LAS VEGAS — ShoWest wrapped its weeklong celebration of the business of show business with one final parade of celebs, and moviegoers’ designation of “The Rock” as their favorite pic of the year.
Director Michael Bay joined producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Buena Vista Pictures Distribution general sales manager Chuck Viane onstage to accept the statuette, which Bay noted “looked like an Oscar.” Bruckheimer thanked Walt Disney Co. execs and pic’s stars Nicolas Cage, Sean Connery and Ed Harris for their work.
Bay also praised writers “credited and uncredited,” a reference to Jonathan Hensleigh, who did a major rewrite on the film; and paid tribute to his late partner, Don Simpson.
Setting the tone
Sinbad capably hosted the Thursday event, which was beamed live for the first time on TNT, with sole sponsorship by Coca-Cola. He established the evening’s theme, that it was great to be able to come to Las Vegas and watch so many Hollywood execs and stars “sucking up” to each other and to exhibitors.
He also pointed out that it was a great time for theater owners to get together and “swap popcorn recipes” and ponder whether they “might be able to get $9 for a Snickers bar.”
Unlike most of the week’s events that preceded it, the show ran only about 20 minutes over its allotted two hours, but all awards except for the favorite film had already been announced.
The show did offer Disney, which had not shown a product reel during the regular convention, a chance to show clips of its upcoming films, including “Hercules” and “Con Air.”
20th Century Fox, which had devoted its sponsored evening Tuesday wholly to “Anastasia,” got some exposure for “Volcano,” “Out to Sea,” “Speed 2: Cruise Control,” “Alien Resurrection” and “Firestorm.”
Debbie Reynolds, whom Sinbad introduced as “the mother of all mothers,” quipped that daughter Carrie Fisher was “so jealous of my success this year that she got George Lucas to re-release ‘Star Wars.’ ”
Reynolds presented the screenwriter of the year award to “Mother” scribes Albert Brooks and Monica Johnson, who extolled the joys of “Jujubees, popcorn and making out in the balcony.”Collaborative clips for the pair included “Real Life,” “Modern Romance,” “Lost in America” and “Mother.”
ShoWest humanitarian of the year Arnold Schwarzenegger then proceeded to detail how much he had sucked up to Joel Schumacher, the ShoWest director of the year.
Gracious and self-effacing, Schumacher recalled growing up poor in New York City near the Sunnyside movie palace, where pain and loneliness disappeared in that “magic in the darkness.”
Tomorrow for Danes
Danny DeVito, who was something of a common thread throughout the week at various the studio presentations, bestowed the female star of tomorrow nod on Claire Danes. Danes, whose clips included Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Rainmaker” for Paramount, as well as past accomplishments “Romeo and Juliet,” “Little Women” and “To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday,” thanked Sony and Fox and the team behind “My So-Called Life” and even recognized her former percentery Writers & Artists as well as her new handlers at Creative Artists Agency.
Past young star of the year Mara Wilson handed this year’s nod to Alex Linz (“One Fine Day”), who had trouble keeping up with the TelePrompTer, but still managed to thank everyone — except his agent.
Cuba Gooding Jr., introduced by his “Jerry Maguire co-star Bonnie Hunt, tripped, but made a graceful recovery on his way to the lectern, and remarked of his supporting actor statuette, “This is heavy.” He thanked exhibs “for supporting the ones that didn’t make any money.” Clips included “Old Friends,” due out late this year from Sony, as well as “Boyz N the Hood” and “A Few Good Men.”
Producer Ed Zwick, introducing male star of the year Denzel Washington, explained something he learned from a veteran grip about what distinguishes a true star: “They carry their own lights,” inhabiting their characters “for the joy of it.”
The first time he understood what the grip had meant, he said, was watching Washington in action in “Glory.”
Accepting the award, Washington emphasized that he first wanted to thank God for his success, as well as his family and other supporters. Clips included “A Soldier’s Story,” “Philadelphia,” “Malcom X” and “Devil in a Blue Dress.”
Will Smith, accepting his recognition for international box office achievement, thanked the aliens in “Independence Day,” his mangers and son Trey, who told him he should take the part. Barry Sonnenfeld, who directed Smith in another alien pic, “Men in Black,” presented the award.
Supporting actress of the year Elizabeth Hurley, who appeared in the current “On Dangerous Ground” and produced “Extreme Measures,” was a little unnerved when a piece of her statuette broke off. It was retrieved by presenter and “Austin Powers” co-star Mike Myers.
Long on promise
Scott Glenn, presenting the male star of tomorrow nod to Howie Long, praised the “Broken Arrow” debuter as a real athlete, exactly the kind of guy you want beside you in a tough action picture like their “Firestorm” for director Dean Semler.
Long said he “always wanted to be Charlton Heston in ‘El Cid’ and to fall in love with Sophia Loren.”Winona Ryder, accepting her actress of the year nod from “Alien Resurrection” co-star Sigourney Weaver, said she was grateful to have been in three films this year, including “The Crucible” and “Looking for Richard.” She said she truly appreciated the exhibition side of the biz, because she had more or less grown up in a movie theater.
At the age of 3, she said, she saw what she remembered as her first film, “Fantasia,” and ran up and hurled herself into the screen. “I guess I’ve been trying to do that ever since.”
Producer of the year Arnon Milchan, whose breadth of material includes “Pretty Woman,” “Brazil,” “The Client,” “Free Willy,” “Six Degrees of Separation,” “Natural Born Killers” and “JFK,” was praised by presenter Kim Basinger as a filmmaker who embraces controversy.
Upon reaching the lectern, Milchan — dressed in black down to his Pumas, a company in which he’s an investor — insisted that Warner Bros. president of distribution Barry Reardon join him.
Reardon said that “in almost 30 years in this business, I never worked with a man who cared more” about what he does than Milchan.
Exhibs seemed to think this year’s confab had run slightly more smoothly that last year’s. One factor was ShoWest president Dan Wheatcroft’s decision to move the awards show from the Bally’s ballroom to the larger MGM Grand Garden arena.
Wheatcroft also said the org kept registration at 3,400 for each event, with 2,700 people watching from the main ballroom and 700 others assembled in a room to the side, watching on closed-circuit TV.
Although most attendees aren’t aboard for the full convention, he said, attendance overall was about 9,000, same as the previous two years, to answer concerns that ShoWest was becoming too large to handle.
Wrap party sponsor Coca-Cola is the main supplier of fountain drinks at the concession stands in the nation’s theaters, so the soft drink giant can be a direct beneficiary of increased attendance.
Steve Koonin, VP of marketing activation for the Coca-Cola Co., noted that both “Independence Day” and “The Lion King” were launched at ShoWest. He said that the venue and the final night awards show “is the ultimate insider’s event. This is the only show that looks forward and backward. This is a great promotional vehicle to get people to get up and go see the films.”