The 60th Annual George Foster Peabody Awards were announced today and HBO's critically acclaimed Mob drama and NBC's behind-the-scenes political series made Peabody history, becoming the first two shows ever to repeat in the same year.
"Having two programs win consecutive years is unprecedented," says Louise Benjamin, director of the Peabody Awards. "Both the West Wing and The Sopranos have been consistently excellent and compelling dramas."
Benjamin says the only other show to win the honor back to back was CBS' off-beat Northern Exposure in the early '90s.
Fox's Malcolm in the Middle also received kudos for its riotous look at a dysfunctional, but loving family.
Other honorees included Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Indecision 2000 for its hilarious coverage of 2000 presidential election campaign, and Katie Couric, who picked up a prize for her weeklong expose on colon cancer. The Today Show host underwent a colonoscopy on the air as part of her crusade to increase awareness of the disease, which claimed the life of her husband, TV legal analyst Jay Monahan.
The big winner this year was by far and away HBO. The cable network took home five awards. In addition to The Sopranos, HBO was honored for King Gimp, an Oscar-winning documentary about a disabled artist, Ali-Frazier 1: One Nation...Divisible, Cancer: Evolution to Revolution and the six-hour miniseries The Corner.
The CBS drama Sharing the Secret won an award for confronting the facts of bulimia, while A&E's The Crossing was singled out for its engaging look at George Washington's crossing of the Delware.
And surprising no one, PBS as usual was honored for excellence in many of its programs including Frontline: Drug Wars and Masterpiece Theater's retelling of David Copperfield. Public radio received accolades for The NPR 100, highlighting the 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century, the financial newsmagazine Marketplace and Witness to an Execution, a collection of recordings of those involved in the penal system.
The Peabodys, doled out by the University of Georgia's Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications, recognize outstanding achievement in the broadcasting and cable industry. Unlike the Emmys, there are no categories or special divisions. Winners are determined solely based on their merit.
This year's total of 34 winners were chosen from a field of 1,100 entries. A complete rundown of winners can be found at www.peabody.uga.edu.