It was a full house on hand for the 49th annual ICG Publicists Awards luncheon and awards committee chair Henri Bollinger, along with co-chair Tim Menke, made it one of the most memorable events in decades. That was thanks to the ICG publicists directory dedication to Arlene Ludwig, and the heartfelt tribute that was given to her by major stars and the entire gathering of publicists who call her their friend and colleague.
When stars such as Julie Andrews and Jodie Foster showed up to salute Ludwig, you know she has to be a very special person. And indeed she is, celebrating 50 years in publicity with the Walt Disney Studios this year. Andrews said when she first arrived in Hollywood to do Mary Poppins, “I was scared, and I was lost to know what to do to play in this new sandbox called ‘motion pictures.’ It was then that a spry and caring Arlene Ludwig came into my life. She introduced herself as the publicist on the movie, but ultimately she became so much more to me. She became my friend, and I am so fortunate she has remained so over the years.”
Andrews joked that it was 40 years later when she went back to Disney to do The Princess Diaries, and of course Ludwig was once again working with her on the movie, “to my delight.”
Jodie Foster recalled that she was a little girl when she first worked at Disney Studios, “and Arlene let me drive the golf cart all over the lot. I had to love her for that. The strength of her character and her passion for her work and her fellow human beings are among the qualities that I admire about her. So Julie and I are here for two reasons, to tell Arlene how much we love her and respect her, and we are also here to celebrate her recovery.” That was the real cause for celebration, since an accident left Ludwig partially paralyzed, but at the event she stood shoulder to shoulder between her friends Julie Andrews and Jodie Foster as they paid tribute to her. Ludwig’s remarkable recovery just reconfirms what a remarkable and inspiring woman she is.
Julie Andrews also presented Carol Burnett with her Lifetime Achievement honor, noting that 50 years ago they were in rehearsals for the Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall special. Carol told personal anecdotes about her experiences over the year doing many shows and movies during her enduring career.
The Motion Picture Showmanship award went to David Heyman, producer of the Harry Potter franchise, and he accepted the honor in all sincerity. There was no doubt he was one of the crowd’s favorites, especially when you consider the job he has done with that billion dollar franchise.
Also more favorites on hand were Gary Oldman, an Oscar-nominee for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Max Von Sydow, also a nominee for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Keeping the tone of the event funny and moving right along was Aussie comedy star Rove McManus as host. Steven Poster, president of the International Cinematographers Guild, praised everyone who pulled together such a great event.
Josh Charles from The Good Wife presented David Stapf, president of CBS Television Studios, his Television Showmanship Award. The crowd saluted him loudly and wildly when he noted that he started as a publicist, “who is the heart and soul, and eyes and ears of any production.”
The other awards went to people who are less known in the industry, but the publicists honored are the ones who work hard to make sure the public know about what’s going on with their favorite stars, movies, and TV shows. The Les Mason Award, the highest honor paid to a publicist for lifetime achievement, went to Tony Angellotti, of the Angellotti Company. The International Media Award went to Elaine Lipworth from the United Kingdom, and the Press Award went to Susan King of the LA Times.
Recognizing a photographer’s significant contribution to the craft of unit still photography, the Excellence in Photography Award for motion pictures went to Frank Masi, and to Hopper Stone for his television work.
The Publicist Showman of the Year Maxwell Weinberg Award, for a motion picture, went to the publicity team at Disney that worked on The Help; and the ABC publicity team, plus the Fox Television production team, working on Modern Family, won in the television category. Maybe that’s why it’s such a blockbuster hit comedy.