Kelley's 'Ally' & 'Practice' Win Peabody Pair

By Josef Adalian

NEW YORK (Variety) - Producer David E. Kelley's ``Ally McBeal'' and ``The Practice'' have struck again, picking up a pair of prestigious Peabody Awards.

Fox's ``Ally'' and ABC's ``The Practice,'' both from David E. Kelley Prods., were among 33 programs or individuals named Wednesday as winners of the 1998 George Foster Peabody Awards for excellence in broadcast or cable television.

The one-two Peabody punch for Kelley follows his January triumph at the Golden Globes, where ``Ally'' and ``The Practice'' won best comedy and drama, respectively. The two shows were also both honored with multiple Emmy nominations last year, with ``The Practice'' winning best drama and ``Ally'' snagging a nod for best comedy.

Peabody Award winners are selected by a 15-person industry panel of judges under the auspices of the University of Georgia's Henry W. Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communications. The awards will be presented at a May 17 ceremony at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

Other winning programs, selected from nearly 1,300 entries, included an episode of ABC's ``NYPD Blue,'' the series finale of HBO's ``The Larry Sanders Show'' and the Comedy Central animated skein ``Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist.''

Peabody judges praised ``Ally'' for ``its inventive and often-skewed depictions of sex and sexuality, power and workplace relationships,'' and cited ``The Practice'' as a program that has brought ``new vitality, freshness and relevance'' to the courtroom drama genre.

Hallmark Entertainment chairman and producer Robert Halmi Sr. (''Merlin,'' ``Gulliver's Travels Di) was one of four individuals singled out for personal Peabody awards, with judges praising Halmi ``for his uncompromising vision, and for his commitment to excellence in the presentation of classic and contemporary drama on commercial television.''

Linda Ellerbee (''Nick News Di), producer Jac Venza ( DiGreat Performances Di) and foreign correspondent Christiane Amanpour were also named individual Peabody winners, with Amanpour earning her second award.

Two network newsmagazines were honored by the Peabody judges: ``Dateline NBC'' and CBS' now-canceled ``Public Eye With Bryant Gumbel.'' ``Dateline,'' which had never won a Peabody, was cited for a Claudia Pryor-produced report from Maria Shriver on welfare reform, while ``Public Eye'' earned notice for the work of correspondent Carol Marin and producer Don Moseley on a story about a burn victim.

Other national news and info winners included CNN's 24-part series ``The Cold War,'' an edition of ``Frontline'' on campaign financing featuring reporting by Bill Moyers and HBO's series of sports documentaries.

Boston public broadcaster WGBH collected a total of six Peabody awards, including two for ``The American Experience'' and one for a ``Masterpiece Theater'' production of ``King Lear.'' National Public Radio won three awards.

HBO and Showtime won Peabody honors for original pictures. The former was cited for ``Shot Through the Heart,'' from director David Attwood; Showtime Networks, Pacific Motion Pictures and Jodie Foster's Egg Pictures were cited for their production of ``The Baby Dance.''