Big picture for ShoWest honorees

Stars, filmmakers express their love for movie theaters

Exhibitors paid tribute to stars and filmmakers at ShoWest's final night awards and banquet dinner, and the honorees returned the love by expressing their commitment to the theatrical experience.

Quentin Tarantino, who shared the award for director of the year with Robert Rodriguez, with whom he partnered to make the upcoming double-feature "Grind-house," put it most directly Thursday night: "Together, we're gonna get people off the fucking couch, all right, and into the seats to have a theatrical experience that is going to be worth something. I'm not kissing your guys' ass. I'm actually thanking you for fighting the good fight."

Rodriguez agreed: "We are showmen, and so are you. Your showmanship is what makes us make movies for the big screen. Someone asked me coming in if I watched movies on an iPod. I said very politely, 'Are you fucking kidding me? Are you out of your fucking mind?' "

Named female star of the year, Kirsten Dunst of "Marie Antoinette" and the upcoming "Spider-Man 3," was nearly reduced to tears as she spoke of her love for going to movie theaters.

Producer of the year Jerry Weintraub, who will be represented onscreen in the summer by "Ocean's Thirteen" and "Nancy Drew," urged theater owners "to build more and more multiplexes."

Adam Sandler, who has a long history of promoting his films at ShoWest, made a surprise appearance to present the male star of the year award to Don Cheadle, with whom he co-stars in the post-Sept. 11 drama "Reign Over Me," which opens Friday.The two engaged in some comic moments before Cheadle got serious, adding, "I, too, love sitting in a darkened theater."

Steve Carell, who headlines the upcoming "Evan Almighty," took a different tack. Accepting the award as comedy star of the year, he earned laughs by reading, with a straight face, Roberto Benigni's mixed-metaphor-filled Oscar acceptance speech delivered when he was named best actor for "Life Is Beautiful" in 1999. "I am so happy that every organ in my body is moving in a very bad way," Carell intoned.

Screenwriter of the year Bruce Joel Rubin, whose "The Last Mimzy" opens Friday,offered the most succinct acceptance. After staring out at the crowded ballroom in the Paris hotel, he said simply, "Thank you," and then walked offstage.

Freddy Rodriguez and Rosario Dawson, who both appear in the upcoming "Grindhouse," were named supporting actor and supporting actress of the year, respectively.

Shia LaBeouf, who in short order is starring in "Disturbia" and "Transformers" and who voices the lead character in the animated "Surf's Up," was recognized as male star of tomorrow, while Emma Roberts, who plays the title character in "Nancy Drew," was honored as female star of tomorrow.

As if to remind attendees of the track record for that award, the program included a videotaped appearance by "Dreamgirls" star Jennifer Hudson, last year's winner as female star of tomorrow, who used the opportunity to introduce her ShoWest award to her Oscar.

Chris Miller and Raman Hui, who co-directed the upcoming "Shrek the Third," took the prize as animation directors of the year.

Raul B. Fernandez and Josh Greenbaum, both from the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, won the Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker's Award for their short commercial titled "Morning Routine," which will play in theaters nationwide.

Coca-Cola and USA Today also said that "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," the top-grossing film of 2006, had been chosen Favorite Movie of the Year in a reader's poll of the top 10-grossing films of 2006.

Nancy O'Dell and Billy Bush, the "Access Hollywood" anchors, emceed the event, which Coca-Cola sponsored for the 33rd year in a row.

ShoWest is managed by Nielsen Business Media, parent company of The Hollywood Reporter.