Saturday, December 1, 2012

All you need to know: 4th Governors Awards

By James A. Molnar
TGK Editor

Jeffrey Katzenberg, Hal Needham, D.A. Pennebaker and George Stevens, Jr. will be honored tonight. All four will receive Oscar statuettes. This is the honorary Academy Awards — the 4th Annual Governors Awards, an untelevised, dinner event put on by the Academy to bestow its testimonial awards.

This year's Governors Awards, presented in the newly named Ray Dolby Ballroom at the Hollywood & Highland Center, is three weeks later than the previous three years, being held for the first time in December.

More intimate and slower-paced than the Brobdingnagian ceremony in February, the Governors Awards honors no more than four industry professionals and allows for lengthly video tributes, along with casual toasting and introductions by closely-connected friends and colleagues of honorees.

The Board of Governors of the Academy voted Sept. 5 to present Honorary Awards to stunt performer Needham, documentarian Pennebaker and arts advocate Stevens, Jr., and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to philanthropist Katzenberg.

The 43 governors were allowed to nominate as many living people as they wanted. The list of candidates generally numbers at least 10, TheWrap's Steve Pond reported.

Each governor casts a secret vote. The nominee with the largest number of votes then moves to a second round of voting, where each governor votes for or against that person's candidacy. If more than half the board votes yes, the Oscar is awarded.

The process continues until three awards are voted. The fourth and final candidate must receive yes votes from three-fourths of the governors to receive an award, according to Pond.

The honorees
Tonight a black-tie dinner event at Hollywood & Highland Center will celebrate the careers of Katzenberg, Needham, Pennebaker and Stevens, Jr.

Here are the honorees' biographies provided by the Academy:

Hal Needham is a legendary stunt performer and coordinator who has worked on more than 300 feature films including "The Spirit of St. Louis," "How the West Was Won," "Blazing Saddles," "Little Big Man" and "Chinatown." A pioneer in improving stunt technology and safety procedures, Needham also co-founded Stunts Unlimited, and is known for mentoring young stunt performers. In 1986, the Academy presented Needham with a Scientific and Engineering Award for the design and development of the Shotmaker Elite camera car and crane, which allows filmmakers greater versatility in shooting action sequences. Needham made his directorial debut with "Smokey and the Bandit." He went on to direct such features as "Hooper" and the "Cannonball Run" films.

D. A. Pennebaker, a pioneer of modern nonfiction film, has directed more than 20 feature-length documentaries, including "Don't Look Back," "Monterey Pop," "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars," "Moon over Broadway," "Kings of Pastry" and "The War Room," for which he received an Oscar® nomination. During his career of more than six decades, Pennebaker has inspired generations of filmmakers with his "you are here" style. He is considered one of the founders of the cinéma vérité movement, beginning with his collaboration on the seminal 1960 film "Primary."

George Stevens, Jr. has spent a lifetime celebrating and preserving the heritage of motion pictures. After several years at the United States Information Agency, where he championed the work of young documentary filmmakers and was Oscar-nominated for producing the documentary short subject "The Five Cities of June," Stevens went on to become the founding director of the American Film Institute. Under his leadership, the AFI established the Center for Advanced Film Studies, created the AFI Life Achievement Award and embarked on a host of educational initiatives. In 1977, Stevens co-founded the Kennedy Center Honors, which he has produced for the past 34 years.

A studio executive, film producer and philanthropist, Jeffrey Katzenberg has been instrumental in raising money for education, art and health-related causes, particularly those benefiting the motion picture industry. During more than two decades as chairman of the board for the Motion Picture and Television Fund, he helped to raise $200 million for the organization, created "The Night Before" event and worked to expand the MPTF campus. He also serves on the boards of such organizations as the California Institute of the Arts, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Geffen Playhouse, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Katzenberg currently serves as CEO of DreamWorks Animation.

The Honorary Award, an Oscar statuette, is given to an individual for “extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy.”

The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, an Oscar statuette, is given to an individual whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the motion picture industry.

Past honorees
Last year at the 3rd Governors Awards, Honorary Awards were presented to actor James Earl Jones and makeup artist Dick Smith (pictured) and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award went to philanthropist Oprah Winfrey.

At the 2nd Governors Awards, held Nov. 13, 2010, producer-director Francis Ford Coppola received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award and Honorary Awards (pictured below) went to historian and preservationist Kevin Brownlow, director Jean-Luc Godard and actor Eli Wallach.

Honorees at the inaugural Governors Awards, held Nov. 14, 2009, were producer-executive John Calley (Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award) actress Lauren Bacall, producer-director Roger Corman and cinematographer Gordon Willis. The latter three received Honorary Awards.

Other previous recipients were Jerry Lewis (Hersholt Award) at the 81st Academy Awards in February 2009, Robert Boyle (Honorary Award) at the 80th Academy Awards in February 2008 and Dino De Laurentiis (Thalberg Award) at the 73rd Academy Awards in March 2001.

The Board of Governors of the Academy voted in June 2009 to establish the Governors Awards, an annual event dedicated to presenting its testimonial awards – the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and the Honorary Award. Honorees are selected and announced in September and presented their awards in November. They are also acknowledged at the following Academy Awards ceremony.

The producers
Marketing executive Cheryl Boone Isaacs was tapped produce the event for the Academy in July. She will share the duties with Don Mischer Productions, the company's fourth show. The team will be led by Don Mischer, Charlie Haykel and Juliane Hare.

Boone Isaacs, a member of the Academy’s Board of Governors representing the Public Relations Branch, currently heads CBI Enterprises, Inc. where she has consulted on such films as “The Artist,” “The King’s Speech” and “Precious.”

She was the first African American woman to run a studio marketing department. She was also the first African American woman elected to the Academy’s Board of Governors. Boone Isaacs has served as president of theatrical marketing for New Line Cinema and executive vice president of worldwide publicity for Paramount Pictures. She orchestrated publicity campaigns for “Forrest Gump” and “Braveheart,” each of which won multiple Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Mischer, a veteran TV producer and director, has 15 Emmy Awards and a record 10 Directors Guild of America Awards. His three-decade long credits include producing and directing the 83rd and 84th Academy Awards, opening and closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, the 2004 Democratic National Convention and Super Bowl halftime shows.

Haykel and Hare most recently executive produced this year’s “Oscars Red Carpet Live,” the 90-minute Oscars pre-show. They were also consulting producers for the Oscars telecast.

Past producers for the Governors Awards have included writer-director Phil Robinson, former Academy president Sid Ganis and Academy Award-winning producer Bruce Cohen, who went on to co-produce the 83rd Academy Awards telecast.

The presenters
Per usual, the Academy is keeping mum as to the presenters at tonight’s ceremony. Last year, Mary J. Blige took the stage and sung "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" to "The Lion King himself," James Earl Jones. Sir Ben Kingsley presented Jones with his honorary Oscar in London. JJ Abrams and Linda Blair then toasted Dick Smith. Oscar-winning makeup artist Rick Baker presented Smith with his Oscar. John Travolta and Maria Shriver spoke about Oprah Winfrey before Ayanna Hall presented her with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

Live coverage of the ceremony tonight is available via the Academy’s twitter account. The Gold Knight will recap the night tomorrow, along with the fashion.

More information about the Governors Awards can be found on the Academy website.

Read a recap from the 3rd Annual Governors Awards.
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