The Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors is thrilled to announce the final honorees for the 2021 Caucus Awards – Academy Award®, Golden Globe, and Emmy winner Reese Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine’s President of Film and Television Lauren Neustadter (Little Fires Everywhere) will receive the Producers of the Year Award.
The Caucus will also welcome a special guest appearance by Caucus Co-founder Norman Lear. In addition, Producer Gail Katz, Professor of Cinematic Arts at USC, the Mary Pickford Endowed Chair, and the Faculty Chair of the School of Cinematic Arts will receive the Educator of the Year Award. Donna Langley, Chairman, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group will be the presenter for Marsai Martin.
Hosted by actor James Pickens Jr. (Grey’s Anatomy) in a virtual ceremony on Thursday, March 4, 2021, they will join previously announced honorees: Academy Award®-winning writer, producer, and director Aaron Sorkin will be presented with the Writers Award by Caucus Co-Chair Robert Papazian; Danish director Susanne Bier (The Undoing) will receive the Directors Award, presented by Academy Award®, Golden Globe, SAG and Emmy winner Nicole Kidman; Black-ish actress and executive producer/star of Little, Marsai Martin will be presented with the Rising Star Award by Donna Langley, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group; Vin Di Bona, Chairman, Vin Di Bona Productions will be presented with the prestigious Caucus Legend Award presented by America’s Funniest Home Videos host Alfonso Ribeiro.
Community leaders and philanthropists Jeanne and Tom Townsend will be awarded with the Caucus’ Humanitarian Award presented by Caucus Co-Chair James Hirsch. Jeanne Townsend will accept for herself and posthumously for her husband, Tom. The Townsends founded the St. Louis- based non-profit Pianos For People which was created to inspire successful futures by providing free access to the transformational power of the piano. Jeanne was determined to carry on Tom’s legacy upon his passing last year. By breaking down these financial barriers for families and individuals with limited resources, Pianos for People is a gateway to empowerment, community, and self-esteem. One such student discovered by Pianos for People is a young prodigy, Royce Martin who was recently tapped to contribute to the score for the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” reunion show. He will perform for the program.
The Caucus Foundation, spearheaded by its President Sharon Arnett, was created to give production grants to worthy students to promote diversity and presented scholarships to six students in December 2020. The grant recipients are Myra Aquino of University of California, Los Angeles; Kathryn Boyd-Batstone of University of Southern California; Christine Cho of Chapman University; Tessa Germaine, of Chapman University, Damon Laguna of University of Southern California; and Mel Orpen of University of Southern California.
The success of the Annual Awards Dinner has enabled The Caucus to award nearly $2 million to date in finishing funds and in-kind services to students at accredited colleges and universities across the country for completion of their thesis projects. The Foundation’s commitment to help young talent has never been more important than it is right now as they work towards discovering and mentoring the next big talent.
The Caucus Awards Committee includes Caucus Co-Chairs Robert Papazian and James Hirsch, Caucus Chair Emeritus Chuck Fries, President of the Caucus Foundation Sharon Arnett, Scott Mauro, Producer; Writer Bruce Vilanch, Judy Levy (LPA Events – Levy, Pazanti & Assoc.), Allison Jackson (the Allison Jackson Company), Carol Marshall (Carol Marshall Public Relations), Bridget Fornaro (Carol Marshall) and Deborah Leoni, Caucus Executive Director.
ABOUT THE CAUCUS FOR PRODUCERS, WRITERS & DIRECTORS:
The Caucus is leading the evolution of television by providing a creative forum for Producers, Writers and Directors to explore the issues of the ever-changing landscape of content and exhibition. The Caucus is proud of its rich history and esteemed membership of television innovators. For over 40 years The Caucus has provided an opportunity for the best and the brightest talent to network and voice the ‘creative conscience’ of the Television Industry. Today, we continue to stand for better and meaningful content across all platforms. As Producers, Writers and Directors we support a working environment that fosters, through our various programs, the best content that we can create for our audiences.
ABOUT THE CAUCUS FOUNDATION:
The Caucus Foundation is the non-profit work of The Caucus, dedicated to scholarship support, financial grants and mentoring of a diverse group of talented students, to help them build their futures in all forms of content creation. Established in 2000 The Foundation provides completion grants to student thesis productions from accredited universities and colleges. To date The Caucus Foundation Grant Program has given almost $2 million dollars in cash and in-kind awards. The Foundation receives support from The Annenberg Foundation, Angell Foundation, Panavision and illuminate Hollywood.
Current members of The Caucus include: JJ Abrams, Kevin Bright, James Burrows, Vin Di Bona, Dennis Doty, Chuck Fries, Tom Hanks, Tanya Hart, Charles Floyd Johnson, James Hirsch, Bob Papazian, Norman Powell, Herman Rush and other leading producers, writers and directors.