Institute praises best of TV, film

Unique among kudo presentations, at the AFI Awards the work really does speak for itself.

At Friday’s Four Seasons luncheon (almost an exact replica of the old version of Premiere’s Women in Hollywood lunch, except the male-to-female ratio is reversed, there were almost no speeches.

The event began with a breathtaking sequence of clips beginning in 1906 and featuring films from 1916, 1926, 1936, etc., ending in 2006. AFI prexy Jean Picker Firstenberg then began her remarks with: “Relax. We haven’t gathered you in competition. You’re here to be appreciated.” (And her entire speech wasn’t much longer than that.)

Rich Frank briefly intro’d each clip from the honored TV shows: “Battlestar: Galactica,” “Dexter,” “Elizabeth I,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Heroes,” “The Office,” South Park,” “24,” “The West Wing” and “The Wire.”

Just as concisely, Michael Apted did the same with each film: “Babel,” “Borat,” “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Dreamgirls,” “Half Nelson,” “Happy Feet,” “Inside Man,” “Letters From Iwo Jima,” “Little Miss Sunshine” and “United 93.”

There was a heartfelt toast to the late Robert Altman from Helen Mirren. Then the 250 guests, who included Clint Eastwood, Alan Horn, Tom Rothman, Jim Gianopulos, Brad Grey, Stacey Snider, David Simon, Spike Lee, Ron Meyer, Bob Daly and Sacha Baron Cohen (deep in conversation with Steven Spielberg after lunch), were out the door by 2 p.m.

As they exited, someone mentioned how this had been “a fairly painless award show.” The studio exec replied: “Well, it’s the only one that will be.”

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