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Norman Lear’s Legacy Illuminated at 2023 Sentinel Awards Celebrating Impactful TV Storytelling

Beverly Hills Event Honors Lear’s Enduring Influence on Television and Social Narratives

By Dolores Quintana

The Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills set the stage for the 2023 Sentinel Awards, shining a spotlight on Norman Lear’s influential life and legacy. In a heartfelt statement read by Marty Kaplan, Lyn Lear shared Norman’s pride in The Lear Center and Hollywood Health and Society. Her statement read, “I would have been there tonight if not for the passing of our beloved Norman. He was so proud of the work of The Lear Center and Hollywood Health and Society. And he would not have wanted all of us to mourn. He would want us to celebrate the important shows you are honoring tonight, and most of all… he would want us to laugh.”

The evening, hosted by Larry Wilmore, paid tribute to Lear’s impact on television and storytelling. A press statement from the organization said, “Norman Lear’s life and legacy took center stage at the 2023 Sentinel Awards at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills.”

Kathryn Hahn, Debbie Allen, Adam Brody, Ben Harper, Cheryl Strayed, Damon Lindelof, Jake McDorman, and Peyton List were among the stars in attendance for a night that celebrated the icon and his lasting impact on television and the world. 

The Norman Lear Center, dedicated to studying the social impact of media, marked nearly 25 years of academic research. Wilmore joked, “Well, you got to say this about Norman – the man knew how to make an exit. He knew his audience. And wanted us to make sure we were all listening.”

Wilmore continued, “A giant has left us and we’re going to do him proud. This evening meant a lot to Norman because he believed television can reflect our best. That’s why the Sentinel Awards were created – to honor television’s best and brightest writing.” 

Acknowledging the Sentinel Award winners, Hollywood, Health & Society program director Kate Folb commended the writers for their commitment to impactful storytelling. The ceremony featured stars like Kathryn Hahn, Debbie Allen, Ben Harper, and others as presenters. The winners included writers Damon Lindelof and Tara Hernandez, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Zoanne Clack and Zaiver Sinnett, and Liz Tigelaar.

2023 Sentinel Award Winners Include:

Depiction of Abortion: Julie Wong, Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) – “When I Get to the Border”

Depiction of A.I.: Tara Hernandez & Damon Lindelof, Mrs. Davis (Peacock) – “The Final Intercut: So I’m Your Horse”

Depiction of Breast Cancer: Brent Fletcher & Todd Helbing, Superman & Lois (The CW) – multi-episode storyline (4 episodes)

Depiction of Disabilities: Matt Fleckenstein, Zach Anner, and Gillian Grassie, Best Foot Forward (Apple TV+) – “Halloween”

Depiction of Climate Change: Scott Z. Burns, Extrapolations (Apple TV+) – ‘2046: Whale Fall’

Depiction of Diplomacy: Debora Cahn and Anna Hagen, The Diplomat (Netflix) – “Some Lusty Tornado”

Depiction of Economic Disparities: Chris Estrada, Matt Ingebretson, Pat Bishop, Jake Weisman, This Fool (Hulu) – “Los Botes”

Depiction of End of Life: Liz Tigelaar, Tiny Beautiful Things (Hulu) – “The Nose”

Depiction of Maternal Health: Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Fleishman is in Trouble (FX on Hulu) – “Me-Time”

Depiction of Mental Health: Adam Kay, This is Going to Hurt (AMC+) “Episode 6” – BBC

Depiction of Systemic Racism: Zoanne Clack and Zaiver Sinnett, Station 19 (ABC) – “We Build Then We Break”

The Sentinel Awards by Hollywood, Health & Society honor TV entertainment that informs and impacts audiences on various health and social topics. The ceremony introduced a new trophy, symbolizing the power of storytelling that makes a difference. For more information, visit Hollywood Health and Society.org.

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