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The Hollywood Film Awards Get Ready for Their Close-Up

7:00 AM PST 10/18/2013 by Gregg Kilday
Invision/AP
Kerry Washington (left) and Amy Adams met on the red carpet at 2012’s Hollywood Film Awards, where Adams took the supporting actress trophy for "The Master."

The gala might lack suspense -- Matthew McConaughey and Sandra Bullock are the big winners. So the big question is how quickly Dick Clark Productions can turn it into a broadcast.

This story first appeared in the Oct. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Are the Hollywood Film Awards ready for prime­time?

That will be one of the questions hovering over the annual awards gala when it rolls out its red carpet Oct. 21 at the Beverly Hilton. The awards handicappers certainly will be watching to see how Matthew McConaughey handles the spotlight as he accepts best actor honors for Dallas Buyers Club and whether Sandra Bullock's bid for a second best actress Oscar, for her work in Gravity, is gathering momentum.

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But behind the scenes, executives from Dick Clark Productions also will focus on the event itself, assessing its viability as a broadcast entry that could join the ranks of other shows the company produces such as NBC's Golden Globe Awards and ABC's American Music Awards.

In August, DCP (which like The Hollywood Reporter is owned by affiliates of Guggenheim Partners) announced that it had invested an undisclosed sum in the Hollywood Film Awards that Carlos de Abreu created in 1997. "This is an unbelievable event with A-plus talent," Mike Mahan, president of Dick Clark Media, said at the time, adding, "While we have no plans to do TV this year, it's certainly something we are going to consider."

De Abreu, who serves as the show's executive producer, likes to boast that films and talent recognized at the Hollywood Film Awards during the past 10 years have gone on to earn 96 Oscar nominations and 34 Oscars. And he underscores that "the goal for future years is to broadcast" the gala that currently serves as something of an informal curtain-raiser for four months of nonstop Oscar campaigning.

DCP execs declined to discuss their involvement in this year's show. But, according to de Abreu, RAC Clark, Dick Clark's son, has stepped in as producer, bringing with him a production staff that is overseeing everything from the menu to the set.

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"They have been involved in the selection process; they are part of our advisory committee," de Abreu says of DCP's role in choosing this year's honorees. "Plus, they are supporting us with assets they have put in place for everything from marketing to production values. The show will be a better show because they have the know-how."

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The Hollywood Film Festival Aims to Live Up to Its Name

Originally, Carlos de Arbreu created the Hollywood Film Awards as a companion event to the Hollywood Film Festival. But though he successfully promoted the self-congratulatory awards into a regular slot on the movie awards calendar, the festival itself has had a tougher time gaining traction. Sandwiched as it is between September's Toronto Film Festival and January's Sundance -- not to mention June's Los Angeles Film Festival and AFI Fest, which kicks off Nov. 7 -- the HFF has found carving out an identity for itself a challenge.

This year, the fest, which now is run entirely separately from the Hollywood Film Awards, is trying a new tack. De Abreu has recruited Jon Fitzgerald, a seasoned festival hand and one of the co-founders of Sundance alternative Slamdance, to serve as executive director of the fest's 17th edition, which will take over three auditoriums at the ArcLight in Hollywood beginning Oct. 18 to screen 25 films over three days.

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"We're more of a boutique festival," says Fitzgerald, downplaying the challenge of competing with the biggies. "One concept we decided to focus on is celebrating Hollywood. There were a number of movies submitted that either reference Hollywood or connect to performance and the inspiration of chasing your dreams." They include Jill D'Agnenica's Life Inside Out, the story of a mother who connects with her teenage son once she rediscovers her love of music, and Daniel Yost's A Star for Rose, starring Debbie Allen, the tale of three homeless people who meet up on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. "Not only are many of the filmmakers local, most of these films likely won't have a traditional theatrical release," says Fitzgerald. "So it's great for these filmmakers to see their movies here on a big screen."

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