Hugo TV Awards to honor commercial giant MJZ, programming master Towers Productions April 12

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MJZ, the bicoastal spot house that’s won more awards than any other production company, will pick up still another?this one from the 43rd annual Hugo Television Awards.

The Hugo’s Commitment to Excellence Awards to MJZ and local Towers Productions will be presented at a ceremony April 12 at the Cultural Center.

Ch. 5 news anchor Bob Sirott will host the event toasting the two multi-honored companies, and Hugo winners who will be announced at the ceremonies.

L.A.-based MJZ founder/president David Zander and executive producer Lisa Rich will accept on behalf of the company. They will be introduced by Grant Hill, DDB’s Global Production Director.

Bill Kurtis, who has produced A&E shows with Towers, and former Towers producer and development director Betsy Steinberg will introduce Jonathan Towers. He will accept the award on behalf of his company.

MJZ made its presence known in Chicago last fall when it produced Allstate commercials, followed by a package of Sears commercials. MJZ and two other production houses spent most of the fourth quarter of 2006 shooting for Sears, whose Christmas package was so extensive crews dubbed it “Sears: The Movie.”

MJZ boasts a stable of prominent directors that include multi-awarded Spike Jonze, Dante Ariola and Craig Gillespie.

Founded in 1989 by Zander and directors Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel, MJZ was named Creativity Magazine’s “Production Company of the Year” in 2002, 2003 and 2005. Awards continued on and on, capped by twice winning Cannes “Palme d’Or” in 2005 and 2006.

Jonathan Towers also founded his cable programming company in 1989 and produced hundreds of hours of informative and entertaining programming for US and international networks including A&E, CNN, The History Channel, Discovery Networks, Lifetime and NBC.

Towers’ signature series are A&E shows “American Justice” and “Biography”?two of the longest-running shows on cable. Among its many honors is the New York Film Festival’s Best Writing/Best News Documentary Special award for its four-part “Inside 9/11,” produced for the National Geographic Channel.

Cinema/Chicago, the presenting company of the Chicago International Film Festival presents the Hugo Awards.

The ceremony will be held in the Claudia Cassidy Theatre at the Cultural Center, Washington St. and Michigan Ave., 7:30 p.m.

Like all Cinema/Chicago events, it will be preceded by supper and cocktails in the Rotunda, outside the theatre, and followed by a party at 9 p.m. Tickets are $50 and $42 for Cinema/Chicago members. Call 312/683-0121.

Hugo finalists will be showcased on Ch. 11’s “Image Union.” To vote for the Audience Choice Award, see www.chicagofilmfestival.com or www.wttw.com/hugos.

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