AFI recasts its top '100'

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Gearing up for the next installment of its annual TV special under the banner of "AFI's 100 Years …," the American Film Institute has decided to play it again, Sam.

For the 10th edition of its yearly look at the best in American movies, the AFI will return to the theme of the first show broadcast in 1998, "AFI's 100 Years … 100 Movies," and offer a new assessment of the 100 greatest movies of all time.

More than 1,500 jurors — drawn from directors, screenwriters, actors, editors, cinematographers, critics and historians — will be asked to make their choices from a list of 400 American, narrative feature films, including long-standing classics as well as newly eligible films released from 1996-2006. Of the 400 films on the ballot, 44, or about 11%, come from the past decade.

The results will be presented in a three-hour program, directed by Gary Smith, exec produced by Smith and Frederick S. Pierce and produced by Dann Netter and Bob Gazzale, which will air in June on CBS.

The AFI envisions creating a new list of the 100 greatest movies of all time every 10 years so that it can assemble a decade-by-decade portrait of changing appreciations of American film.

"We needed to think about the 21st century in a way that would enable us to document film history as appropriately as possible," AFI president and CEO Jean Picker Firstenberg said. "We had to play so much catch up for the first 100 years (of film history), it became clearer and clearer that we needed to think about great movies every 10 years, so that we'll have a decade-by-decade sense of it and be really responsive to the 21st century. We're very excited to see where the jury comes down on this. We think we're going to see shifts and changes."

Said Gazzale: "We'll be building a volume every 10 years, adding to the first list."

While Firstenberg has said she will be retiring this year, the search for her successor is under way, and the CEO said she expects to remain at her post until the fall, which will allow her to oversee the unveiling of the new list.

When AFI conducted its original poll in 1998, the top-ranking films were "Citizen Kane," "Casablanca," "The Godfather," "Gone With the Wind" and "Lawrence of Arabia."
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