David and Jim Katz were born and raised in Island Park, but this weekend they will stage an awards show on the other side of the country. It will be attended by household names, but presented in honor of show business stalwarts who are seldom in the spotlight.
The event, called the Carney Awards, is named for the late Art Carney, who played, among many other roles, Ed Norton in the acclaimed sitcom “The Honeymooners,” which ran on CBS in 1955 and 1956. These will be the fourth annual awards, which honor character actors, and they will take place at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, Calif., on Sunday.
“It’s a show for the working class of actors,” David Katz said, noting that Carney was often overshadowed by the creator and star of “The Honeymooners,” Jackie Gleason, who played Ralph Kramden. “Our show is a love letter to Art Carney by honoring these fabulous actors who will literally appear in every movie and TV show, yet nobody knows their names,” Katz added, explaining that the ceremony is for the hardworking actors who are recognizable, but “don’t win Emmys or Oscars.”
“These awards shows tend to only acknowledge the big stars, the Tom Hankses, and the pretty people, the Clooneys,” his brother added, referring to George Clooney.
Nonetheless, stars like Billy Crystal, who is originally from Long Beach, Bryan Cranston and Allison Janney have taken part in the Carneys as presenters. And famous locals Steve Buscemi, originally from Valley Stream, and David Paymer, from Oceanside, have been honored at past events.
Mingling with celebrities is nothing new to the Katzes. As an agent, David, 55, used to represent “The Howard Stern Show,” and he is now the CEO of the Elvis Duran Group, the production company behind the popular “Elvis Duran and the Morning Show,” heard locally on radio station Z100. Jim, 51, is Billy Joel’s former accountant, and won an Emmy for producing the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, on NBC. He now runs the production company Radcliffe Road Pictures — named for the Island Park street where the brothers grew up.
They attended Francis X. Hegarty Elementary School and Lincoln Orens Middle School, and both developed a passion for the arts. “I was just a fan of television growing up . . . sitting in front of the TV after school from 3 p.m. till dinner time,” David recalled. “I knew I was going to get into the business one way or another.”
After graduating from West Hempstead High School, he studied communications and broadcast journalism at Syracuse University, but wound up in sales and promotions. David then found his way into syndicating, traveling cross-country and selling shows such as the original “Baywatch” to television networks on behalf of their production companies. He became an agent for Don Buchwald & Associates, which represents “The Howard Stern Show,” where he met Duran, one of his first clients in broadcasting.
He and Duran left the agency and formed the Elvis Duran Group 11 years ago, and started producing the Z100 morning show, which is syndicated in 75 cities across the country.
“As an agent, you get brought into the world of make-believe and fantasy . . . It’s pretty wild for a kid growing up in Long Island,” David said. Over the years, he has mingled with celebrities like Macy and Bruce McGill. These days he represents Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider and broadcaster and former Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez.
Jim Katz studied accounting at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, N.J. Through his work for Billy Joel, he met Don Ohlmeyer, one of the creators of “Monday Night Football,” and got into production using his knowledge in finance, he explained.
“My father pushed me into accounting, saying I would starve as an artist,” Jim recalled, “but eventually I followed my dream.”
After going to work for NBC, he produced the 1988 Summer Olympics, and won an Emmy for technical achievement. He went on to produce cartoons for Hanna-Barbera, including 1997’s “Cats Don’t Dance,” for which he won an Annie Award — “the Academy Award equivalent for cartoons,” Jim said.
The Carney Awards were 18 years in the making, according to Jim. It’s a “joint venture,” he said, between Radcliffe Road Pictures and the Elvis Duran Group, that grew out of the brothers’ appreciation for Art Carney and actors like him — and Art’s son, Brian Carney, helped bring the idea to life.
“I used to tape [‘The Honeymooners’] on a cassette tape . . . Now I’m doing a show with Art Carney’s family,” David said, adding that he also met Joyce Randolph, 94, the last living member of the show’s cast and crew, who played Ed Norton’s wife, Trixie. “It is beyond my wildest imagination.”
This year, Patton Oswalt is hosting the Carneys, and Harrison Ford will present the Chairman’s Lifetime Achievement Award to M. Emmet Walsh, a character actor who has appeared in more than 200 films and television series. It will be recorded, and aired on PIX11 on Nov. 24, at 8 p.m.
“It’s probably the most fun award show to watch — it’s not boring like all the other ones,” Jim said. “And at the end of the show, all the actors are on stage with our host, and no other award show does that . . . and you never know what’s going to happen.”