Awardees fell into the movie biz and never left it

Salah M. Hassanein Humanitarian Award
Sonny D. Gourley
President, AMC Entertainment
Sonny D. Gourley got involved in charity at the start of his exhibition career in Philadelphia, and still makes time for it as AMC Entertainment’s president of film. Gourley serves on the advisory board of Variety–the Children’s Charity of Southern California–Tent 25 in Los Angeles and the board of the Kansas City branch; he’s also been involved with charities such as the Will Rogers Institute, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Special Olympics, and Project Open Hand. “It’s just rewarding to help people — especially kids,” Gourley says. For this, he will accept ShowEast’s Salah M. Hassanein Humanitarian Award.

Show E Award
Stewart Harnell
CEO, Cinema Concepts
Stewart Harnell has been selected for the Show E Award, an honor for unequaled achievements, accomplishments and dedication to the industry. The CEO of Atlanta-based Cinema Concepts began his career in 1961 as a booker-salesman for Natl. Screen Service and founded his film and post-production facility in 1979. At Cinema Concepts, he’s been busy creating 3D logos and trailers so companies around the world can show off stereoscopic entertainment in theaters. “Everybody we talk to wants it,” Harnell says. His business, which started in a 200-square-foot room, now resides in a 40,000-square-foot facility.

Al Shapiro Distinguished Service Award
Kelly O’Connor
Sr. VP, Exhibitor and Marketing Services, Warner Bros.
Warner distribution vet Kelly O’Connor, recipient of the Al Shapiro Distinguished Service Award, has worked for the studio for two decades and is still a newcomer compared with some of her peers. “You don’t have a lot of turnover in exhibition and distribution,” O’Connor says. “People in this segment of the business don’t leave.” O’Connor helped create and shape Warners’ domestic exhibitor services department, and is also active in charity. She is being honored for her dedication, care and concern for the betterment of the motion picture industry.

International Achievement Award in Exhibition
Mike Moraskie
Head Film Buyer, Caribbean Cinemas
Mike Moraskie, recipient of the Intl. Achievement kudo, grew up with Variety in the house, following his father into distribution after a stint at New World Pictures. He began in Puerto Rico for Warners and switched to exhibition in 1997, helping Mexico’s Cinepolis grow from 500 screens to 2,050. In August, he moved back to Puerto Rico to serve as head film buyer for Caribbean Cinemas. Part of the challenge: “To grow this business the way we did in Mexico,” Moraskie says.

International Achievement Award in Distribution
Jose ‘Pepe’ Victoria
UIP
Jose “Pepe” Victoria, UIP’s longtime g.m. in Panama, is being saluted for outstanding achievement in international distribution. The Panama native has worked for a number of studios in the region: He began his career with United Artists before moving to Fox and then UIP Panama. He served a stint as home entertainment g.m. for Warner Bros., Paramount and Universal before returning to the UIP fold in Peru, where he then served for six years. He assumed his current duties in 1997.

Anti-Piracy Latin American Gov’t Leadership Award
Jorge Amigo
Director General, Mexican Industrial Property Institute
Jorge Amigo was appointed director general of the Mexican Industrial Property Institute with its start in 1993 and has been policing trademarks ever since. His agency has more than 1,000 employees, most based in its Mexico City headquarters. He is being saluted with the Anti-Piracy Latin America Government Leadership Award.

ShowEast Hall of Fame
MaryAnn Anderson
MaryAnn Anderson is being inducted into the ShowEast Hall of Fame in recognition of 20 years running the National Assn. of Theater Owners. Anderson, formerly Grasso, joined the org in 1988 as its first new exec director in more than three decades and became VP in 1996, stepping down to consult 11 years later. “It was a dream job,” Anderson says. “Nothing makes me more proud than reinvigorating NATO.” Before NATO, Anderson headed Warner Research Collection for 11 years and spent several years at CBS. She and her husband Wayne were named ShoWester 2007 — the first time a couple jointly received the honor.

ShowEast Hall of Fame
Robert E. Capps Jr.
The late Robert E. Capps Jr. worked both sides of the distribution fence during more than three decades in the film biz. Known as Bob, he began his career at MGM, joining TriStar Pictures as senior VP and general sales manager in 1986. Nine years later, he moved to Denver, where he served as senior VP and head film buyer for United Artists Theaters, and helped expand the circuit worldwide. He later served as VP of acquisitions and exhibition for Century Theaters. Capps died late last year.

ShowEast Hall of Fame
Wayne Lewellen
The late Wayne Lewellen spent 33 years at Paramount, where he helped shape the modern studio distribution system. A native Texan, he began his career in 1965 for Warner Bros. in Dallas, joining Paramount after a four-year stint with Columbia Pictures. He was named prexy of distribution in 1986 and added foreign distribution in 1993, heading worldwide distribution until the studio acquired DreamWorks in 2005. Lewellen, who died of cancer earlier this year, was awarded the Show E Award in 1998.

ShowEast Hall of Fame
Mike Mihalich
Mike Mihalich fell into the exhibition biz after playing football at Arizona State, and he never left. He went out on his own after 13 years, founding Michigan-based MJR Theaters in 1980. Over the years, Mihalich has prided himself on leading, rather than following: He was the first in his area, for example, to offer stadium seating. “I think you have to keep it modern,” he says. His chain has seven theaters and 700 employees. “Twenty-nine years later, I’ve got a strong group,” Mihalich says. “It’s not easy to do.”

ShowEast Hall of Fame
Bill Towey
Bill Towey caught the exhibition bug at 15, when he got a job cleaning a theater before school. He moved up to usher, then entered the ABC Paramount management training program. The Redstone family hired him in 1969, and he spent his career with their org, rising to senior VP of operations before retiring a few months ago. Having witnessed the coming of 3D twice, CinemaScope, 70mm and the development of the multiplex, he calls the latest advancements in exhibition “the most promising developments in the industry since the advent of color and sound.”

ShowEast Hall of Fame
Jerry Brand
Jerry Brand has worked in the exhibition biz for 40 years, entering it soon after he served in Vietnam. Born and raised in Seattle, he started in the local office of Paramount and soon shifted to Fox. He left his native state in 1975 to serve as film buyer for United Theaters in Dallas and eventually started Brand Booking in the Lone Star State. He also served as film buyer for Wehrenberg Theaters in St. Louis and Cobb Theaters in Atlanta, moving the latter’s booking office to Dallas. He was film buyer for Cinemark Theaters from 1996 to 2000 and then hung out his own shingle.

Kodak Award
This year’s ranks do not include a Kodak Award recipient. Convention organizers had an honoree lined up but ran into scheduling conflicts at the last minute. This is the first time the honor will not be bestowed at the confab.

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