Oscar champs Jonathan Demme ("The Silence of the Lambs"), Anjelica Huston ("Prizzi's Honor") and Quentin Tarantino ("Pulp Fiction") as well as honorary Oscar winner Kirk Douglas are the first presenters announced for the inaugural Governors Awards on Nov. 14. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences event will fete Thalberg honoree studio exec John Calley and honorary Oscar recipients actress Lauren Bacall, producer Roger Corman and cinematographer Gordon Willis.
Douglas will no doubt salute Bacall, his onetime acting school classmate and co-star ("Young Man With a Horn"). Huston -- daughter of director John Huston, who worked with Bacall and her husband Humphrey Bogart on "Key Largo" -- could also be talking about Bacall's talents. Expect Demme to sing the praises of Corman, who gave him his start as a director with "Caged Heat." And perhaps Tarantino will also salute the pulp filmmaker.
Oscar-winning producer Bruce Cohen ("American Beauty") is organizing the evening in collaboration with Emmy-winning director Don Mischer. As per the initial academy news release, the honorees "will also be acknowledged at the year's Academy Awards ceremony." That wording could mean that a highlight reel of the November night will be shown during the Oscar telecast, as is done now with the scientific and technical award winners. Or it could mean that the honorees are introduced in the audience of the Kodak Theatre.
There have been 37 winners of the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, which is presented to “creative producers whose bodies of work reflect a consistently high quality of motion picture production.” The first recipient of this award -- named for the MGM producer, who had died shortly before -- was Darryl F. Zanuck in 1937. The most recent honoree was Dino De Laurentiis in 2000.
Honorary Oscars have been awarded since the first ceremony, when Warner Bros. was lauded "for producing 'The Jazz Singer,' the pioneer outstanding talking picture, which has revolutionized the industry," and Charlie Chaplin was told it had been "unanimously decided that your name should be removed from the competitive classes, and that a special first award be conferred upon you for writing, acting, directing and producing 'The Circus.' The collective accomplishments thus displayed place you in a class by yourself." The most recent honoree was this year when Robert F. Boyle was saluted "in recognition of one of cinema's great careers in art direction."
Photo credits: Warner Bros., New World Pictures