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Logo plans special honoring gay-rights pioneers

– The Logo network next month will launch what it hopes will become an annual televised event saluting pioneers in the gay rights movement, with the woman who challenged the federal Defense of Marriage act as the first honoree.

“Trailblazers” will air June 26, a year after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision denying federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. Edie Windsor brought the case to the courts when she got a $363,000 federal tax bill after her partner’s death.

Logo will tape the show a few days in advance from Manhattan’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine, one of the first churches in New York to offer same-sex weddings.

Besides Windsor, Logo will also honor her lawyer, Roberta Kaplan. Logo will feature three or four more honorees, some from the world of entertainment, network president Stephen Friedman said Wednesday. Those names will be announced later.

The group A Great Big World and others will perform, he said.

“We want it to be both honoring the trailblazers and a night of great entertainment,” Friedman said.

Friedman is also president of MTV, Logo’s sister network at Viacom Inc. Like other networks, MTV is well aware of the power of big events to drive viewership; the MTV Video Music Awards is frequently its most popular telecast of the year.

Logo, with a programming lineup aimed at gays and lesbians, hopes “Trailblazers” can be a similar signature moment for its audience.

Besides the Supreme Court decision, the last week of June marks the anniversary of riots at the Stonewall bar in New York City in 1969, the event that launched the gay rights movement.

Conducting research on its viewers, Logo found that many lacked but craved a sense of history, Friedman said.

“They said, we don’t have a sense of the leaders from the past, the Rosa Parks, the Dr. (Martin Luther) Kings, the Rep. (John) Lewises – the people upon whose shoulders we stand,” he said. “There’s no one talking about these pioneers.”

He said that “it felt like there was a real opportunity for us and our audience.”

The show will also feature appearances by Jared Leto, Kylie Minogue, Ariana Grande, Rita Ora, Iggy Azalea, Mary Lambert and Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees. More performers and guests are expected.

Logo is also asking viewers to nominate “Hometown Trailblazers,” local people who have made a difference in their lives. One person will be selected to attend the awards show.

Friedman is also looking to revamp Logo’s annual NewNowNext Awards, a celebration of up-and-coming entertainers that annually airs in the fall.

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