It was a night that both father and son, Kirk Douglas and Michael Douglas, glowed in the limelight. Although it was because of Michael’s illustrious career accomplishments that brought the two together along with their wives, and a room full of Hollywood stars and industry giants. All were at the taping of the 37th AFI’s Life Achievement Award, airing on TV Land PRIME, July 19th at 9 p.m.
“Tonight is very special to me, because my father is here, years after getting his award. And my mother is here. I’m touched, I really am,” Michael said with his stunning wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, beaming by his side. The feeling was mutual from the matriarch and patriarch, Anne and Kirk Douglas, who enjoyed strolling the red carpet on the Sony Studios lot where the gala event took place.
The 92-year-old Kirk joked that “it makes me feel like an old man when they give my son a lifetime achievement award. The kid’s too young!” The legendary “Spartacus” star (and producer) got his AFI recognition back in ’91, and Michael was there to do the honors. When a gang of reporters circled Kirk and asked him how it felt to have his son follow in his footsteps, Kirk corrected everyone, pointing out that “Michael followed his own path, and I couldn’t be more proud.”
So how did Michael, at 64, wind up being honored by the American Film Institute with the AFI Life Achievement Award? “What was the key ingredient in your career that put you in the spotlight tonight?” I asked him. Although he was being rushed down the red carpet right before the taping began, Michael, forever the gentleman, stopped to think about his answer. “I believe it was all about not being worried about being a movie star. You just have to do what you love to do.”
There was a lot of love being spread among Douglas’ inner-circle of friends and colleagues who showed up for the occasion. Among the stellar crowd, Kathleen Turner, costar of “Romancing the Stone”; Anne Archer, “Fatal Attraction”; Annette Bening, “The American President”; Erika Christensen, “Traffic”; and Matthew McConaughy, “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” Michael’s most recent on-screen appearance. This fall he’ll be seen in the courtroom thriller “Beyond A Reasonable Doubt,” in which Jesse Metcalfe also stars. Handsome young Jesse (most famous for being Eva Longoria’s lawn-mowing paramour on “Desperate Housewives”) said the first day on the set with Michael was magic.
More stars and powerful folks included Sumner Redstone, Warren Beatty, Pat Riley, Jason Reitman, Oliver Stone, Martin Sheen, Benicio del Toro, Tobey Maguire, James Keach, Jane Seymour, Eric McCormack, Melanie Griffith, Carole Bayer Sager, Rich Frank and Hugh Hefner with his entourage of lovely blondes.
The head of TV Land, Larry Jones said, “We are thrilled to serve as the new home of the AFI Life Achievement Award. It is an honor to be part of this tribute, and we are excited to bring it to our audience, which has followed Mr. Douglas’s remarkable career with great interest.” Viewers certainly consider Michael’s series “The Streets of San Francisco” a TV classic.
Our favorite motion picture historian, Leonard Maltin (on the red carpet with his wife Alice), talked about how “Michael has never been afraid to tackle difficult roles. He’s a smart guy who has made some landmark films.” So has his dad. There’s a tremendous legacy the entertainment world has, thanks to both father and son.