Hurricane Katrina coverage, made-for-cable originals and, yes, South Park were named among the electronic media's best for 2005 by the selection committee for the 65th Annual Peabody Awards.
The presentation ceremony, to be held June 5 in New York, will be marked by firsts, such as the first win by Sci Fi Channel for Battlestar Galactica, called a "brilliantly reimagined revival of a so-so 1970s outer-space saga."
Also receiving first-time kudos are The Shield ("riveting, densely layered adult entertainment") on FX and The Staircase, an eight-part documentary on a North Carolina murder case that was created by French filmmaker Jean Xavier de Lestrade and cablecast on Sundance Channel.
The committee also said no other national 24-hour news service provided more essential broadcast and online coverage of Hurricane Katrina than Cable News Network. Local broadcasters WWL-TV in New Orleans and WLOX-TV in Biloxi, Miss., were also lauded for their breaking-news coverage, as was NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams for its post-Katrina coverage.
Home Box Office is a multiple winner for South African-produced film Yesterday,depicting the ravages of AIDS in that country by focusing on the plight of one woman; documentary Children of Beslan, which included interviews with the survivors of a terrorist attack and massacre at a Russian schoolhouse; and Classical Baby,which marries animation for children to classical music.
A movie on Showtime won a Peabody for the channel for the second year in a row, this time for Edge of America,illuminating two cultures with its tale of an African-American teacher-coach who took a job at an Indian reservation school in Utah.
BBC America won an award for quirky Viva Blackpool, a tale of greed and corruption interrupted by dance numbers set to pop tunes. Comedy Central's SouthParkwas honored as "TV's boldest, most politically incorrect satirical series" and "unmatched [in] topicality."
In all, programming from three continents and seven languages won awards this year. A total of 32 broadcast and cable programs were honored. They were selected by a 16-member panel of television critics, broadcast and cable executives and experts in culture and the arts.
The awards are presented by the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications. Jon Stewart, host of Comedy’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and a multiple Peabody winner himself, will host the awards show.