Allen Branton, a 33-year veteran of the entertainment lighting business with hundreds of successful projects to his credit, is the winner of the 2006 Wally Russsell Lifetime Achievement Award. The 2006 "Wally" will be presented as part of the LDI awards ceremony on Saturday evening, October 21, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Branton is a native of Little Rock, Arkansas. His father and younger brother are both practicing architects and his parents probably expected that he would pursue something equally respectable. After stints as a student and teenage musician/band leader, Branton moved to Dallas in 1973 to join the newly formed lighting department at Showco, Inc. Quickly showing his capability as a lighting director, by age 23 he had served in that capacity for the Beach Boys, Three Dog Night, Leon Russell, The Guess Who, and Mountain. During his final year with Showco, he served as advance man for The Who's U.S. Tour and Paul McCartney's "Wings Over America". Leaving Dallas in 1977, Branton launched a free-lance career, designing for Alice Cooper, Burton Cummings, Bread, Ben Vereen, and Diana Ross in the next two years.
Branton first forayed into television with a Diana Ross HBO special in 1979, and then with Diana in 1981, a CBS special for which he was nominated for an Emmy. His six CableACE nominations for lighting include HBO productions of Sting in Tokyo (1989) and Madonna Live!, for which he won the 1990 award; then two nominations in 1992 for "The MTV Movie Awards" and Disney's Gloria Estefan - Going Home. Allen went on to win an Emmy for his work on Bette Midler’s Diva Las Vegas in 1997 and received his third Emmy nomination for Cher-Live From the MGM.
Beginning in 1991, Branton designed dozens of episodes of MTV's inexplicably adult UNplugged music series, a 1993 CableACE lighting nominee; and since 1989 their prestigious Video Music Awards, the 1993 CableACE winner for lighting. Recent television productions include the Halftime celebrations for the 2003 and 2004 Super Bowls, VH1’s Save The Music in 2005, Chris Rock’s Bring the Pain, and the MTV Movie Awards from 1992 to the present.
Branton was nominated by Performance Magazine readers as Lighting Designer of the Year eight times, winning in 1981, '82, '87, and '91. Though television has claimed all of his attention in recent years. Branton continued to work as a concert lighting designer through 2000. His touring clients since 1980 include Diana Ross, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Ozzy Osbourne, the Oak Ridge Boys, The Bee Gees, Judas Priest, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, The Who, Fleetwood Mac, Paul Simon, Vince Gill, Marc Anthony, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Jennifer Lopez, and Bette Midler.
This year, the Wally's newcomer award has been reinstated and will be presented to Charles Kirby of Thematics, the father of Lightbox, an LED and Fiber Optic Model Lighting Kit for any scaled theater.
Founded in 1992, the prestigious "Wally" Award was established in memory of Wally Russell, a true trailblazer whose career influenced several generations of industry professionals. Each year, the "Wally" honors one individual who exhibits a strong sense of leadership, a commitment to technological innovation, and a career of service to the lighting industry.
Past winners of the "Wally" include: Richard Belliveau in 2005; George C. Izenour in 2004; Sonny Sonnenfeld in 2003; Jimmy Fuller in 2002; Jim Bornhorst in 2001; Stan Miller in 2000; Don Stern in 1999; Bran Ferren in 1998; Fred Bentham in 1997; Francis DeVerna in 1996; Tharon Musser in 1995; George van Buren in 1994; Charles Altman in 1993; and Wally Russell in 1992 (in memorial). The "Wally" Newcomer Award was presented to Robert Bell in 1992.
The Wally Russell Fund Board Members