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Thalo's Critics' Choice Inspiration Awards Debuts A 'Smash'

BEVERLY HILLS, CA -- A fictional character succinctly summed up the reason for creating the thalo's Critics’ Choice Inspiration Award to debut during the 2012 Critics’ Choice Television Awards show, honoring excellence in broadcast television, on June 18 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.

“Art is a sick compulsion. Art is an ego gone haywire,” moans the character Tom Levitt (Christian Borle) during a clip from the hit NBC show Smash played during the ceremony’s introduction of the Inspiration Award. “Art is beautiful,” retorts the character Sam Strickland (Leslie Odom Jr.) with elegant simplicity.

Indeed, celebrating art and the beauty it brings the world in all its forms is the reason thalo exists, and the reason that thalo partnered with the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) to make the Inspiration Award part of the Critics Choice event.

The honor will be given annually to the broadcast show that best promotes the fine arts in its storylines and in its execution. This year, the inaugural presentation went to Smash for the dramatically compelling and visually stunning way the show chronicles the creation of a fictional Broadway show. The aforementioned clip was used to sum up the show’s philosophy about the arts, which earned it the award because that philosophy corresponds so well with thalo’s mission to promote the arts and recognize creative people who inspire others through their art. The award was presented by award-winning actor John Noble of the Fox show Fringe to NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke on behalf of the entire cast, crew, and team behind Smash (as seen in Photo 1).

In his presentation, Noble pointed out the show’s creative group includes several award-winning and nominated crafts’ people in the areas of production design, set design, art direction, cinematography, and many other disciplines. He declared it was a worthy inaugural recipient of the award as “one of the most artistically stunning and fun programs on the air today.”

The award goes to a TV show that, at its core, is all about the arts. Indeed, reflecting on the award, Salke emphasizes that “one of our goals with Smash has been to dramatically depict the struggles and triumphs that people in the arts face every day. The theater world provides fertile material for this, and another plus is that this arena isn’t really portrayed (elsewhere) on TV right now. So it’s a fresh area to explore and have audiences discover. We think it’s both inspiring and entertaining to look behind the curtain at the interesting and dramatic lives of these wildly creative artists. If we can, in some small way, educate the public and encourage the next generation of artists to live their dreams, that’s significant.”

Salke is also grateful that the award recognizes NBC’s efforts to highlight the difficulties that public schools are having financing art programs in today’s challenging economy. That is why the network launched its ‘Smash: Make a Musical’ program in conjunction with the iTheatrics Theater Project in conjunction with the TV show. Thalo, as part of the Inspiration Award, has therefore made a donation to the ‘Smash: Make a Musical’ program.

“The award honors our philanthropic outreach to schools through the Smash: Make a Musical program, and that’s very rewarding to everyone involved in Smash,” Salke adds. “Through this effort, we are building programs in under-served schools that will live on indefinitely and will make a difference.” 

The BTJA and thalo were both extremely pleased with the award’s debut, and are excited about its future role in helping the BTJA and thalo pay homage to the artistic craftsmanship behind shows like Smash.

“It’s always great for an awards’ show to have a special award that goes right to the heart of the event,” says Joey Berlin, Executive Producer of the Critics’ Choice Television Awards. “The thalo’s Critics’ Choice Inspiration Award does exactly that for our awards’ program. It’s easy with shows like this to only focus on the celebrity and star power that drives much of today’s entertainment. But this award focuses on the art and the passion that underlies everything that our honorees are trying to do with their work.”

Shortly after the show, Steven Roth, thalo’s Executive Publisher, agreed wholeheartedly with that sentiment. Roth lauded NBC and iTheatrics for working to assist arts’ funding in public schools, and added that he hopes the Inspiration Award “will help remind all of us that creative people have the ability to inspire us through their art, which is why these programs must continue and be funded.”

“Working with the Broadcast Critics Journalists Association and partnering to present this award helps us, on a large stage, honor and promote the arts and the creative possibilities for those with artistic aspirations,” Roth added. “Color, paint, costumes, music, dance, light, and much more are central to making Smash and most other dramatic shows a success. We want people to understand that hard working, well trained, and truly dedicated artists are responsible for that kind of success. So we are very proud to be part of this.”

For a full list of winners from the 2012 Critics Choice Broadcast Awards and to see video from the event, go to the BCJA web site at Wiinners, nominees, presenters and guests seen in Photos 2 - 21.

JennTo learn more about iTheatrics, check out

And to find out about the Smash Make a Musical project, go to

All photos courtesy of Michael Bezjian

Photo 1: John Noble and Jennifer Salke, Photo 2: Zooey Deschanel, Photo 3: Justin Long, Photo 4: Damon Wayans, Jr., Photo 5: Ashley Rickards, Photo 6: Stana Katic, Photo 7: Sharon Gless, Photo 8: Donald Faison, Photo 9: Katey Sagal, Photo 10: Cloris Leachman, Photo 11: Sarah Paulson, Photo 12: Don Cheadle, Photo 13: Aisha Tyler, Photo 14: Matt Lanter, Photo 15: Judd Apatow, Photo 18: Gillian Anderson and Robert Patrick, Photo 19: Julie Bowen and Nolan Gould