November 14, 2001

The New York Civil Liberties Union honored Nickelodeon President Albie Hecht, Film Director Ang Lee, and Civil Rights Activist Norman Siegel at a 50th anniversary gala fundraiser at Irving Plaza on the evening of November 14, 2001. The event was chaired by Artemis Records President Danny Goldberg.

“We are extremely grateful to Danny Goldberg and MTV for organizing the most successful fundraiser in recent NYCLU history,” said Interim Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “It is because of the continuing generosity of our contributors that over the last 50 years the NYCLU has successfully protected our fundamental rights and expanded the definition of justice in America.”

Native New Yorker Albie Hecht is president, film and TV entertainment for Nickelodeon, TV Land, and TNN. He was honored by the NYCLU for his successful efforts to produce thoughtful and diverse programming for children which encourages individual thinking and freedom of expression. With programs such as “The Secret World of Alex Mack,” “Kenan and Kel,” “Taina,” and “The Brothers Garcia” Nickleodeon has some of the diverse programming on television. Television journalist Linda Ellerbee presented Hecht with his award.

The NYCLU honored Director Ang Lee for creating a body of work which celebrates diverse cultures. A Taiwanese native, Lee won his first honors as a masters candidate in the film program at New York University, where he received the awards for Best Director and Best Film at the NYU Film Festival for “Fine Line,” a 45-minute film. Since graduating from NYU, Lee has collected numerous Golden Globes and Independent Spirit awards, Oscar nominations, and Best Director and Best Film honors from the New York Film Critics, the Boston Film Critics, and the National Board of Review for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “The Ice Storm,” “The Wedding Banquet,” “Eat Drink Man Woman,” and “Sense and Sensibility,”. Actress Sigourney Weaver, who starred in “The Ice Storm,” presented Lee with his award.

Norman Siegel served as the NYCLU’s executive director for 15 years. He started his career at the ACLU Southern Regional Office after graduating from New York University Law School in 1968. He was on the NYCLU’s staff through most of the 1970’s, then after a seven-year stint as director of a community law office in Upper Manhattan, he rejoined the NYCLU as executive director in 1985. He resigned his position at the beginning of the year to seek public office. Former ACLU Executive Director Ira Glasser presented Siegel with his award.

Jewel performed for guests.

Since it was formed as a committee of the American Civil Liberties Union in 1951, the NYCLU has zealously fought to protect and expand New Yorkers’ rights. This has included mounting successful battles to end prayer in the schools, to legalize abortion in New York State, and to resist censorship in libraries.