American Cinematheque honors Matt Damon

Actor gets good-natured jabs from Ben Affleck, Jimmy Kimmel

Setting aside the usual flowery testimonials that usually bloom at industry tributes, the 2010 American Cinematheque Award, presented to Matt Damon at a dinner at the Beverly Hilton, played more like an extended version of "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"

Kimmel and Damon have been engaged in a long-running mock feud, and it continued throughout the evening, which will be broadcast on ABC at a date to be announced.

Kimmel kicked off the proceedings Saturday, wandering onstage ready to toast Matt Dillon only to learn Damon was the evening's honoree. "I don't have much to say about Matt Damon, just as he didn't have much to say in 'Ocean's Eleven,' 'Twelve' and 'Thirteen,' " Kimmel said, shrugging.

Videos from Kimmel's show -- Kimmel sidekick Guillermo Rodriguez taking over Damon's signature role of Jason Bourne, Damon drumming Kimmel out of the Handsome Men's Club -- were interspersed among clips from Damon's films. Sarah Silverman appeared to introduce her video, "I'm F***ing Matt Damon." And at evening's end, Kimmel returned to hustle Damon off the stage.

Other members of Damon's extended circle of friends and colleagues joined in the hazing. Casey Affleck unveiled a photoshopped picture that purported to show his brother Ben and Damon hanging out naked together. Jennifer Garner referred to the two pals as "my darling husband and my husband's darling husband."

George Clooney, appearing via video, wore a hospital gown and pretended to be undergoing a prostate exam as a grimaced through a few words of praise for Damon.

Even Clint Eastwood, who directed Damon in "Invictus" and the upcoming "Hereafter" got into the act, relating an anecdote that when Damon adopted an Afrikaans accent for one of his lines as rugby captain Francois Pienaar -- "Look into my eyes. This is our destiny!" -- some of the native speakers thought he was saying "Look into my ass."

The tribute grew serious momentarily when, in a taped message, President Clinton lauded Damon's humanitarian efforts like his work for the organization Water.org. But he immediately was followed by a taped appearance by Ben Stiller, who punctured that balloon by saying of Damon's charity work: "You went out and claimed water. You don't screw around. That's like an element!"

Finally called upon to present the award, Ben Affleck wasn't ready to cede all the spotlight to his "Good Will Hunting" co-writer. "I kind of started out at the same time as the guy, so this is a special night for me, too," he joked.

Damon got in a few jabs in return as he thanked the night's participants, who included Robin Williams, Don Cheadle, Paul Greengrass, Charlize Theron and Greg Kinnear.

Since the boxoffice failure of Universal's "Green Zone," his current movie, has become a running joke, Damon offered the studio the consolation that he and Affleck "saved you guys at Universal a whole boatload of money last month because we signed our overall deal with Warner Bros."

As a curtain-raiser to the main event, American Cinematheque chairman Rick Nicita presented the organization's Sydney Pollack Award to Tom Luddy, co-founder and co-director of the Telluride Film Festival, who paid tribute to the Cinematheque's late founder Gary Essert, "who created something lasting and marvelous."

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