Everyone attending the annual publicists’ luncheon is sure to be humming “We’re so glad we’ve had this time together” (the theme of The Carol Burnett Show). That’s because the remarkable comedian Carol Burnett will be in the spotlight receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Cinematographers Guild (ICG) 49th Publicists Awards on Feb. 24 at the Beverly Hilton. The announcement was made by ICG President Steven Poster and Henri Bollinger, awards committee chairman.
“Carol Burnett has had an extraordinary career and a reputation for direct involvement in the promotion of the shows and movies in which she has starred. She has a clear understanding of the role publicity plays in the success of TV shows and movies,” Bollinger said about the great choice to honor Burnett.
An entertainment icon of Broadway, films, and television, Burnett is very picky about the projects she does nowadays. An interesting script and working with good people is her criteria for taking a gig. She voiced a character in the strange new animated movie The Secret World of Arrietty, just being released by Disney. In recent years she has showcased her versatility on Desperate Housewives and on Law & Order: SVU, as well as her favorite soap All My Children. Awhile back she told me she would love to do more “when the right scripts come along.” She played the Nazi-hunting mother of Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) on Glee, going back a season. Burnett’s guest appearance was no surprise to those who have heard her gush as to how much she loves the musical glee club series. Also, Burnett said she’s been a fan of Jane Lynch “for quite awhile. I was thrilled to work with her in the movie Post Grad. She just kills me.”
She emphasized that she is not the retiring kind, but took time out to reflect on her life and write a book titled This Time Together: Laughter and Reflections. Last year she went out on a book signing tour and enjoyed meeting her fans. “They still ask the best questions,” she said, referring back to the Q-and-A’s she used to do at the start of every Carol Burnett Show.
The Texas-born, Hollywood-raised showbiz icon said she was “a nerd in school,” and as a student at Hollywood High she said she thought of different careers. “I wanted to be a journalist, and I wanted to have my own comic strip.” After graduating, the acting bug bit her when she attended UCLA, and began to study acting and drama. “I had the Mickey (Rooney) and Judy (Garland) ‘let’s put on a show’ mentality. I never felt I couldn’t do anything. I knew I had to be in New York. I wanted to be Ethel Merman and Mary Martin. I didn’t know how I would get to New York, but someone lent me the money and I went. I didn’t know where to stay, but I found my way. I was never frightened because I was naïve. I just thought life was a movie, and this adventure was going to end okay.”
Burnett made the rounds of readings and tryouts, and one day, auditioning for Leonard Bernstein for the Omnibus TV show, she was told to “belt out a novelty song. And he said, ‘Okay, you’re on next Sunday.’”
Other shows followed, and then her big break came on The Garry Moore Show, becoming a regular. After that, she landed her own variety series, “patterned after Garry’s show. We had fun, just like being a kid, putting on costumes, playing, having fun. That’s what made our show successful.” And The Carol Burnett Show had an amazing run on CBS from 1967 to 1978.
Her career spans 56 years, and Burnett at 78 has won six Emmys, two Golden Globes, a special Tony Award, a Peabody, and many other recognitions, including a Kennedy Center Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And now the Publicists Lifetime Achievement Award will join her collection.
Among the other honors being presented at the ICG Publicists luncheon are the Motion Picture Showman of the Year Award to David Heyman, producer of the Harry Potter movie franchise; and David Stapf, president of CBS Television Studios, will get the TV Showmanship Award. The publicists will also honor their own in various categories.