Neil deGrasse Tyson, Host of FOX's 'Cosmos,' Will Receive Top Honor from National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences has announced that Neil deGrasse Tyson, host and executive producer of the hit FOX series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, will receive the 2015 Public Welfare Medal, the Academy's most prestigious honor. The Public Welfare Medal signifies Tyson's "extraordinary role in exciting the public about the wonders of science."
"Through just about every form of media available, Neil deGrasse Tyson has made millions of people around the world excited about science," said Susan Wessler, home secretary for the National Academy of Sciences and chair of the selection committee for the award. "Ultimately, the success of science depends on the public's understanding of its importance and value. Neil masterfully conveys why science matters - not just to a few, but to all of us."
Tyson is perhaps best known as the host of FOX's Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, a reboot of Carl Sagan's landmark 1980 PBS series. As the host of Cosmos, Tyson takes viewers on a journey through the history of scientific achievement, making even the field's most complex principles, such as the Big Bang or climate change, accessible for all. Cosmos received the largest international rollout in television history, premiering across multiple 21st Century Fox channels in the US, including FOX, FOX Sports 1, and the National Geographic Channel, as well as through the Fox International Channels in 181 countries across 45 languages.
In April, Nat Geo will debut Star Talk, the first ever late-night talk show focusing on science, based on Tyson's popular podcast series of the same name.
In addition to his various projects at 21st Century Fox, Tyson has served as the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium of the American Museum of Natural History since 1995. He has also written 10 books and tweets about science frequently to his more than 3 million followers. The Washington Post reports that Tyson is the "first person to receive the award for his efforts in science communication to the general public since Sagan himself won in 1994."
For more information on the award, visit the National Academy of Sciences' website.
At its annual Los Angeles Awards Dinner on Saturday, February 28, the Family Equality Council honored Fox's Glee and Modern Family for their role in advancing the national conversation about LGBTQ families. New Girl's Max Greenfield presented the awards to Glee creator Ryan Murphy and Modern Family creator Steve Levitan.
"I have always believed in the ideology of one of my friends and idols, Norman Lear, that the way to acceptance is understanding," Murphy said. "You have to see it, experience it in your house and life to empathize. I think the success of Glee and Modern Family brought gay kids and gay families to millions of people who think they didn't know those kinds of people, and then suddenly literally in the course of one month they did. To me, that is the great legacy of these shows and is why public opinion, I think, has changed so radically and so quickly."
Levitan agreed. His series Modern Family, produced by Twentieth Century Fox Television, features Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet as Mitch and Cam, a gay couple raising a daughter.
"We've heard from so many gay teens who have said they feel comfortable coming out because their parents loved Mitch and Cam," Levitan said. "We are very proud to be on the right side of history."
The event also featured several performances by Glee cast members, including Alex Newell, who plays the transgender character Wade "Unique" Adams on the show. Unique was the focal point of a recent episode entitled "Transitioning," in which football coach Shannon Beiste (Dot Marie Jones) returns to McKinley High as Coach Sheldon Beiste, and he struggles to adjust to his new life as a man. He finds support from Unique, who leads a 200-person transgender choir in a performance of "I Know Where I've Been" from the musical Hairspray. FOX worked with GLAAD to assemble the choir.
"Everything we do is through education, through a laugh," said Newell. "We're teaching society that not everyone is the same, and people are different, and their voices have to be heard too."
At the Awards Dinner, Newell sang "I Will Survive" before being joined by fellow Glee cast members Lea Michele, Darren Criss, Chord Overstreet, Jenna Ushkowitz, Harry Shum, and Becca Tobin for renditions of "Dancing Queen" and "Don't Stop Believin'."
The event also honored Honey Maid for their "This Is Wholesome" ad campaign, which featured both gay and straight couples enjoying Honey Maid products. Annise Parker, who became the first openly gay mayor of Houston, Texas, in 2010, also received an award.
As part of the fundraising section of the ceremony, Glee's Darren Criss and American Horror Story's Sarah Paulson helped auction off a walk-on role on the upcoming season of AHS, a series Ryan Murphy created for FX. In total, Saturday's Awards Dinner helped raise more than $618,000 for their initiatives.
The Family Equality Council is a U.S.-based nonprofit advocating for equal representation of LGBTQ families in the media and provides resources for LGBTQ couples looking to adopt children.
Visit the Family Equality Council's website for more information on their programs, and for detailed accounts of the Los Angeles Awards Dinner, visit Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. Ryan Murphy's full speech from the ceremony can be read at Vulture.
Glee's final episode will air on FOX on Friday, March 20.
Photo by Jason Kemping for Getty Images.
Fox Audience Strategy has announced the finalists for the fourth annual Fox Writers Intensive, a competitive fellowship at the Fox Studios Lot in Los Angeles for writers with diverse voices and backgrounds. This year, FWI selected twelve writers and writing teams for the program, which allows participants to work closely with Fox showrunners, writers, directors, and creative executives.
"Authenticity is essential to successful storytelling. That process starts with hiring writers with diverse and authentic points of view, and that's exactly who we want to engage through the Fox Writers Intensive," said Nicole A. Bernard, Executive Vice President of Audience Strategy for 21st Century Fox.
With the help of the nonprofit Film Independent, FWI offers trained writers a fourth-month curriculum focused on developing original material, learning and honing writing skills for multiple mediums, and exploring the business of media and entertainment. Upon completion of the program, finalists receive priority staffing meetings for the established FWI Staff Writer position on Fox productions. The program also aims to provide each writer with a first-look deal on his/her original scripts.
At the conclusion of the intensive, one finalist will be named the 2015 FWI Fellow, who will be awarded either a purchase and development deal on his/her original script or a "first-look" deal from FOX Broadcasting Company or any of its affiliated entities.
This year's FWI finalists were selected from more than 400 nominations and submissions by talent representation and arts organizations across the country. Visit Deadline Hollywood for the full list of finalists.
Fox Audience Strategy is a cross-divisional resource to help Fox film and television businesses engage and appeal to a culturally diverse audience. FAS works with the Fox businesses to encourage more diverse hiring and authentically reflect diverse audiences. Learn more at FoxAudienceStrategy.com.
In its most recent episode, which aired Friday, February 13, FOX's Glee featured a performance by a 200-person choir comprised entirely of people from the transgender community. FOX worked closely with the LGBT advocacy group GLAAD to assemble the choir.
"This really is the face of America and you hope that when people see this episode they'll recognize, 'Hey, they look just like me,'" said Glee executive producer Dante DiLoreto. "This isn't about tolerance, it's about coming home, and coming home to who you really are -- and who you're meant to be and who you're meant to be with."
In the episode, entitled "Transitioning," football coach Shannon Beiste (Dot Marie Jones) returns to McKinley High as Coach Sheldon Beiste, and he struggles to adjust to his new life as a man. He finds support from student Wade "Unique" Adams (Alex Newell), a transgender student who has been a recurring character on the show since the third season. Unique leads the transgender choir in a performance of "I Know Where I've Been" from the musical Hairspray.
"We know [this storyline] will make a difference," Jones told The Hollywood Reporter. "Look at all the things that all the kids on our show have gone through, everything that Chris Colfer and Kurt have gone through. Of any show on broadcast, it should be a Fox show because they are the risk takers. I don't think even taking a risk is the right word. It's just real."
Together, FOX and GLAAD recruited transgender singers from all over the country. According to GLAAD, many of them said they had never been in a room with so many other transgender people before.
For more information on the choir, visit GLAAD.org, and see below for a behind the scenes clip of the episode:
At the 46th Annual NAACP Image Awards on Friday, February 6, Fox Searchlight's Belle was named the year's Outstanding Independent Motion Picture, and Misan Sagay was recognized for writing the screenplay. The event celebrates the outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts (television, recording, literature, motion picture, writing, and directing), as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice through their creative endeavors. Belle received five total nominations, including for Outstanding Motion Picture.
Set in the late 1700s, the film is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a British admiral who was raised by her aristocratic aunt and uncle. Sagay told The Riveter that she wrote the film "to shine a light on issues that had relevance then and have relevance today."
Projects by other 21st Century Fox businesses received nominations, as well. Jamie Foxx and Zoe Saldana received acting nominations for Rio 2 and The Book of Life, respectively.
In the television categories, FOX comedies Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Mindy Project, as well as dramas Gotham, Sleepy Hollow, and Red Band Society received acting nominations, as did FX's American Horror Story: Freak Show and Twentieth Century Fox Television's Modern Family.
For the complete list of winners, visit NAACPImageAwards.net.