Honoring WGBH’s Henry Becton

staff | April 28, 2008

Inside Thirteen blogger: Neal Shapiro, President

I spent Saturday night at WGBH, the public broadcaster in Boston, honoring Henry Becton. Last October, after 37 years as President, Henry stepped into his new roles as Vice Chair of WGBH’s Board of Trustees and Senior Editorial Advisor. The event not only honored a great public television leader, but the evening’s proceeds are going to the Becton Fund, which will award annual fellowships to promising young producers.

Henry Becton at WGBH

I had a little bit of déjà vu, since we just honored our own retiring Bill Baker. Like Bill here in New York, Henry guided Boston’s station through hard times and stood by what were some controversial programs. I know John Abbott, WGBH’s new President, feels as I do – that we both owe so much to the public television pioneers who preceded us.

Among the prominent names who were there to honor Henry: actress Kim Cattrall, star of the new Masterpiece program, My Boy Jack; Tony Award-winning singer and actress Barbara Cook; broadcast journalist Judy Woodruff; actress Jean Marsh, Emmy Award-winner for her work in Masterpiece’s Upstairs, Downstairs; PBS President Paula Kerger; Norm Abram of This Old House and The New Yankee Workshop; and Eric Jackson, radio host of WGBH 89.7’s Jazz with Eric in the Evening for 25 years.

Here’s a nice interview that the Boston Globe nabbed with Kim Cattrall right before dinner last night.

Throughout the evening, tapes of Henry in action were shown, including two in which Henry spoofed Riverdance and paid tribute to Judy Garland. Henry was a great leader: I knew Henry could walk the walk and talk the talk. Now I know he can sing and dance as well.

Neal Shapiro and Margaret Drain (WGBH VP of National Programming) meet Kim Cattrall