SOURCE: Playboy FoundationNEW YORK, May 19 -- The Playboy Foundation will recognize winners of the 25th Anniversary Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards at a Monday, May 24 dinner at New York's PIER SIXTY at Chelsea Piers. Proceeds from the event will benefit The Creative Coalition, the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan social and political advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment industry. The host committee for the evening includes James Caan, Chevy Chase, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Marcia Gay Harden, Dustin Hoffman, Matthew Modine and Steven Tyler.
The Creative Coalition Joins the Playboy Foundation
in Presenting the 25th Anniversary
Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards
Established in 1979 by Playboy Enterprises, Inc.'s now-Chairman and CEO Christie Hefner, the awards program honors individuals who have made significant contributions to protect and enhance First Amendment rights of Americans. Since its inception, more than 100 individuals including high school students, lawyers, journalists and educators have been honored with a Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award. The awards have traditionally been given in the areas of print and broadcast journalism, education, book publishing, arts and entertainment, government and law.
"I am delighted to add 10 more names to the impressive roster of Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award winners," said Hefner. "A principal guarantee of freedom is the First Amendment. Honoring the men and women who are on the front lines protecting that freedom is more important than ever."
Each 25th Anniversary Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award category winner will receive $5000, as well as a specially designed plaque describing their achievement in defending the First Amendment. The 2004 winners are:
Winners were selected by an independent panel of judges, including Margaret Carlson, CNN's The Capital Gang and columnist, Time magazine; Ann Richards, former governor of Texas, and senior advisor, Public Strategies, Inc., and John Seigenthaler, founder of Vanderbilt University's First Amendment Center and 2000 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award winner.
- Bill Maher (Arts & Entertainment), host of HBO's Real Time for speaking out at a time when Americans were being encouraged to abandon the Bill of Rights in exchange for the false comfort of "national security";
- Molly Ivins (Lifetime Achievement), author and syndicated columnist for nearly 25 years for keeping the First Amendment alive through her unflagging dedication, energy and humor while informing the public of erosions to freedom;
- David D. Cole, Esq. (Book Publishing), constitutional law scholar and professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center for his book Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism (New Press, 2003), a masterful and compelling book about the discriminatory and abusive treatment of non-citizens in the wake of 9/11 and the PATRIOT Act;
- Ronald K. L. Collins, Esq. and David Michael Skover (Book Publishing), co-authors of The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Fall and Rise of an American Icon (Sourcebooks Mediafusion, 2002), which laid the groundwork for the posthumous pardon of Lenny Bruce's obscenity conviction in New York City;
- Trina Magi and Linda Ramsdell (Education), for organizing a grassroots campaign to eliminate Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, which undermines Americans' right to read and access information without governmental intrusion or interference;
- Steven Aftergood (Government), senior research analyst and editor of Secrecy News, a newsletter of the Federation of American Scientists which keeps Americans apprised of the inner workings of government secrecy and promotes reform of its secret processes;
- Nate Blakeslee (Law), reporter for the Texas Observer for chronicling prosecutorial misconduct in Tulia, Texas, forcing the issue of racial and economic disparity in drug sentencing into the national spotlight, and educating the public about much needed judicial reforms; and,
- Talia Buford (Print Journalism), editor-in-chief of Hampton University's Hampton Script for serving as an inspiration to student journalists everywhere when she won the promise of an uncensored student newspaper.
Past winners have included Penn & Teller, comedians and magicians who have threaded their work with serious messages to educate nontraditional and often unsuspecting audiences about the value of the First Amendment's protection; Michael Moore, for using his cable television show, The Awful Truth (Bravo), to educate the public about issues critical to preserving First Amendment rights; Nicholas Becker, for challenging the constitutionality of a student-led prayer during his high school graduation ceremony; Mary Dana and Nancy Zennie, co-founders of "Muggles for Harry Potter" who successfully rallied the public to oppose the ban on Harry Potter books in the public schools of Zeeland, Michigan; Dr. Frederic Whitehurst, former supervisory agent and forensic chemist for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who blew the whistle on fraud and scientific misconduct with the FBI crime lab; and Kelli Peterson, who formed the Gay-Straight Alliance, defended its right to convene on the campus of Salt Lake City's East High School and inspired similar programs in 25 states.
For ticket information on this year's award ceremony, please contact The Creative Coalition at 212-614-2818.
About the Playboy Foundation
The Playboy Foundation supports local and national nonprofit organizations that protect the rights of the individual in a free society. Since its inception in 1965, the Foundation has awarded nearly $16 million in grants and in-kind contributions to organizations concerned with First Amendment freedoms, civil liberties and social justice.
About The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the leading nonprofit, nonpartisan social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating its members on issues of public importance, primarily public education, the First Amendment, arts advocacy, and runaway production. Headquartered in New York City, The Creative Coalition also has offices in Washington, DC, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The Creative Coalition does not endorse or raise funds for political parties or candidates.