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THE TV COLUMN

Cosby to get American Comedy Award tonight

By Michael Storey

This article was published May 8, 2014 at 2:28 a.m.

With the grim tornado-related events of the last 12 days, Arkansans could use a good laugh.

Look no further than the American Comedy Awards airing at 8 p.m. today on NBC. It's guaranteed to bring a smile or two.

The two-hour telecast will acknowledge the work of stand-up comedians, as well as comedic actors who specialize in movies and those who are seen by millions on TV every week. The honorees were decided by fan voting.

One of the highlights will be Bill Cosby, who will receive the Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence. The award is presented to an individual who, over the course of his lifetime, "has made an extraordinary contribution to comedy and whose impact and innovations have changed the landscape and inspired future generations of entertainers."

That description certainly fits Cosby.

Cosby's 1963 debut album, Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow ... Right!, was the first comedy album I ever bought with the money I earned throwing the newspaper.

Granted, my comedy album phase was short-lived. It only included the Smothers Brothers' Curb Your Tongue, Knave! and Allan Sherman's My Son, the Nut ("Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh").

But I can still quote lines from my first experience with Cosby:

"Vhoooba, Vhoooba, Vhoooba, Vhoooba ... "

"Noah!"

"Vhoooba, Vhoooba, Vhoooba, Vhoooba ..."

"Noah!"

"Who is that?"

"It's the Lord, Noah."

(comedic pause) "Right!"

It still makes me laugh and so does the 76-year-old comedian.

"Bill Cosby is an iconic figure at the forefront of the American comedy landscape," says NBC executive Paul Telegdy. "His work in television, film, stand-up comedy and literature has shaped the national sense of humor and has had an enduring impact on comedians and fans of all ages."

With humor that transcended age, gender and cultural barriers, Cosby was also a ground-breaking figure in the 1960s.

Cosby broke television's racial barrier with NBC's 1965 drama I Spy, becoming the first black lead actor to co-star (with Robert Culp) on a television drama. Cosby, who had never acted before, won three consecutive Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his role as Alexander Scott.

But for many, their fondest memories of Cosby come from The Cosby Show, which ran on NBC from 1984-92. The sitcom, with Cosby as family patriarch Dr. Cliff Huxtable, is one of the most beloved of all time. It was TV's No. 1 show between 1985 and 1989, with weekly viewership topping out at an astonishing 30.5 million.

Chris Rock will present the Carson Award to Cosby. Other presenters on the special are Scott Aukerman, Lake Bell, Mike Birbiglia, Hannibal Buress, Andy Daly, Billy Eichner, Bill Hader, John Hodgman, Johnny Knoxville, Leslie Mann, Stephen Merchant, Adam Pally, Aubrey Plaza, Timothy Simons, JB Smoove, Patrick Stewart and Matt Walsh.

Stand-up comedian and actor Craig Robinson (Darryl Philbin on The Office) and The Nasty Delicious will perform as the house band.

Season finale. Season 4 of Blue Bloods wraps up at 9 p.m. Friday on CBS. Expect a big cliffhanger involving Danny (Donnie Wahlberg). The network has already renewed the series for the fall.

More musicals. Did you enjoy Carrie Underwood's live performance on The Sound of Music in December? It was a critical bust, but millions loved it. It was so popular that NBC is working on a live production of Peter Pan for December.

Not to be left out, Fox has announced it will produce a live version of Grease, the 1978 film that starred John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. No word from the network on who will be in the "young ensemble cast" or a target date.

Judy, Judy, Judy. CBS is planning an hour special May 20 that will showcase feisty 71-year-old TV judge Judith Sheindlin. The special will document Judge Judy's transition from a New York Family Court judge to the star of her top-rated courtroom show.

No doubt. In case you missed last week's memo, Gwen Stefani will be a judge on The Voice for Season 7. She'll sit alongside Adam Levine, Blake Shelton and newcomer Pharrell Williams.

Meanwhile, former judge Christina Aguilera will return for Season 8. Former judge CeeLo Green says he's finished with the show.

Hulu expands. The online streaming service now claims to have 6 million Hulu Plus subscribers and plans to expand its original programming in the coming year.

The Hotwives of Orlando will be a Real Housewives parody premiering in July, and The Next Step, a reality-style teen drama about dancers at an exclusive studio is due May 28.

All five original series that launched last year will be returning. They are Moone Boy, East Los High, Quick Draw, The Awesomes and Deadbeat.

The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Email:

mstorey@arkansasonline.com

Weekend on 05/08/2014

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