“Tonight, we are here to celebrate people who are not French,” Jon Cryer joked as he opened the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Hall of Fame Induction at the Beverly Hills Hotel Thursday night.
The non-French 2012 inductees are CBS sitcom king Chuck Lorre , Michael Eisner, reality pioneers Bunim/Murray Productions (“The Real World,” “A Simple Life,” “Keeping up with the Kardashians”), Mario Kruetzenberg (Don Francisco, of “Sabado Gigante” fame), lighting designer Bill Klages (Emmys, Tonys, Grammys, Golden Globes and the 1984 Olympics), and late “I Love Lucy” cast members Vivian Vance and William Frawley.
“It’s nice to be at the big kids’ table with all these fancy scripted people,” Jon Murray said. “As a kid, my Christmas morning was when the TV Guide Fall Preview issue would come. I would cut it up and reprogram each network.”
While the vocal and star-studded Lorre delegation may have been about a third of the 45 tables (Ashton Kutcher, Melissa McCarthy, Johnny Galecki, Billy Gardell, Kaley Cuoco), his presentation had the entire ballroom in his corner bringing laughs to his unenviable slot after 11 speeches and six video packages.
“Years from now, Chuck Lorre will be in his grave rewriting his own headstone,” Warner Bros. TV President Peter Roth said.
(At right, Bruce Rosenblum, Bob Broder, Lorre, Roth, and Barry Meyer.)
After initially vowing “to skip the mean stuff,” Lorre reversed course after loud pleas from his side of the room. At one point, he self-deprecatingly referred to himself as a “shit magnet,” thanking former colleagues like Roseanne Barr, Brett Butler and Charlie Sheen with whom he’s clashed.
Alpha-executive Eisner clashed with his own presenter, Garry Marshall, correcting him on details of the “Happy Days” origin story. (In the process, he revealed the Fonz’s original name would have been “Mash," tied to Marshall’s birth name, were it not for the pre-existing hit show.)
“Eisner is one executive I could always look up to, because he’s tall,” Marshall said. “Most executives are short.”
Kruetzenberg (Don Francisco) shared his own long track record: “18,000 broadcast hours without missing one single Saturday.”
Other executives and creative talent in the room included Bruce Rosenblum, Barry Meyer, Gail Berman, network reality executive producers Matt Kunitz, Clay Newbill, and Phil Gurin, Univision president Cesar Conde, publicist Juliana Bunim (accepting on behalf of her late mother Mary-Ellis), and former Academy president John Shaffner.
Lorre’s supporting talent stable included Holland Taylor, Jim Parsons, Melissa Rauch, Cleo King, and “Dharma and Greg’s” Thomas Gibson.
Photos by PictureGroup.