Cameron wins Darryl F. Zanuck award

“Titanic’s” James Cameron, Jon Landau and Rae Sanchini took home the Darryl F. Zanuck Theatrical Motion Picture Producer of the Year Award, bestowed at the Producers Guild of America’s awards gala Tuesday at the Beverly Hilton.

“Someone said earlier that producing was about being on time and on budget,” said Cameron, whose film cost more than $200 million to make. “I guess that’s not written in stone.”

He said also that “a thousand hands along with ours” had been responsible for creating “Titanic,” and he wanted to thank all of them. Cameron complimented Fox and Paramount for having “the huevos to make a costume drama of over three hours” in length. “We’re proud that running time is not really a factor any more,” he said.

The award was presented by Gloria Stuart, whose role in “Titanic” was central to the film’s theme of remembrance and lost love.

“Titanic” beat “Amistad,” “As Good as It Gets,” “Good Will Hunting” and “L.A. Confidential.”

The Norman Felton Award for non-episodic television went to “Miss Evers’ Boys.” Co-producer Kip Konwiser looked out at the audience, many of them older and more established producers, and said, “Does this mean we can call you now?”

Competitors in the category were “In the Gloaming,” “Mandela and deKlerk,” “12 Angry Men” and “George Wallace.”

The episodic TV award was picked up by “Biography,” which took the prize from “The Larry Sanders Show,” “Homicide: Life on the Street,” “Nothing Sacred” and “The X-Files.”

Robert A. Daly and Terry Semel, Warner Bros.’ chairmen and co-CEOs, received the PGA Milestone Award from Dustin Hoffman, who joked that the two “formed a partnership and, in the tradition of Warner Bros., refused to speak to each other for many years.”

Garry Marshall was given the PGA’s David Susskind Lifetime Achievement Award for TV by Tony Danza, while Clint Eastwood received the David O. Selznick lifetime award for film from past winner Walter Mirisch. Eastwood, never a man for verbosity, largely confined his remarks to saying he had “strong opinions” on the proliferation of producers’ credits.’

PGA president Leonard B. Stern echoed the theme. “If we’d invited all those who claim to be a producer,” he said, “we could have filled the Rose Bowl.”

When James Woods took the stage to induct two films into the guild’s Hall of Fame — “The Sting” and “The Graduate” — he found himself without his glasses and unable to read the teleprompter at the far end of the ballroom.

A snap of his fingers brought a scurrying creature carrying his glasses: Jill, better known as Verdell, Jack Nicholson’s canine nemesis in “As Good As It Gets.”

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