The summer of 1969, 40 years ago, the crew of Apollo 11 landed on the moon. If you were around then, I’ll bet you remember exactly where you were when you first saw the unbelievable images on TV. It was a live transmission from the lunar surface that was shared with more than 600 million people worldwide. It made history, and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences just got around to honoring the NASA engineers who made that broadcast possible. Finally!
The nod to NASA made the Emmy® Engineering Awards last weekend very special. Apollo 11’s celebrated moon-walking astronaut Buzz Aldrin accepted the prestigious Philo T. Farnsworth Award on behalf of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Alongside Buzz was Dick Nafzgar (a 28-year-old NASA engineer in 1969), who was largely responsible for ensuring those first images from the moon made it back to earth. “I was told, ‘They’re coming out early, it better work.’ It did. We saw history live as Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong walked on the moon,” Dick said with pride. That’s probably why he’s still on the job with NASA.
Buzz is still a champion of space exploration. After regaling the crowd that packed the ballroom at the Hollywood & Highland Renaissance Hotel with some great stories and observations, Buzz spoke passionately about his hope for the future. “Human beings from the planet earth settling on another planet in the solar system. That planet is Mars, and we can do it. That is American leadership.”
It was a cute idea to have June Lockhart, who starred in the classic series “Lost In Space,” present the Emmys to Buzz and Dick. June said, “Our show was progressive for its time. NASA astronauts in the early ’60s were male military pilots. On our series, I was not only a mother of three, I was an astronaut and a doctor, a trained biochemist. As NASA was pushing the frontiers of reality, we were giving audiences a glimpse of what could be. It was an exciting time.”
Having fun as the emcee of the awards was Christopher Knight. The former “Brady Bunch” kid, who now hosts the “Trivial Pursuit” syndicated game show, was profuse with his praise for the achievements of the engineers being honored, calling them “his heroes.” The Jim Henson Company got an Emmy for its Henson Digital Puppetry Studio, which is revolutionary in animation and has kept lots of jobs in town. Fujinon, Litepanels, Grip Trix and Dolby Laboratories were also honored.
The 61st annual Primetime Engineering Emmys went to “the best and brightest, honoring the latest innovations and advancements, and also looking back at pioneering achievements,” according to the Academy’s Chairman, John Shaffner. Stephen Jones was Chair, and Philip Angerhofer Vice-Chair of this year’s awards committee. When they joined all of the honorees for a group photo, and I saw all the wonderful minds that have made television so remarkable and created new jobs in the broadcast industry, I couldn’t help myself. “Geeks rule!” I said as I saluted them. And one sweet fellow responded, “We certainly do tonight.”
“Glee” Event and Burroughs Alumni Choir Show Celebration
Fans of the Fox TV show “Glee” will get a chance to catch a special advance screening of the season premiere episode on Friday, August 28 at 9:30 a.m., at comfy Mann’s Chinese 6 at the Hollywood & Highland. Seats are on a first come, first served basis, so get there early. And later, at 3 p.m. the cast of “Glee” will be appearing at the trendy Hot Topic at the complex.
And all those “Glee” fans who love the idea of “finding your voice” in a choral group will have another reason to celebrate with the “Alumni Pop Show II — Legacy.” The John Burroughs High School show on Saturday, August 29th at 7 p.m., is a one-night only performance by the JBHS Choir’s alumni. It’s a group that spans three decades, coming together for sort-of a “Mr. Holland’s Opus” feel-good event. It will feature solo performances, acapella groups, duets, the Alumni Dance Ensemble, and full choirs offering the most soul-stirring gospel, opera and pop tunes. Treat yourself to this joyous experience!