The timing was different from past years, but the goals remained the same for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its guests: the organization handed out $1.9 million in grants Thursday, while many in Hollywood used the event as an opportunity for awards schmoozing.
Channing Tatum, Morgan Freeman, Sofia Vergara and Minnie Driver were among the stars who got laughs with their ad libs, but mostly the emphasis was on fast efficiency. In one hour, more than 20 stars, including Robert Pattinson, Chris Evans, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette and Kerry Washington announced donations to nearly 50 non-profit organizations and scholarship programs.
The HFPA’s Grants Banquet, held at the BevHilton Thursday night, followed the tradition of formally introducing the HFPA slate of officers, who were elected two months ago. The event was switched to the evening, rather than the usual luncheon, so that the 400 industry guests could be less distracted by emails, texts and the urge to return to work.
The Golden Globes honor film and TV, and the evening featured reps from both media. The actors generally bypassed any banter, just presenting the facts, though the teleprompter was a challenge for some. Freeman thanked Martin Scorsese and the Film Foundation for the grant; then he paused and corrected himself, that the check was TO the Foundation, not from it. But even with a flub, he seemed poised and commanding. Driver also fluffed a line, then got a big laugh as she deadpanned, “I’m not gonna get the job, am I?”
James Marsden joked that he’s from Oklahoma, but he wanted to pay tribute to Canada for hosting “every movie I’ve ever done.” Pattinson and Redmayne talked about the irony of two Brits accepting on behalf of the American Film Institute, with Pattinson saying they were invited because people think English accents add “weight and clarity.”
Kristen Bell sang “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” from “Frozen,” which was a little out of left field, but so well done that the audience ate it up.
Theo Kingma, re-elected June 3 as president of the HFPA, served as host. He began by saluting Lauren Bacall and Robin Williams, and saying that performers don’t usually like silence, “So let’s all give them a moment of applause.” It was an offbeat approach that was exactly right, and set the tone for the fast-paced evening.
Aside from Kingma, the new slate includes Lorenzo Soria, VP; Lilly Liu, executive secretary; Meher Tatna, treasurer; and Ali Sar, Anke Hoffmann, Helen Hoehne, Jorge Camara and Yoram Kahana to the board of directors, with Luca Celada chosen as alternate board member.
Among the many other recipients were American Cinematheque, Ghetto Film School, Latin American Cinemateca of Los Angeles, LACMA, New Filmmakers, No Kid Hungry, the Pablove Foundation, Screen Actors Guild Foundation, and the Sundance Institute.