Fri, 03/02/2012

2012 TV Hall of Fame Gala: A Night of Glamour and Giggles

As the social media guru for the Archive of American Television, I was honored to attend last night's 21st Annual Television Hall of Fame Gala at the Beverly Hills Hotel on behalf of the Archive. As a television history scholar and a huge fan of pretty much all things TV, I was blown away by the sheer amount of talent present in the ballroom. Honorees from the beginning of television, to those running today's top programs were in attendance, bringing some of the best in the business together under one roof for a truly memorable evening.

Performers Vivian Vance and Bill Frawley, executive Michael Eisner, show creator/producer Chuck Lorre, executive producers Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray, host Mario Kreutzberger (aka Don Francisco), and lighting director Bill Klages became the newest inductees into the Television Academy’s Hall of Fame. Honoree Sherman Hemsley was unable to attend the ceremony and will be inducted at a later date.

Some highlights of the evening:

* Being on the red carpet and seeing "Caroline Appleby" herself walk by, the still-glamorous Doris Singleton, on-hand to honor I Love Lucy co-star, Vivian Vance.

* Honoree Jonathan Murray sharing the secret of his success: "I surround myself with strong women." He spoke lovingly about production partner and fellow inductee, Mary-Ellis Bunim, who passed away in 2004 and was inducted posthumously at last night's ceremony. Bunim's daughter, Juliana, accepted the honor on behalf of her mother.

* Lighting designer Bill Klages' stories of shows on which he's worked and performers whom he's lit - Milton Berle always wanted to be able to see the audience, Dick Clark often thinks the audience is too bright, Marlo Thomas told him in his lighting she looks beautiful, and Barbra Streisand once simply said to him, "this is the worst lighting ever."

* Univision President Cesar Conde presenting to Mario Kreutzberger: "Kreutzberger is the first Hispanic since Desi Arnaz to be inducted into the Hall of Fame."

* Barry and Stan Livingston of My Three Sons telling tales of co-star William Frawley: it used to be Stan's job to get Frawley back to the studio and keep him awake after Frawley enjoyed several cocktails at lunch.

* Warner Brothers Executive Peter Roth imparting the knowledge that Chuck Lorre has created/co-created six hit sitcoms, the most since Norman Lear and Garry Marshall.

* Marshall himself welcoming friend Michael Eisner into the Hall of Fame, joking that he wouldn't be where he is today without two people: God, and Michael Eisner, and sometimes it's easy to mistake one for the other.

* Being in a room with host Jon Cryer. As a child of the '80s, Cryer will always be "Duckie" from Pretty in Pink to me, and to anyone from my generation. He's fantastic as "Alan Harper" on Two and a Half Men, but I secretly hoped he would channel "Duckie" and suddenly break out into Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness" at any moment.

Thanks to last night's program, I now know that Chuck Lorre is "a giggler" according to the cast members of his shows, and they consider Lorre's laugh to be the gold star they hope to receive after shooting a scene; Happy Days' "Fonz" was originally going to have the last name Masciarelli (Garry Marshall's real last name) and be shortened to "Mash", but since M*A*S*H was on the air at the time and two TV Mashes might be confusing, the name was changed to Fonzarelli; and the script for Pretty Woman was originally called 3000. The things you learn at the TV Hall of Fame ceremony. I may be out of grad school now, but hearing television and film tidbits from the masters themselves is a pretty great continuing education course. has footage of last night's event - check out the red carpet arrivals:

And watch the presenter tributes and inductee acceptance speeches to see what your favorite moments of the evening are. My advice: keep an eye out for a special message from James Burrows for a particularly great line that got a lengthy laugh. With all the comedy talent present last night, don't be surprised if you find yourself laughing as if you're watching your favorite TV shows: a lot of the people responsible for them were in the room, doing what they do best - bringing smiles to hundreds of faces.

- Adrienne Faillace