USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center Reveals Sentinel Awards Winners



In a sad bit of coincidence, the Hollywood, Health & Society at the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center honored its 2023 Sentinel Awards winners on Wednesday night, just hours after the passing of its namesake and inspiration, the legendary Norman Lear.

Emmy-winning comedian and writer Larry Wilmore hosted the event and introduced this year’s 11 winners, including writers behind the series “Mrs. Davis,” “Fleishman is in Trouble” and “Tiny Beautiful Things.” But before the awards were handed out, Wilmore took a moment to pay tribute to Lear. And remarks from Lear’s wife, Lyn, were shared with the audience.

“Well you got to say this about Norman – the man knew how to make an exit,” Wilmore joked. “He knew his audience. And wanted us to make sure we were all listening.

“A giant has left us and we’re going to do him proud,” he added. “This evening meant a lot to Norman because he believed television can reflect our best. That’s why the Sentinel Awards were created – to honor television’s best and brightest writing.” 

At the top of the 2023 Sentinel Awards, held at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills, Norman Lear Center founding director Marty Kaplan read the statement from Lyn Lear. “I would have been there tonight if not for the passing of our beloved Norman,” she said in the statement. “He was so proud of the work of The Lear Center and Hollywood Health and Society. And he would not have wanted all of us to mourn. He would want us to celebrate the important shows you are honoring tonight, and most of all… he would want us to laugh.”

Added Kaplan: “Norman’s shows moved our hearts and minds to embrace our common humanity and live up to what’s best in us. Doing that is why these winning writers are being honored.”

The Sentinel Award recognizes writers for their “meaningful and accurate portrayals onscreen that tackled timely and important topics including abortion, systemic racism, climate change, and mental health.”

“These writers and honorees this year have all made a commitment to telling stories that not only reach audiences, but make a significant impact far beyond the small screen,” said Hollywood, Health & Society program director Kate Folb. “It’s such an honor to bring these writers together after the strikes and celebrate their work.”

Speaking about Lear, Folb added: “They say never to meet your heroes because you might be disappointed. Not so when I met Norman. He was everything I imagined and so much more. I feel so blessed to have been a very small part of his massive universe.”

Presenters this year included Emmy-nominated actor and producer Kathryn Hahn, Emmy-winning producer/choreographer and actor Debbie Allen, Grammy-winning performer and actor Ben Harper, actor Adam Brody, comedian and actor Frankie Quiñones, and actors Logan Marmino, Jake McDorman, Michael McKean, Elizabeth Tulloch and Barrett Doss.

Here are the 2023 Sentinel Award Winners:

Depiction of Abortion: Julie Wong, “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC) – “When I Get to the Border”

Depiction of A.I.: Tara Hernandez and Damon Lindelof, “Mrs. Davis” (Peacock) – “The Final Intercut: So I’m Your Horse”

Depiction of Breast Cancer: Brent Fletcher and Todd Helbing, “Superman & Lois” (The CW) – multi-episode storyline (4 episodes)

Depiction of Disabilities: Matt Fleckenstein, Zach Anner and Gillian Grassie, “Best Foot Forward” (Apple TV+) – “Halloween”

Depiction of Climate Change: Scott Z. Burns, “Extrapolations” (Apple TV+) – “2046: Whale Fall”

Depiction of Diplomacy: Debora Cahn and Anna Haden, “The Diplomat” (Netflix) – “Some Lusty Tornado”

Depiction of Economic Disparities: Chris Estrada, Matt Ingebretson, Pat Bishop and Jake Weisman, “This Fool” (Hulu) – “Los Botes”

Depiction of End of Life: Liz Tigelaar, “Tiny Beautiful Things” (Hulu) – “The Nose”

Depiction of Maternal Health: Taffy Brodesser-Akner, “Fleishman is in Trouble” (FX/Hulu) – “Me-Time”

Depiction of Mental Health: Adam Kay, “This is Going to Hurt” (AMC+) — “Episode 6” BBC

Depiction of Systemic Racism: Zoanne Clack and Zaiver Sinnett, “Station 19” (ABC) – “We Build Then We Break”


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