'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Wins Top Prize at ICG Publicists Awards

1:45 PM 2/26/2016

by Bryn Sandberg

Showmen of the Year awards went to FX’s John Landgraf and Open Road Film’s Tom Ortenberg.

The Hollywood Sign - H 2015
Courtesy of RexUSA

The publicity team behind Walt Disney Studios' box office smash Star Wars: The Force Awakens took home the Maxwell Weinberg Publicist Showmanship Award for best motion picture publicity campaign at the 53rd annual ICG Publicists Luncheon held Friday at the Beverly Hilton. Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox Television nabbed the equivalent TV award for its ratings hit Empire.

“It’s been these past five years growing Open Road Films that have been the love of my professional life. I could not be prouder of what we have accomplished in such a short time… There’s nothing I enjoy more than movies and bringing them to the widest possible audience,” said Ortenberg after Spotlight star Michael Keaton presented him with the honor near the end of the ceremony. Keaton credited Ortenberg with being instrumental to bringing Spotlight to the screen, saying that he “has a deep love for movies and an instinct for what works.”

Landgraf, who described himself as “shy, bookish… and suspicious by nature of all sorts of sales, marketing and publicity,” took his time on stage to thank the creators of the shows on FX Networks. “I am here today because of the brilliant showmen and creators who have consistently made me look way smarter and way more entertaining than I am,” he said as he stood alongside American Horror Story and American Crime Story’s Ryan Murphy, who called Langraf “one of the most respected visionaries in the business” when he presented him with the award.

For their part, the publicity team behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens said that in moments of unbelievable stress, they had incredible times promoting the movie. They noted that they knew they had to really focus their efforts on women, and also that consumer fatigue was a huge concern. “More was not better,” said one member of the publicity team. “We worked hard on being really disciplined since we were under intense media scrutiny and it was a tremendous challenge to keep the narrative and spoilers a secret.”

Sally Field was also on hand during the nearly three-hour-long event to present Lily Tomlin the Lifetime Achievement Award. The two have been longtime friends after meeting in the green room on the Merv Griffith Show in 1983. Holding her crystal ICG award, Tomlin joked from the podium that it “means more to me than the Oscar I don’t have.”

Other awards doled out during the luncheon include Bob Yeager Award for community service, which went to Walt Disney Studios’ Elaine La Zelle, and the Special Award of Merit, which honored lyricists and songwriters Alan & Marilyn Bergman. See below for a full list of winners:

  • Les Mason Award

    Murray Weissman, Weissman/Markovitz Communications (WINNER)
    Elaine LaZelle, Walt Disney Studios
    Sheryl Main, Unit Publicist
    Maureen O’Malley, Warner Bros. Pictures International
    Nina Turner, Buena Vista Pictures/Walt Disney Studios

  • Maxwell Weinberg Publicists Showmanship Motion Picture Award

    Walt Disney Studios for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (WINNER)
    20th Century Fox for The Martian
    Columbia Pictures for Goosebumps
    Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions for Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation
    Universal Pictures for Straight Outta Compton
    Warner Bros. Pictures for Mad Max: Fury Road

  • Maxwell Weinberg Publicists Showmanship Television Award

    20th Century Fox Television for Empire (WINNER)
    20th Century Fox Television for American Horror Story: Hotel
    20th Century Fox Television for Fresh off the Boat
    Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television for Supergirl
    CBS Television Studios for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
    Warner Bros. Television for Blindspot

  • Excellence in Unit Still Photography for Motion Pictures Award

    Barry Wetcher (WINNER)
    Jaap Buitendijk
    Murray Close
    Andrew Schwartz
    Merie Wallace

  • Excellence in Unit Still Photography for Television Award

    Chuck Hodes (WINNER)
    Richard Cartwright
    Bill Inoshita
    Neil Jacobs

  • International Media Award

    Yuko Yoshikawa, Japan (WINNER)
    Nelson Aspen, Australia
    Dan Jolin, U.K.
    Elisabeth Sereda, Austria
    Noel de Souza, India

  • Press Award

    Bryan Alexander, USA Today (WINNER)
    Jess Cagle, People Magazine and Entertainment Weekly
    Mike Fleming Jr., Deadline.com
    Jeff Jensen, Entertainment Weekly
    Rob Moynihan, TV Guide