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Dustin Hoffman took the podium at Thursday’s Hollywood Foreign Press luncheon and shocked the crowd.
“I’m here to get a nomination,” he quipped, drawing a gasp and a laugh, as he quickly added he was just joking.
And while the stated purpose of the lunch was to award grants and scholarships worth about $1.2 million, that clearly wasn’t the only draw for Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Lawrence, Don Johnson and Ryan Kavanaugh, among the other stars, filmmakers, studio heads, publicists and non-profit executives who packed a Beverly Hills Hotel ballroom Thursday.
Those grants do help a range of organizations from the American Cinematheque to the American Film Institute as well as providing support and scholarships for Cal State Los Angeles and the University of North Carolina.
However, the HFPA’s lunch is the unofficial kickoff for the Hollywood movie and television awards season that culminates with the Academy Awards — particularly the Association’s Golden Globe Awards, an early indicator of likely candidates for industry honors.
“The Hollywood Foreign Press has been around and established so long as the blueprint or foundation for a lot of the awards ceremonies that happen in Hollywood,” Savages star John Travolta told THR.
He agreed that it also serves as a kind of kickoff for the awards season. “Interestingly enough, it does start this early,” said Travolta. “In earlier years, it used to start much later, like in November, at least when I started out. Now it actually starts in August.”
The Weinstein Co. co-CEO Harvey Weinstein maintained that he had just come to the luncheon “to see my friends and support the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the nice things they do for charity,” he told THR. As for the awards season, Weinstein insisted, “We’re a long way off.”
Jack Black had a twinkle in his eye as he denied he was there to get awards attention for his upcoming movie Gulliver’s Travels. “It has been said (that stars show up for awards attention),” said Black. “I don’t know what you are talking about. But I think maybe it makes sense. There’s nothing like a little delicious buzz, right beneath your haunches.”
Some clearly were there eager to show support for charities and nonprofits that were their passion. Spielberg, who more than two decades ago founded The Film Foundation with George Lucas and Martin Scorsese to preserve the celluloid history of film, said in the era of digital, “film “is in a race against the clock.”
Famous as one of the last directors in Hollywood who insists on shooting all his live-action movies on film – and who has the clout to make that decision a reality – Spielberg said he plans to continue doing just that: “I will remain loyal to this art until the last lab closes,” he said.
Other presenters on hand included Kelsey Grammer, Christina Hendricks, Carla Gugino, Jordana Brewster, Josh Henderson, Ryan Guzman and Kathryn McCormick.
Bradley Cooper got the program started with a joke that got a grumbling chuckle: “These grants are as diverse as the people sitting in this audience today.” When the laughter died down he added, “That’s a joke.”
The annual event also serves as the installation luncheon for the HFPA’s officers. Dr. Aida Takla O’Reilly, reelected to a second consecutive term as president, introduced this years other officers – Jorge Camara as vp, Serge Rakhlin as executive secretary and Ali Sar once again as treasurer. She also named the new board: Chairman Ruben Nepales, Helen Hoehne, Yukiko Nakajima, Yoram Kahana, Lorenzo Soria and alternate Dierk Sindermann.
O’Reilly noted that at the next Golden Globes the HFPA will celebrate its 70th year of presenting the honors in movies, TV and music. However, that wasn’t the only thing that made the day something she won’t soon forget.
“This is a memorable day for me,” said O’Reilly. “This is the day Steven Spielberg pulled my scarf out of the soup and wiped it off for me.”
WHO GOT THE 2012 HFPA GRANTS?
HIGHER EDUCATION FELLOWSHIPS & INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT
- American Film Institute- $30,000.00 Fellowships
- California Institute for the Arts (CalArts)- $60,000.00 Fellowships
- Cal State Fullerton Philanthropic Foundation- $10,000.00 Capstone film project
- Cal State Long Beach- $50,000.00 Film production costs for student films
- Cal State Los Angeles- $50,000.00 Fellowships
- Cal State Northridge- $50,000.00 Fellowships
- Columbia University- $50,000.00 Fellowships
- Los Angeles City College- $15,000.00 Fellowships
- Loyola Marymount University- $15,000.00 Fellowships
- New York University- $40,000.00 Fellowships
- University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)- $40,000.00 Fellowships
- University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)- $25,000.00 Festival of New Creative Work
- University of North Carolina- $10,000.00 Fellowships
PROFESSIONAL TRAINING & MENTORING
- Coalition of Asian Pacific’s in Entertainment (CAPE)- $11,000.00 Writers’ Awards
- Film Independent, Project: Involve- $35,000.00 General support
- Independent Filmmaker Project- $15,000.00 General support for Independent Filmmaker Labs
- International Documentary Association- $10,000.00 General support for Doc U
- National Association of Latino Independent Producers- $15,000.00 Expenses for Latino Producers Academy mentors
- Streetlights- $7,500.00 Mentors for Powerhouse Filmmakers Lab
- Sundance Institute- $50,000.00 General funding for career advancement program
- Visual Communications- $7,000.00 Asian-American film & TV professionals conference
PRE-PROFESSIONAL TRAINING & EDUCATION
- California State Summer School Arts – $20,000.00 Scholarships
- Ghetto Film School- $20,000.00 General support
- Inner-City Arts- $25,000.00 General support
- Inner City Filmmakers- $25,000.00 General support for job placement program
- Los Angeles County High School for the Arts Foundation- $20,000.00 Screenwriting classes & equipment repair
PRESERVE THE CULTURE & HISTORY OF FILM
- The Film Foundation, Inc- $250,000.00 Preservation of two films
- Los Angeles Conservancy- $35,000.00 General support for Last Remaining Seats
- Outfest (UCLA LGBT project)- $30,000.00 General support for expansion of Legacy Project
- University of California, Berkeley, Pacific Film Archive- $15,000.00Support for guest filmmaker travel
PROMOTE CULTURAL EXCHANGE THROUGH FILM
- American Cinematheque- $40,000.00 Golden Globe foreign language nominee’s seminar
- FilmAid International- $50,000.00 Screenings & filmmaker training in Kenyan refugee camps
- Latin American Cinemateca of Los Angeles- $10,000.00 Screenings at various festivals
- Levantine Cultural Center- $17,500.00 General support of monthly Middle Eastern film series
- Ensemble Studio Theatre- $15,000.00 General support for new play development
- Gingold Theatre Group/Shaw Festival- $5,000.00 General support for Shaw productions
- Lollipop Theater Network- $15,000.00 Film screenings for children inSoCal & NY hospitals
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art- $35,000.00 Support for Film Independent/ LACMA Film Program
- Young Musicians Foundation- $10,000.00 General support for youth orchestra
- Pablove Foundation- $5,000.00 Support for photo project for sick kids
- Young Storytellers Foundation – $5,000.00 Storytelling, writing & play production for inner-city kids
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