During his acceptance speech, Apatow emphasized the importance of supporting women who have spoken out about experiences with sexual harassment.
“We are all aware now that there are real dark forces trying to keep people quiet, there are ex-Mossad agents tracking people,” Apatow told the audience at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Thursday night. “Now I think we understand why it’s been so hard for people to fight this fight, but now that we’re all talking about it, I think we need to continue to talk about it and come up with some solutions so that we can spend our time protecting our actors and actresses.”
Meanwhile, Bigelow voiced her concern on the growing number of deadly shootings. “In my humble opinion, we can’t accept this as normal,” she said. “In these coarse and turbulent times, I’ve come to feel that entertainment alone is not enough. Perhaps we can consider a new metric when we’re thinking about entertainment, and that’s entertainment that informs, that can be a gateway to social change.”
Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos was also feted as a patron of the artists, while Lionel Richie received the inaugural recording artists inspiration award and Kate Winslet received the actors inspiration award for their philanthropic work.
Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, who star in the Apatow-produced comedy “The Big Sick,” kicked off the ceremony praising Apatow’s integrity.
“It’s one thing to be a successful producer, but to be one of the good guys, that’s what he is, that’s what he was — that’s what I saw in action — collaboration and making us feel comfortable,” said Romano.
Zoe Kazan said she felt lucky to work with Apatow on “The Big Sick.”
“Unfortunately as a working actor, you can’t always pick and choose. You try and do your best in that regard and not give people your talents who don’t deserve them,” she told Variety on the red carpet. “He had been vouched for by my friend Lena [Dunham] so thoroughly that I knew I was going to be in safe hands.”
The actress added that she hopes the firestorm of allegations surfacing in Hollywood will inspire men to “think twice about their behavior.”
Diane Warren performed “Stand Up for Something,” and dedicated her rendition to the women who have come forward to share their stories of harassment and assault.
Adam Sandler lightened up the evening while presenting Sarandos with his award, who he referred to as “one of the most beloved historical figures of the last thousand years.”
“Ted immediately was given the most impossible task in the history of showbusiness. Take a very tiny amount of content to a f—ing s–load of content in the timetable of two business weeks,” Sandler joked of Sarandos’ start at Netflix in 2000. “How did Ted do this? He spent money. Money on every stand-up comic who has got a good six minutes of material and is willing to do video interviews in Malaysia to promote.”
During his speech, Sarandos lauded the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s benefit on the industry. “Great performers and great performances inspire each and every one of us to have a tremendous influence on culture and society. This is why we are so humbled by this honor. In these complex times, we need arbitrators of artistic support,” he said.
Performances by Kristen Bell, Sara Bareilles, Katharine McPhee, and Renee Olstead were sprinkled throughout the night, while Andrew Garfield, Tracee Ellis Ross, Allison Janney, and Mandy Moore were on hand to present.