Stars align for Brit kudos

Britannia Awards honors veteran thesp

Anthony Hopkins appeared on the red carpet and Elizabeth Taylor was there in a wheelchair, but not Tom Cruise or Katie Holmes.

Crushing the hopes of photogs waiting at the BevHilton for Thursday’s Britannia Awards, Cruise, in his first public outing after hiring publicist Paul Bloch, arrived just in time for dinner.

Official word was that his shooting on Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible 3” kept him from the carpet.

There was another shift in scheduling. Taylor was to receive her award after dinner, but it was moved to pre-dinner. After Jon Voight made the first presentation to Ronald Neame, Shirley MacLaine explained, “The eagle has landed,” and then presented the Britannia to Taylor.

Taylor thanked BAFTA/L.A., saying, “It’s been many years since I’ve considered myself a serious actress. The thing I am most proud of in my life, other than my children, is that I have been able to use my fame to shift the spotlight to the AIDS crisis.”

Johnny Depp did the honors for helmer Michael Newell, and Hopkins did the same for Cruise.

While nearly all the presenters proudly touted their long relationships with the honorees, Hopkins didn’t.

Doing an impersonation of Cruise, Hopkins repeatedly said he didn’t know the American except for a brief time when they were making the first two “Mission: Impossible” pics.

Cruise praised Hopkins’ impersonation and, in accepting the Stanley Kubrick Award, spoke of his relationship with the late helmer.

“When you say the word legend, that’s one of the many things synonymous with Stanley Kubrick.”

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