The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the group behind the annual Emmy awards, paid tribute to what it called "television with a conscience" at its third-annual Television Academy Honors.
"I sort of call it, 'The night where we see that television chooses its power to do good vs. evil,'" said event host Dana Delany ("Desperate Housewives"). "We've seen a lot of crap on TV and this (event honors) shows that really enlighten the world," she continued.
Among honorees at the Wednesday night ceremony: individual episodes of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "Private Practice" and "Glee." Former U.S. vice president Al Gore accepted a statuette for his Current TV network's "Vanguard" series, which documented effects of prescription-drug abuse.
"The fact that this award has been established by the Academy speaks so well of the Academy," said Gore. "It really means so much to be here."
Gore also acknowledge both the journalistic and political work of California first lady Maria Shriver, who served as executive producer of the Academy-honored documentary "Grandpa, Do you Know Who I Am? with Maria Shriver," which followed grandchildren forced to cope with a grandparent's Alzheimer's.
Shriver's father, R. "Sargent" Shriver, has long battled the disease. "I'm honored that I had that opportunity (to make the film)," said Shriver. "I originally did it out of selfish reasons, because I wanted to understand what was happening to my own father."
Actress Holly Robinson Peete presented to Monica Lange, the producer-director of the documentary "Unlocking Autism." Robinson Peete's son Rodney Jr. is autistic. "You know, autism has been a journey for our family, and it was a big decision to talk about our son's journey publicly," Robinson Peete said. "What I like about 'Unlocking Autism' is that it sort of has a respectful way, from a scientific point of view, of talking to parents."
Executive producer Shonda Rhimes was honored for a "Private Practice" episode spinning around physician-assisted suicide. While heavy material, Rhimes said she got no resistance from network ABC. "It's not that hard because as long as you can figure out a way to entertain people while you're educating, it can't be a problem."