Just how important is Simon Cowell to News Corp.? The reality star/producer, who served as a judge on Fox’s juggernaut American Idol and is now prepping an U.S. version of The X Factor for the network, received an International Emmy Founders Award tonight. In what organizers described as “a total surprise,” News Corp. chairman and CEO Murdoch appeared on stage to present the award. The other life achievement honor, the International Emmy Directorate Award, went to Lorne Michaels and was presented by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon host Jimmy Fallon and 30 Rock star Alec Baldwin.

As for the rest of the awards, Israel won for the first time in the comedy category with Traffic Light (Kupperman Productions/Keshet Broadcasting). A U.S. version of the series, Mixed Signals, launches in midseason on Fox. Portugal made history by taking home their first ever International Emmy Award for the telenovela My Love.  CQC (Eyeworks Cuatro Cabezas SA) Argentina won in the Non-Scripted Entertainment Category after nine nominations. Romania won for the first time in the Arts Programming Category with The World According to Ion B (HBO Romania) and South Korea won for the first time in the Documentary Category with Mom and the Red Bean Cake (Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation).

British programs won in both performance categories with Helena Bonham Carter for Best performance by an Actress for her role as Enid Blyton in Enid and Bob Hoskins in the Best Performance by an Actor for his role as Paddy Gargan in The Street.