The Booked for the EveningCommittee at the Westport Public Library announced recently that Emmy award-winning television host and broadcast journalist Phil Donahue will be the master of ceremonies at the tribute on Thursday, May 27, at 7 p.m., at Westport Library's gala fundraiser, Booked for the Evening, when puzzle master and New York Times Crossword Puzzle Editor Will Shortz will receive the Westport Public Library Award.
The Westport Public Library Award honors those whose work furthers the goals of the library -- to nurture a love of learning and to enhance our understanding of the world.
Shortz published his first puzzle at age 14. By 16, he had become a regular contributor to puzzle magazines. Graduating from Indiana University, the only person to ever major in enigmatology, he also earned a law degree from the University of Virginia.
Shortz pursued his passion for puzzles at Games Magazine, founding the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, and as Puzzle Master for National Public Radio. Joining The New York Times as crossword editor in 1993, Shortz has praised the paper's readers as "the most intelligent, best educated group of solvers in the country." Writing and editing more than 400 books of crosswords, Sudoku and brain teasers, he was the subject of the acclaimed 2006 film Wordplay.
Among other accomplishments, Shortz established the World Puzzle Championship, serving as captain of the U.S. team, contributed riddles to the 1995 movie Batman Forever, and was named by Esquire Magazine one of "The 100 Best People in the World."
An avid table tennis player, Shortz continues to add to his incomparable collection of puzzle books, the earliest dating from 1545.
For 11 years Shortz has been hosting the Annual Crossword Puzzle Contest at the Westport Public Library on the first Saturday in February. The contest has attracted more than 1,200 people who enjoy participating in a friendly contest with other puzzle enthusiasts.
Previous recipients of the award have been Tom Brokaw, E.L. Doctorow, Calvin Trillin, Wendy Wasserstein, Pete Hamill, Martin Scorsese, Arthur Mitchell, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David Halberstam, Oscar Hijuelos and Adam Gopnik.
Donahue and the Donahue show were honored with 20 Daytime Emmy awards, including nine for "Outstanding Host," and a George Foster Peabody Broadcasting Journalism Award.
Donahue used the television talk show format he pioneered in 1967 to interview world leaders, celebrities, newsmakers and people from all walks of life. For more than 29 years, he examined human behavior, focused national debates on political and social issues and has provided a democratic forum for presidential candidates.
The format he introduced on Nov. 6, 1967, as The Phil Donahue Show on WLWD-TV in Dayton, Ohio, launched the first audience participation television talk show and changed the face of American daytime television. For his outstanding contribution to television and American culture, Donahue was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame on Nov. 20, 1993.
As host of Donahue, he has presided over nearly 7,000 one-hour daily shows, many on-location broadcasts and several historic broadcasts from Russia. Most recently, Donahue was the executive producer of Body of War, an intimate and transformational feature documentary about the true face of war today.