The 62nd Annual Peabody Awards honored tough investigating reporting and challenging TV drama, with HBO and Thirteen/WNET New York taking three awards each.
HBO was honored for the life-and-death drama "Six Feet Under," the Emmy-winning mini-series "The Gathering Storm" and the celebration of contemporary poetry "Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam."
Thirteen/WNET New York received Peabody Awards for three fine arts shows -- "Egg: The Arts Show"; "Beckett on Film," an installment of "Stage on Screen"; and "The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow," an examination of post-slavery racism in America.
In all, the Peabody Board rewarded 31 radio and TV programs for excellence -- including the CNN special "Terror on Tape," in which reporter Nic Robertson presented videotapes made by al-Qaida on how train terrorists.
The new NBC police drama "Boomtown" was honored for its new take on the police procedural genre, and the Fox drama "Boston Public" was singled out for an episode examining what happens when people use a highly charged racial epithet in a high school classroom.
ABC's "Nightline," CBS-TV and National Public Radio all won Peabodys for programs related to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack. "Nightline" was also honored for "Heart of Darkness," anchor Ted Koppel's weeklong examination of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
NPR was honored for "The Yiddish Radio Project," a program made up of recovered recordings of music and radio programs in Yiddish. The TNT original movie "Door to Door" was honored for its account of the life of Bill Porter, a successful door-to-door salesman despite his life-long battle with cerebral palsy.
The Peabodys will be presented in New York in May, in ceremonies to be hosted by ABC's Barbara Walters. For the first time, the Peabody Awards will be shown on nationwide TV, when the A&E cable network airs the ceremonies in June.
NEW NAME PROPOSED FOR MERGED UNIONS
Officials of the two leading performers' unions have come up with a name for the new entity that would be formed if members approve a merger.
Merger committees for the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists are recommending that the new organization be called the Alliance of International Media Artists. The new name reflects a growing acceptance among union leaders that traditional distinctions such as screen actor, or TV and radio artist, have lost their meaning in a media world increasingly dominated by conglomerates.
The proposed merger of SAG and AFTRA would result in the creation of an umbrella organization with three major divisions. There would still be a Screen Actors Guild affiliate for actors, AFTRA for broadcasters, and an American Federation of Recording Artists for recording artists.
The SAG and AFTRA national boards are scheduled to vote on the merger proposal on April 12-13. Rank and file members are expected to vote on the proposal in May and June.
FITTING RUTGER HAUER FOR FANGS
Lowe will play a writer who returns to his New England hometown and finds that vampires have taken over. It was made into a mini-series in 1979 starring David Soul as the journalist and James Mason as the head vampire.
JEFF DANIELS IN 'GOODBYE GIRL'?
There is also word in Hollywood that Jeff Daniels is close to a deal to co-star with Patricia Heaton in TNT's upcoming remake of "The Goodbye Girl" -- as an aspiring New York actor who shares an apartment with an unlucky-in-love woman. Richard Dreyfuss won the Best Actor Oscar and Marsha Mason was nominated for Best Actress for the 1977 original, which also earned a screenplay nomination for Neil Simon.
Simon is writing and executive producing the remake.
JOHN WAYNE'S SON, MICHAEL, DIES AT 68
Michael Wayne, the son of screen legend John Wayne, has died of heart failure. He was 68.
Hollywood publicist Warren Cowan said Wayne died Wednesday at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, Calif., following complications from the immune system disease lupus.
Wayne was a producer on several of his father's movies -- including "Brannigan" (1975), "Cahill U.S. Marshal" (1973), "Chisum" (1970), " The Green Berets" (1968) and "McClintock" (1963).
Wayne also served as chairman of the board of the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica. John Wayne died at 72 of lung cancer in 1979.