Jerry Bruckheimer

The American Cinematheque will honor Jerry Bruckheimer at its annual gala Dec. 12 at the Beverly Hilton.

Bruckheimer is their first producer honored by the org in its 27 years, even though it’s saluted such hyphenates as Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard and Steven Spielberg. In making the announcement, the org said Bruckheimer’s films have earned $16 billion at the box office and in ancillaries. In addition, he had 10 series on the networks during the 2005-06 season. They include the longrunning “CSI” franchise and “The Amazing Race.” This season includes the CBS “Hostages.”

But it’s been an eventful few months for him. Amid much media attention, his “Lone Ranger” fired blanks at the box office, and he and Disney recently announced a 2014 end to his longstanding first-look deal at the studio, though he will continue to work there on “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “National Treasure” followups. When he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this summer, Disney pointed out that he has produced 27 movies for them that have grossed $8.6 billion.

The Cinematheque salutes people in the midst of their careers, rather than focusing on a person whose professional peaks are long past. Since 2006, the honorees have been George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Samuel Jackson, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr. and last year’s honoree, Ben Stiller.

The annual salute is a gala fund-raiser for the org and its many activities. In the past, the coffers have been also filled by a TV deal, though the events of the past two years were not televised.

The org and its honoree is an anomaly during kudos season. At this time of year, almost every honor seems to be a promotional tool to further a contender’s Oscar chances. This is true for most film festival “salutes,” for lifetime achievement awards from various organizations, and from film retrospectives at museums or local multiplexes. In 99% of the cases, the flurry of attention is a reminder of how this year’s work is just one more milestone of a person who deserves attention (especially Oscar attention).

But the Cinematheque isn’t like that. The org says it honors “an extraordinary artist in the entertainment industry who is fully engaged in his or her work and is committed to making a significant contribution to the art of the motion picture.”

Since 1986, when Eddie Murphy was the first recipient, the list has included Tom Cruise, Jodie Foster, Denzel Washington and Nicole Kidman

The American Cinematheque was created in 1981 as an independent non-profit, dedicated to the public presentation of films. Its two Southern California bases are the Egyptian in Hollywood and the Aero in Santa Monica. Its website includes the slogan “Movies on the big screen as they were meant to be seen.”

It began screenings in 1987 and presents festivals and retrospectives of film and TV classics as well as less heralded fare, often with discussions tied to the screenings.

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