"Smash" producers get top award by gay media group

NEW YORK Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:49am EDT

Actress Dakota Fanning arrives at the 23rd annual Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards in New York March 24, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Actress Dakota Fanning arrives at the 23rd annual Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards in New York March 24, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Kelly

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The producers of the new TV musical drama series "Smash" were honored by gay and lesbian watchdog group GLAAD at a gala on Saturday that highlighted gay marriage and bullying.

Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, film and television producers known for such movies as the Oscar-winning "Chicago," and "Hairspray" were honored at New York's Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, Media Awards.

The awards, hosted by Cory Montieth and Naya Rivera from the hit TV musical show "Glee," recognize the best portrayals of gay community members in film, television, radio, music, newspapers and blogs.

GLAAD honored the efforts of Meron and Zadan on "Smash," the program about a Broadway show that features a healthy gay relationship, as well as several of the pair's previous efforts, including the television movie "Serving in Silence."

In accepting the top award named after gay activist Vito Russo, the producers noted they had received death threats for their controversial 2003 miniseries, "The Reagans," which argued that former U.S. President Ronald Reagan failed to recognize the AIDS crisis.

Zadan said being gay was "part of who I am, so it impacts the work that we do," while Meron said the pair had spent years trying to "fight, persuade and manipulate" the entertainment industry to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters and stories.

Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein presented openly gay high school student Katy Butler a special award in recognition of her anti-bullying efforts, while outstanding TV segment was awarded to "ABC World News with Diane Sawyer" for "Battle Against Bullying."

The 2011 indie film, "Pariah," about a black teenager living in Brooklyn, New York, who embraces her identity as a lesbian, won outstanding film in limited release, and HBO's "Cinema Verite" took home the best TV movie or miniseries award.

TV's "Dancing With The Stars" won outstanding reality TV program for featuring contestant Chaz Bono, the transgender child of singers Cher and Sonny Bono, who completed a female-to-male sex change in 2010.

Pop Star Lady Gaga, who did not attend the awards, won outstanding music artist for her album "Born This Way." Best talk-show episode went to Oprah Winfrey's program for the episode "Coming Out on the Oprah Show: 25 Years of Unforgettable Guests."

Playwright Tony Kushner won the theater award for his play "The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures."

Among other media winners were CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360", Metro Weekly, The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Advocate.

GLAAD, which promotes positive images of LGBT people in the media, will present additional media awards in Los Angeles on April 21 and San Francisco on June 2.

(Reporting By Christine Kearney and Chris Michaud; Editing by Peter Cooney)