If it weren’t for the entertainment publicity folks, very few outside of Hollywood would know about the industry’s great movies, television productions, and celebrity news. So it’s nice that the publicists get to take a bow once a year for the job they do keeping the showbiz spotlight shining.
The industry’s publicists are members of the International Cinematographers Guild (IATSE Local 600) which presented the 51st Annual Publicists Awards luncheon with hundreds on hand to honor excellence in publicity and promotion for motion pictures and television programs. The event at the Beverly Wilshire ballroom started with introductions by awards committee chairman Henri Bollinger. Then Steven Poster, ICG president, extolled the efforts of Bollinger for doing a tremendous job coordinating the special event for 51 years. For that and his professional and personal integrity, Henri is well respected by all who know him in the business. Thanks also went to Tim Menke who co-chaired the event. And the Guild’s President’s Award went to Linda Bell Blue, president of the new Entertainment Tonight Studios, and was presented by Poster. Linda thanked all who toil to make ET great, notably Bonnie Tiegel. Kudos also went to her mom and CBS head Les Moonves who created the ET Studios.
The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Jerry Lewis and was presented by the great Carol Burnett. Both received standing ovations. Carol talked about being inspired by the 87-year-old legendary comedian who came in from his home in Las Vegas to accept the trophy with a humble short speech.
There were other showbiz notables who got to enjoy the spotlight. The Motion Picture Showmen of the Year recipients, Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger, were acknowledged for their business savvy as co-chairs of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group. They are the management team and studio behind the blockbuster Hunger Games franchise. The stars of their much anticipated film Divergent, Shailene Woodley and Theo James made the presentation and reminded everyone it opens March 21, showing their own knack for promotion.
The Television Showman of the Year award went to a great woman, Shonda Rhimes, creator, writer, producer of Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal, and it was presented by Scandal’s philandering president Tony Goldwyn. In addition to being included in Time magazine’s “100 of the most influential people” list, and Fortune’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Business,” last year Shonda was appointed by President Obama as a Kennedy Center Trustee.
Funny guy Josh Gad, the voice of the snowman Olaf in the Oscar-winning film Frozen, presented a plaque commemorating the 90th anniversary of Walt Disney Animation Studios to the studio’s executive vice president Andrew Millstein, who said he was proud to have “the ghosts of nine old men” looking over him as he carries on Walt Disney’s legacy.
Rob Steinberg (12 Years a Slave) presented the Excellence in Still Photography for Motion Pictures Award to Peter Fountain while the Television Still Photography Award went to Michael Yarish.
The winner of the Les Mason Award, the highest honor for publicists, went to Michael Singer. It was presented graciously by Jacqueline Bisset (the Golden Globe winner for Dancing on the Edge). JoBeth Williams (Hart of Dixie) presented the Press Award to Scott Mantz of Access Hollywood. Phil Berk received the International Media Award from Theo Kingma, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
Finola Hughes (General Hospital) was busy handing out the Maxwell Weinberg Awards the best publicity campaigns. The movie campaign award went to the publicity team from Warner Bros. who worked on Gravity. The television campaign award went to the publicists with American Horror Story: Coven from the FX network.
During the ceremony there were several mentions of much-loved Guild members who passed away. Publicity legend Julian Myers was a dear friend to everyone who knew him. An amazing man at 95, he broke a world record for his age group in the 800-meter dash just weeks before he died in December. Another legend A.C. Lyles passed away last year after working for Paramount for an unbelievable 85 years. And Eddie Michaels, an accomplished gentleman was admired by his peers. In his opening remarks Poster also asked for a moment of silence for the accidental death last week of camerawoman Sarah Jones.
Sirena Irwin was a terrific host-announcer for the affair. She is a talented voice artist (SpongeBob SquarePants) as well an actress who tours with her Lucille Ball stage show. Sirena kept the awards moving so the hard working publicist could get back to work, as many of them still had many promotional duties to perform before Oscar’s big night.