Two years ago, when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced their intention to create a new honorary award that they’d bestow on individuals who made considerable contributions to television, most were ecstatic – finally those who made an impact on the industry by their work on the small screen would be recognized on one of Hollywood’s biggest nights. The decision to name it after comedy pioneer Carol Burnett, who also received the inaugural honour, was even more thrilling. Today, the HFPA announced another comedic icon would be receiving the honour – sitcom revolutionary, beloved stand-up comedian and one of the most recognizable voices in modern daytime talk show history: Ellen Degeneres.
“The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is delighted to honor Ellen DeGeneres with the Carol Burnett Award. From her sitcoms to stand-up, to becoming a household staple on daytime television, she is a pioneer who has captivated audiences for nearly 25 years with her undeniable charm and wit. In addition to her television success, she’s an advocate and philanthropist, lending her voice to those who don’t have one and spreading kindness and joy through the power of her platform. We look forward to celebrating her achievements at this year’s ceremony.”Lorenzo Soria, President of the HFPA
The Carol Burnett Award is one in many honorary awards Degeneres has received over the course of the past few years, where she has started to take on the title of one of the most beloved daytime personalities through her long-running talk show that has been seen as a staple of many households since its inception nearly two decades ago. Amongst the multiple honours she has received are a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Carol Burnett Award will be given to her in recognition of her many contributions to television over the course of her four-decade career, which was kickstarted with an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, where she become of the rare comedians invited over to talk with Carson after her set, an incredibly rare honor, but one that indicated that Degeneres showed immediate promise.
While many expected the HFPA to award someone who had a longer tenure, and perhaps a more substantial impact on the earlier days of television (the most predicted potential honorees included Dick van Dyke, Norman Lear and Betty White, long-considered the runaway favourite), Degeneres’ work in the industry should not be understated. Over the course of her career, she came to be known as one of the most successful female stand-up comedians, and her sitcom Ellen was one of the very first to tackle serious LGBT issues, which resulted in Degeneres, who used her show as a platform to speak about her own personal journey as a queer woman, receiving considerable disdain from communities who were not prepared for these issues to become the subject of their primetime viewing. Running from 1994 to 1998, the show garnered record ratings with DeGeneres receiving multiple Golden Globe and Primetime Emmy nominations. In 1997, DeGeneres was the recipient of the coveted Peabody Award and earned a Primetime Emmy Award for writing the critically acclaimed Puppy Episode where her character came out as a gay woman to a record 46 million viewers. In 2003, The Ellen Degeneres Show premiered, and has become one of the most beloved daytime talk shows airing today, having recently surpassed 3000 episodes as part of its seventeenth season. She recently returned to stand-up comedy with the well-received Relatable on Netflix.
DeGeneres’ production company, A Very Good Production (AVGP), is currently producing a wide range of television including NBC’s fan-favorite game show, Ellen’s Game of Games, a new NBC special event series, Ellen’s Greatest Night of Giveaways, NBC’s hit series Little Big Shots, Green Eggs and Ham for Netflix, Discovery Channel’s Wildlife Warriors, and many more. In September 2019, Ellen announced HBO Max, the upcoming direct-to-consumer offering from WarnerMedia, ordered four original series including Ellen’s Home Design Challenge, First Dates Hotel, Little Ellen, as well as the docu-series Finding Einstein.
Degeneres will be given the Carol Burnett Award at the 77th Golden Globe Awards on January 6th, 2020. One of her fellow Pixar alums, Tom Hanks, will be receiving the film equivalent, the Cecil B. DeMille Award.