Saturday, November 12, 2011

Recap and highlights: 3rd Annual Governors Awards

Stormtroopers marched into the Grand Ballroom in Hollywood on Saturday, Nov. 12, to John Williams' bombastic score, kicking off the Academy's Honorary Oscars.

Then appeared Darth Vader, taking the podium on stage. The man behind the mask was revealed: Academy President Tom Sherak.

“One of the things I love about these evenings is just looking around to see who we are,” Sherak said. “We’re just not movie stars or big-name directors. We’re also sound wizards and costume artists and documentarians and executives.”

Officially titled the Governors Awards, this annual evening of esteem is held apart from February’s Academy Awards in order to give more time in tribute to the honorees.

This year, the third of the separate event, Honorary Awards were given to actor James Earl Jones, for whom the Stormtroopers marched, and legendary makeup man Dick Smith, known for his work on “The Exorcist.” Oprah Winfrey was also honored with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Each received Oscar statuettes.

James Earl Jones

Jones, 80, who accepted his Oscar from London, said he never imagined this would happen. Glenn Close and Alec Baldwin honored Jones, while Sir Ben Kingsley presented the award to him.

“You achieve what every actor strives for,” Kingsley said to Jones, “let me put it simply, you’re always so damn good.”

Jones held up his Oscar to much applause in Wyndham's Theatre where he is starring with Vanessa Redgrave in “Driving Miss Daisy.”

“That’s the only word that I can think of that’s appropriate for this improbable moment in my life,” Jones said, after calling himself gobsmacked.

“Now sometimes those [movie] morsels I’m quite proud of,” Jones said of how he is on the stage more so than in film. “But you cannot be a cinema actor and conduct your career like I’ve done and not end up with some of the worst movies ever committed to celluloid.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, I stand before you deeply honored, mighty grateful and just plain gobsmacked,” Jones said in closing.

James Earl Jones received his Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for "The Great White Hope" (1970).

Dick Smith
JJ Abrams and Linda Blair then toasted Smith. Oscar-winning makeup artist Rick Baker presented Smith with his Oscar.

“Another reason he’s known as the ‘godfather of makeup’ is because he makes you offers that you can’t refuse,” Baker said, referring to being Smith’s lab assistant on “The Exorcist.”

“It is now the greatest pleasure that I would like to present this honorary Oscar to the greatest makeup artist who ever lived, Mr. Dick Smith,” he said.

Smith, 89, took a minute to take in the moment and blew Baker a kiss.

“I will never forget tonight,” Smith said. “From the bottom of my heart, thank you all.”

“I have loved being a makeup artist so much, but this kind of puts a crown, a cap, on all of that,” he said. “To have so much kindness given to me, all in one huge piece is just too much. I am so grateful.”

Dick Smith received two nominations and one win in his career. The first was for “Amadeus” (1984), for which he won the Makeup Oscar, and the second nomination was for “Dad” (1989).

Oprah Winfrey

The final honor of the night was the humanitarian award. John Travolta and Maria Shriver spoke about Winfrey before Ayanna Hall presented her with the Oscar.

Hall was benefited by a scholarship through the Oprah Winfrey Foundation to attend a college prep boarding school in Connecticut.

“It’s amazing how one phone call can change your life,” Hall said, about getting the news that she received the scholarship.

“I can only hope that I become half the woman she is,” she said. “And I know that when I can, I’m going to share my gifts with the world. Just like she was willing to share hers with me.”

Winfrey’s longtime friend Gayle King asked Hall to present the Oscar. Winfrey was surprised and touched by Hall’s appearance.

“I never imagined myself receiving an Oscar,” Winfrey said, Oscar in hand. “Certainly not for doing what I believe is a part of my calling, is a part of my being.”

She then attributed Quincy Jones for discovering her and casting her as Sofia in “The Color Purple.”

“It’s unimaginable that I would be standing before you, voted by the Board of Governors,” Winfrey said, shaking her head. “It’s unimaginable.”

“You have voted for, what I believe is the essence of why we’re all here,” she said, addressing the more than 500 attendees. “We’re all here to help each other. We’re all here to use our lives in service to one another.”

Winfrey was nominated for the Supporting Actress Oscar for “The Color Purple” (1985).

To view exclusive videos from the Governors Awards, visit

7:30 p.m. PT
• Governors Awards opens with Stormtroopers marching into the Grand Ballroom
• Darth Vader marches onto the stage and reveals himself as Academy President Tom Sherak
• Sherak: "How was your week?" (Read)
• Sherak then tributes former Oscars producers Laura Ziskin and Gil Cates (read), who passed away this year. "Please stand and join me in the very first toast of the evening — to two incredible people. To Laura and Gil, may your souls rest in peace," he said.

7:40 p.m.
The welcome speech ends and dinner is served.

8:45 p.m.
Mary J. Blige takes the stage and sings "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" to "The Lion King himself," James Earl Jones.
Alec Baldwin pays tribute to Jones: "I wanted James Earl Jones' career. That is what I want. That is what every actor wants."
• Cue: Clip of Jones in "Coming To America"
• "I lucked out. It was great fun to be a part of that." (James Earl Jones, about "Star Wars")
Glenn Close on stage: "James Earl Jones is the only actor who has actually broken me apart."
• Taped video from London, earlier today: Ben Kingsley presents Oscar to Jones
• Jones "deeply honored, mighty grateful and just plain gobsmacked."

9:10 p.m.
Linda Blair on stage to speak about Dick Smith ("I was supposed to be the next Disney girl. Well...")
JJ Abrams on stage and reads a letter he received from Smith years ago: "Dear JJ, here's an old, but clean tongue from 'The Exorcist.' "
Rick Baker presents Oscar to Smith, saying he's "proud to be presenting this award to my idol, my mentor, my friend for over 43 years." He calls Smith "the greatest makeup artist alive." "It's unbelievable what this man has done."
• Smith takes the stage. "I have loved being a makeup artist so much, but this puts a crown on all of that. I am so grateful," he says, choked-up. "To have so much kindness, this too much."

9:40 p.m.
• Oprah Winfrey tribute video starts.
Larry Gordon tells a story about sharing tequila shots with Oprah.
• John Travolta to Oprah: "I don't think the world is big enough to reflect your spirit." He adds: "This is power used correctly." (Picture)
Maria Shriver next to tribute Oprah. She has known her since 1978, when they both lived in same apartment complex.
Ayanna Hall, a college student to whom Oprah gave a scholarship, speaks: "On behalf of the 65,000 other students she has sent to school, the words aren't adequate, Ms. Winfrey. Thank you."
• "I would like to thank the Board of Governors for the opportunity to receive the love … and the Oscar," Oprah says. "To be here tonight, it is unimaginable…" She says she was drawn to "The Color Purple" in "some kind of mystical way."
• Oprah: "Your life matters. You matter. What you do matters."

10:15 p.m.
The Governors Awards comes to an end with a round of applause for the honorees.

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