Ellen: The Puppy Episode
ABC, The Black/Marlens Company, in association with Touchstone Television
A landmark moment in television history occurred on April 30, 1997, when Ellen DeGeneres and her namesake character acknowledged their homosexuality simultaneously, and Ellen became the first gay lead character in a prime time television series. In making this award, the Peabody Board is neither endorsing the sexuality of Ms. DeGeneres, nor taking sides in the ongoing debate about the role of television in the larger societal debate about values and morality. Rather, the Peabody Award is made, as always, in recognition of distinguished achievement in the art of television. This one-hour special episode was marked by exceptional writing, producing and performing. Producer Ellen DeGeneres, executive producers Mark Driscoll, Dava Savel and Vic Kaplan; along with consulting producers Tracy Newman and Jonathan Stark; and the writing team of Ms. Newman, Mr. Driscoll, Ms. Savel, Mr. Stark and Ms. DeGeneres, have created the highest form of comedy – at once hilarious and heart-felt. The acting of the Ellen ensemble is excellent, including Ms. DeGeneres, Joely Fisher, David Anthony Higgins, Clea Lewis, and Jeremy Piven. Guest stars Laura Dern, Steven Eckholdt and Oprah Winfrey are equally exceptional, as Ellen’s secret is exposed in inventive, imaginative and endearing ways. Throughout the hour, the camaraderie, caring and concern expressed by the ensemble remain sharp and credible. As a result, the viewer is left with the message that family and social support are necessary for all of us, regardless of our sexual orientation. For creating courageous and clever comedy with historic significance, a Peabody goes to ABC, the Black/Marlens Company in association with Touchstone Television, for Ellen: The Puppy Episode.