The second annual IIG awards were held on June 23rd, 2008 (ignore that the poster says 2007 – long story). This was a quantum leap forward for the awards ceremony, as we began a practice we continue to this day – using comedians as presenters. Also, our lifetime achievement award was going to someone still alive, which made it possible for someone to receive the award in person, and that’s just what happened when skeptical icon James “The Amazing” Randi showed up.
The first Iggie of the year went to NBC’s bizarre psychic competition “Phenomonon.” This may seem like a strange choice, but in an episode airing on Halloween, fellow skeptic Chris Angel made a bold challenge to psychics that lead to an altercation. Angel offered a million dollars to anyone who could psychically deduce the contents of an envelope he produced. He later revealed that it contained, simply, “9/11” – a provocative way of reminding us that, despite their lofty claims, no psychic predicted the terrible event.
Producers Dwight Smith and Michael Agrabian arrived to receive the award from celebrity presenter Paul Provenza.
We also had an award for Comedy Central’s long running “South Park” whose foul-mouthed children mocked Scientology, psychics and other skeptical bête noires.
Provenza stayed with us to present an award to National Geographic’s “Is it Real” – the definitive series on paranormal phenomenon. Each episode examines a specific claim from every angle, and, while not aggressively “de-bunking” it, makes an airtight case for the the answer to the show’s title to be “no.”
Comedienne and world class monologuist Julia Sweeney took the stage to present the next award to the feature film “In the Shadow of the Moon” which told the story of the last seven Apollo missions. Producer Duncan Copp arrived to receive his award.
One more award in this category went to Showtime’s series “Penn & Teller: Bullshit” – a series that was both logical and scatological as it debunked everything from religion to bottled water. Penn and Teller were not in attendance that evening, but they gave an acceptance speech to David Richards via video.
Truly Terrible Television Award
Provenza re-took the stage to present the award for promoting stupidity to the ur-paranormal-series – The Sci Fi channel’s “Ghost Hunters.” No one arrived to receive the award, but we later learned that, after the crowd had left, an actual producer for the series accepted the award under condition of anonymity. “The Unknown Producer” accepted the award from Provenza in a “ceremony” in the parking lot of the Steve Allen Theater.
Houdini Hall of Honor
Sweeney and Provenza stepped up for the spectacular finale of the evening – the induction of James Randi into the HHH. Randi was gracious and exuberant, and even performed some magic tricks for audience. Even the IIG wasn’t made aware of this, so it was a surprise for everyone, including IIG investigator Owen Hammer who seems genuinely perplexed by a one hundred year old rope trick given new life by Randi. However, the party didn’t end there. Randi stayed until midnight, not just talking to any one in attendance about his decades of skepticism, but continuing to perform impromptu magic. It was a night to remember.