Honorary Oscars caps long week for AcademyWritten by James A. Molnar | The Gold Knight | firstname.lastname@example.org
Stormtroopers marched into the Grand Ballroom in Hollywood on Nov. 12 to John Williams’ bombastic score, kicking off the motion picture academy’s Honorary Oscars.
Then Darth Vader appeared, taking the podium on stage. The man behind the mask was revealed: Tom Sherak, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
He welcomed the more than 500 attendees and dinner began.
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, known for his booming voice and for whom the Storm- troopers 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.
Jones, 80, who accepted his Oscar in London, said he never imagined this would happen, calling himself “gobsmacked.”
“That’s the only word that I can think of that’s appropriate for this improbable moment in my life,” Jones said.
J.J. Abrams and Linda Blair toasted Smith. Oscar-winning makeup artist Rick Baker presented “the godfather of makeup” with his Oscar.
“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,” Baker said.
Smith, 89, took in the moment and blew Baker a kiss.
“I will never forget tonight,” Smith said. “I have loved being a makeup artist so much, but this kind of puts a crown, a cap, on all of that.”
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 she had 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, 57, was surprised and touched by Hall’s appearance.
“I never imagined myself receiving an Oscar,” Winfrey said, award in hand. “Certainly not for doing what I believe is a part of my calling, is a part of my being.”
“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. “We’re all here to help each other. We’re all here to use our lives in service to one another.”
Jones received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for “The Great White Hope” (1970). 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). Winfrey was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for “The Color Purple” (1985).
To view videos and photos from the Governors Awards, visit Oscars.org.
A tumultuous week
In a week during which the Academy should have been preparing for its Governors Awards, it was cleaning up a mess.
Ex-Oscars co-producer Brett Ratner resigned Nov. 8 after intense scrutiny for comments made while promoting his new film “Tower Heist,” starring ex-Oscars host Eddie Murphy. Hired by Ratner, Murphy then stepped down as host the next day. Later that day, Brian Grazer was named the new Oscars producer, joining Don Mischer. And Nov. 10, Billy Crystal announced that he would host the Academy Awards on Feb. 26 for the ninth time; his most recent was in 2004.
Toledo Free Press Lead Designer and Film Editor James A. Molnar blogs about all things Oscar at TheGoldKnight.com.
Tags: 84th Oscars, Academy Awards, Billy Crystal, Brett Ratner, Brian Grazer, Dick Smith, Eddie Murphy, Governors Awards, James A. Molnar, James Earl Jones, Oprah Winfrey, Oscars, Star Wars, The Gold Knight