HOLLYWOOD, JULY 11 -- A CBS television movie about school desegregation in Boston and episodes of two popular ABC series, "thirtysomething" and "The Wonder Years," took cash awards today as the 16th annual Humanitas Prizes were bestowed for "humanizing achievement" in television writing.
"Common Ground, Part II," which aired last March on CBS, won Edward Hume $25,000 for his teleplay depicting the tension surrounding the mandated desegregation of Boston's public schools in the 1970s.
The Humanitas judges, who last year for the first time found no TV movie worth honoring, selected Hume in the 90-minute-or-more category.
The awards were presented during a luncheon in Los Angeles. In all, $70,000 was handed out by the Los Angeles-based Human Family Educational and Cultural Institute, which each year recognizes writers who communicate values that enrich the TV-viewing public.
In the 60-minute category, which carried a $15,000 prize, the Humanitas went to Joseph Dougherty for his "thirtysomething" script titled "The Other Shoe." His story -- about how the time the character Nancy spends with another cancer survivor threatens the distance between her and her family -- was termed "a chilling dramatization of the specter of death and the moral stamina needed to face it down ... a ringing declaration that even those afflicted with cancer can and must sensitize themselves to the needs of other people."
"The Wonder Years," which produced last year's 30-minute category winner, turned up another winning script. Todd W. Langen received $10,000 for his "Square Dance" story, which found young Kevin learning too late that in bowing to peer pressure, he passed up a friend who could have enriched his life.
An "ABC Afterschool Special" that dealt with "the courage it takes to be ecologically sensitive ... and faithful to oneself at the price of alienation" won in the non-prime-time children's live action category. Writer Bruce Harmon received $10,000 for that script, "A Town's Revenge."
The $10,000 Humanitas Prize for non-prime-time children's animated program went to Cliff Ruby and Elana Lesser for their "Badge of Courage" episode of CBS's "Dink the Little Dinosaur."
A non-cash documentary award was given to Carol L. Fleisher for "See Dick & Jane Lie, Cheat & Steal: Teaching Morality to Kids," part of the syndicated series "Raising Good Kids in Bad Times."
At today's luncheon, Father Ellwood Kieser, president of the Human Family Institute, announced that a new $25,000 prize will be awarded next year for the prime-time cable-PBS program that best communicates human values.