Art Directors honor 'Country'

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UPDATED 1:40 p.m. PT Feb. 17

"No Country for Old Men" continued its winning streak Saturday night at the Art Directors Guild's 12th annual Awards for Excellence in Production Design as its production designer Jess Gonchor took home the honors for best contemporary film.

"There Will Be Blood," production design by Jack Fisk, took the prize for period film, while "The Golden Compass," production design by Dennis Gassner, scored in the fantasy film category.

Gonchor thanked the guild for acknowledging that "you just don't go into the desert and shoot something. It's so much more involved."

ADG chairman Tom Walsh kicked off the evening with a congratulatory toast to legendary art director Robert Boyle, whose credits include "North by Northwest" and "The Birds," and who is to receive an honorary Academy Award at the upcoming Oscars. Walsh also congratulated the evening's nominees, noting that an art director's job is "translating the writer's word and the director's vision."

Hosted by Harry Shearer, the awards took place at the Beverly Hilton's International Ballroom.

"I want to thank the Golden Globes people for leaving their set. Eventually it was going to be used, and here we are," quipped Shearer to hearty laughter, referencing the table centerpieces and the scenic design created for the ADG ceremony by John Janavs. "The writer's union just scored a major victory against huge multinational corporations, "Shearer said to rousing applause, "and the auto workers are using their layoff time to write spec scripts."

Veteran British production designer Stuart Craig, who has worked on all the "Harry Potter" movies, was presented with a lifetime achievement award. "This award is great -- not because it flatters the ego but because it's part of a succession process. The old ones acknowledged by the up-and-coming generation ... the process of handing down skills, knowledge and experience." Craig said.

Author Ray Bradbury, appearing onstage to a standing ovation, presented an Outstanding Contribution to Cinematic Imagery award to Ray Harryhausen, the pioneering visual effects artist whose work includes "Jason and the Argonauts," "One Million Years B.C." and "Clash of the Titans." The two are longtime personal and professional friends who bonded over their mutual love of fantasy and creatures.

Bradbury said Harryhausen loves dinosaurs and "King Kong" as much as he does. "We became best friends," Bradbury said.

Harryhausen was escorted to the stage, also to a standing ovation. "I never thought starting in my garage making fairy tales for children would lead to this," he said. "I'm grateful that our pictures seem to mean more to people today. I get many fan letters saying they prefer our type of animation with three-dimensional characters over the computer [animation]." he said to a wave of cheers. "We did it the hard way."

The ADG's 2008 Hall of Fame inductees consisted of Edward Carfagno, Stephen Grimes, Dale Hennesy, James Trittipo and Lyle Wheeler.

On the TV side, "Mad Men" won to great applause for Excellence in Production Design for an Episode of a Single Camera Television Series for the episode "Shoot," production designer Dan Bishop.
The prize for an awards show, variety, music special or nonfiction went to Janavs for an episode of the reality show "Hell's Kitchen."

The TV movie/miniseries winner was "PU 239," production designer Tom Meyer.

Awards also went to "MadTV," production designer John Sabato," for multicamera TV series, and "Budweiser: Space Station," production designer Jeremy Reed, in the commercial category.

In addition to the production designers, awards in each category also recognized the art director and assistant art director for each of the winners.
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