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Cosby Show, Family Ties and Regis Philbin Among Honorees at TV Land Awards in New York

For the first time in its nine-year history, the TV Land Awards pulled up stakes in Los Angeles and headed for New York, bringing a Big Apple feel to the Javits Center last night.

The Cosby Show, set in Brooklyn and taped in New York, was honored with the Impact Award. The cast, including co-creator Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad, reunited.

“It means that not only are we still relevent today…We made some sort of a difference, and some sort of an impact 25 years ago,” Sabrina LeBeauf (above) , who played Sondra on the hit sitcom, tells FishbowlNY.

The Cosby Show, which helped resurrect NBC from 1984 to 1992, had another “impact” on television viewing.

“I don’t see any show on now that impacts people in that way… [that] family show [did],” Geoffrey Owens (who played Elvin) says. “I think it’s fair to say that, unfortunately, that’s a little bit … of the past right now.”

Owens says Cosby remains a unique and important show years later given that TV is so markedly different today.

Stevie Wonder, who had a memorable guest shot in 1986, presented the award.

But that was just the start.

The Facts of Life (set in Peekskill, N.Y.) was named the Pop Culture Award winner. The entire cast (save for George Clooney) was on hand, led by the show’s star Charlotte Rae (who will turn 85 next week).

Daryl Hall and John Oates won the Music Icon Award for their numerous hits, primarily during the 1980s.

The crowd was a buzz as John Travolta reunited with his former Welcome Back, Kotter. The 1970s sitcom took place at a fictitious Brooklyn high school where Gabe Kaplan was teaching the “Sweathogs.”

“Basically, it was a show about my life. I grew up with kids like that. I talked about them in my nightclub act and all of a sudden it became a television show,” Kaplan recalls. “So every week for me was like going back to high school.”

Travolta was whisked away from the media on the red carpet.

One other classic show was recognized by TV Land, and another from the powerful NBC Thursday night lineup of the 1980s–Family Ties.

Like Travolta whose career was launched with Kotter, Michael J. Fox took off from the sitcom’s exposure. He joined his entire “family” (with the exception of Brian Bonsall, who played the young Andy) as winners of the Fan Favorite Award.

Michael Gross (right), who played dad Steven Keaton, knew the show was making difference when he started getting mail from viewers.  

“Everybody’s got a family whose a family that’s either functioning quite well, not functioning at all or horribly dysfunctional. I just remember all the letters I used to get from people saying, ‘I want a dad like you,’ which was a little sad to hear constantly from many kids.”

Gross says Family Ties had the perfect formula to reverberate with fans.

“We had very diverse views in that family and yet we could all sit down and talk about it, and love each other, in spite of the fact that the kids didn’t necessarily agree with the parents.”  

The 2011 TV Land Awards will debut on the cable network Sunday, April 17.

Finally, there’s Regis Philbin, who announced that he’ll retire from Live later this year, was the Legend Award winner.  

“No, not even close,” Philbin, 79, deadpanned about being called a legend.

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