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‘This Is Us,’ ‘Speechless,’ ‘Last Week Tonight’ Nab Television Academy Honors

Variety logo Variety 4/12/2017 Cynthia Littleton
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NBC’s “This Is Us,” ABC’s “Speechless” and HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” are among the 2016 selections for Television Academy Honors.

The kudos presented annually by the Television Academy, which also administers the Primetime Emmy Awards, aim to recognize programs that tackle social issues and use television as a forum advocate for social change. Programs that aired during the past calendar year were eligible for submission in the fiction and non-fiction categories.

“With a constant presence in people’s daily lives, television consistently demonstrates its ability to power social change. The six honorees have effectively leveraged the medium to raise awareness of complex issues,” said Television Academy chairman-CEO Hayma Washington. “We are honored to acknowledge storytellers producing meaningful television that provokes important conversations.”

Here is a complete list of honorees:

“Before the Flood” (National Geographic) − Academy Award-winning director Fisher Stevens teamed with Academy Award-winning actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio to create a film centered on protecting the planet. Hailed as “a rousing call to action,” the film displays a riveting account of the dramatic changes occurring around the world due to climate change and advocates for the actions we can take to prevent its catastrophic disruption. (A RatPac Documentary Films Presentation of an Appian Way Production in association with Insurgent Docs & Diamond Docs)

“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO) − This season, viewers were entertained by engaging, deeply researched stories, presented in unorthodox ways; the series also has brought topics that might have escaped the audience to the forefront. One of these topics includes reproductive rights, specifically addressing how availability to safe abortion options for American women has already been dangerously reduced or denied in several states through loopholes and technicalities in the laws. (Produced by HBO Entertainment in association with Sixteen String Jack Productions and Avalon Television)

“The Night Of” (HBO) − This eight-part limited series delves into the intricacies of a murder case in New York City that addresses what happens to suspects in the American criminal justice system, and whether they committed the crime or not. The series brings the inner workings, flaws and life-changing effects of the justice system into focus and touches on issues of race, religion and class. (Produced by HBO Entertainment in association with BBC, Bad Wolf Productions and Film Rites)

“Speechless” (ABC) − This family-centered comedy tells the story of JJ Dimeo, a young man with cerebral palsy, and addresses how his family fights injustices both real and imagined. The show explores life with disability and the challenges and joys that come with it, including searching for independence, respect and finding a voice. (Produced by 20th Century Fox Television)

“This Is Us” (NBC) − A provocative ensemble drama, This Is Us follows the stories of a family at different stages in their lives. The emotionally honest, intergenerational drama explores an array of topics including marriage, abortion, racial identity, body image, the challenges of transracial adoption, and hurdles of parenting in a way that creates an open dialogue. (Produced by 20th Century Fox Television)

“We Will Rise: Michelle Obama’s Mission” (CNN) – Former First Lady Michelle Obama, Meryl Streep, Freida Pinto and CNN’s Isha Sesay take an unforgettable journey to Morocco and Liberia, where they meet young women overcoming incredible odds to better their lives. The program creates a platform for these courageous women to tell their stories. (Produced by CNN Films and The Documentary Group)

(Pictured: “This Is Us”)

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