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'Orange Is the New Black,' 'Scandal' Among Peabody Recipients

By Trudy Ring

LGBT-inclusive TV and film projects Orange Is the New Black, Scandal, and How to Survive a Plague are among the winners of the prestigious George Foster Peabody Awards for 2013, announced today.

There are a record 46 recipients of the awards, given annually by the University of Georgia to recognize excellence in electronic media. They will be formally presented on May 19 at a luncheon ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City, emceed by Ira Glass, host and producer of the public radio program This American Life, itself a multiple Peabody winner.

Orange Is the New Black, Netflix’s women-in-prison dramedy, features several LGBT characters, and its cast includes lesbian performer Lea DeLaria and transgender actress Laverne Cox. The Peabody website lauds it by saying, “Orange Is the New Black turns a notorious drive-in genre — women behind bars — into a complex, riveting character study rich in insights about femininity, race, power, and the politics, inside and outside prison walls, of mass incarceration.”

ABC’s political drama Scandal, starring Kerry Washington as a “fixer” who cleans up scandals in the nation’s capital, is “an exaggerated, outrageous, fun-house reflection of the real-life political shenanigans we’ve come to loathe and jeer,” says the Peabody site. Its has Jeff Perry as White House chief of staff Cyrus Beene, who is married to journalist James Novak, played by out actor Dan Bucatinsky. Bucatinsky’s character was killed off in a recent episode.

The documentary How to Survive a Plague, directed by David France, chronicles the activism of ACT UP, Treatment Action Group, and others in the early years of the AIDS crisis. It was shown on PBS’s Independent Lens series and also had a theatrical release, the latter resulting in an Oscar nomination.

Gay luminaries of Broadway feature in a couple of Peabody winners. HBO’s Six by Sondheim is a documentary on the esteemed composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim, with interviews, archival footage, and new interpretations of six of his most famous songs. Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy, from PBS’s Great Performances, includes the work of Sondheim and other gay or bisexual talents, such as Leonard Bernstein, Jerry Herman, Arthur Laurents, and Marc Shaiman.

Find a full list of the winners here.

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