's 60th season as the "Voice of the Dodgers" is the longest of any current sports broadcaster with one team. Vin has described the heroics of some of the greatest players of the second half of the 20th century. The exploits of Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Don Drysdale, and Sandy Koufax, as well as the world championship seasons of 1955, 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981, and 1988, were brought to life to millions of radio listeners as they unfolded before Vin's perceptive eyes. In 1982, 32 years after he first became a Dodger broadcaster, Vin reached the pinnacle of his sparkling career when he was inducted into the Broadcaster's wing of the National Baseball Hall of Fame as the Ford C. Frick Award recipient. In addition to his Dodger broadcasts, the multi-talented broadcaster has called play-by-play for the NFL, PGA, as well as 12 All-Star Games and 25 World Series for Major League Baseball. In 1995, Vin was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.
The AMEE Award in Entertainment will be presented to actress Jeanne Cooper who recently celebrated 35 years as grande dame Katherine Chancellor on daytime television's most highly-rated soap opera, "The Young and the Restless." Jeanne joined "Y&R" in its first season. The award winning CBS series, created by daytime legend William J. Bell and his wife Lee Phillip Bell, has been the No 1 daytime drama for more than 20 consecutive years in the U.S. and is seen around the globe. As the longest-running cast member on the show, Jeanne has garnered nine Daytime Emmy nominations. She received her first Daytime Emmy Award in 2008 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama. In May 2004, Jeanne was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Daytime Emmy Awards. She earned her first Emmy nomination in 1961 for an episode of "Ben Casey," and another Emmy nomination in 1987 for her recurring role on "L.A. Law," playing the mother to her real-life son, Corbin Bernsen. In 1993, Jeanne was honored with a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1984, footage of Jeanne's real-life facelift was televised on "Y&R" as her character underwent the surgery at the same time. It was the first time an "extreme makeover" had been broadcast on television. Her career began in film and she has starred on numerous primetime television series, including "Playhouse 90," "The Twilight Zone," "Perry Mason," "The Untouchables," "Maverick," "Rawhide," and "Bracken's World." Jeanne is the national spokesperson for the Springboard Center in Midland, Texas, a state-of-the-art comprehensive treatment center serving individual and families affected by addictive disease. She is also the spokesperson for "No2Debt.com," a company that helps people reclaim their lives by getting out from under the burden of debt.
Don LaFontaine, "King of Voiceovers," who passed away on September 1, 2008, at the age of 68 will be posthumously presented with a special AMEE Tribute Award in Voiceover Artistry. A longtime AFTRA member, Don was the voice of ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, UPN, TNT, TBS, and the Cartoon Network. He was the in-show announcer for the Academy Awards, and his unmistakable voice has been heard in hundreds of thousands of movie trailers, radio spots, and TV commercials including advertisements for Chevrolet, Pontiac, Ford, Budweiser, McDonalds, Coke, and many others. "Don will be fondly remembered by all of us who understand and appreciate that performers behind-the-camera give life and color to the stories onscreen," observed AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon. "He was both busy and prolific during his 40-year career, and he always had time and a kind word for his fellow union members. He always supported his union. He will never be forgotten." Don's wife and fellow AFTRA member, singer-songwriter and actress Nita Whitaker, will accept the award on his behalf.
Past AMEE recipients include "60 Minutes" producer Don Hewitt and his team of CBS on-air journalists including Ed Bradley, Steve Kroft, Dan Rather, Andy Rooney, Morley Safer, Bob Simon, Lesley Stahl, and Mike Wallace. Other past honorees include Cedric The Entertainer, Willard Scott, Roberta Flack, Bob Edwards, Don Hastings, Susan Flannery, Amber Tamblyn, Patti Austin, and Robert Hager. The 2008 AMEES honored TV greats Sam Donaldson, Susan Lucci, and vocalist legend Maureen McGovern.