Lear Center announces Sentinel Awards winners; Larry Wilmore honors TV icon with humor.

The Norman Lear Center at USC Annenberg recently celebrated its 2023 Sentinel Awards winners, but the event was overshadowed by the passing of the center’s namesake and inspiration, the iconic Norman Lear. But in true showbiz fashion, the show must go on, and so it did, with Emmy-winning comedian and writer Larry Wilmore hosting the event.

Wilmore paid tribute to Lear, joking that “the man knew how to make an exit,” and emphasizing the importance of acknowledging television’s best and brightest writing. Lear’s wife, Lyn, also shared her sentiments, expressing her pride in the work of The Lear Center and Hollywood Health and Society.

The top honor of the event, the Sentinel Award, was bestowed upon 11 winners, recognizing their meaningful and accurate portrayals of important topics such as abortion, climate change, and mental health. Hollywood, Health & Society program director Kate Folb praised the writers for their commitment to telling stories that not only entertain audiences but make a significant impact beyond the small screen.

Presenters at the event included Emmy-nominated actor and producer Kathryn Hahn, Emmy-winning producer/choreographer and actor Debbie Allen, Grammy-winning performer and actor Ben Harper, along with several other talented individuals from the entertainment industry.

The 2023 Sentinel Award Winners included writers from various series, such as “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Mrs. Davis,” “Superman & Lois,” and “Best Foot Forward,” each addressing deeply impactful topics with care and accuracy.

In a touching tribute to Lear and his legacy, Marty Kaplan, founding director of the Norman Lear Center, emphasized the importance of storytelling in reflecting and embracing our common humanity, an aspect that Lear’s shows were known for.

The event truly underscored the impact of television in shaping public perceptions and raising awareness of critical societal issues. It was a celebration of the power of storytelling and its ability to inspire positive change.

Despite the somber tone set by Lear’s passing, the event ultimately captured the spirit of resilience and celebration, as guests and honorees alike came together to honor the legacy of Norman Lear and his profound influence on the entertainment industry as a whole.

In conclusion, the 2023 Sentinel Awards proved to be a heartfelt celebration of artistic achievements and the indelible impact of storytelling on society, marking a fitting tribute to the late Norman Lear. Here’s to the power of television and the enduring legacy of an entertainment icon.

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