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Hanks lauds films touting tolerance

This article was corrected on March 23, 1994. Quotes attributed to “Jurassic Park” effects designer Stan Winston in Tuesday’s Backstage at the Oscars coverage should have been credited to his co-winner Dennis Muren. With his shared win for “Jurassic’s” visual effects, Muren took home his eighth Oscar, tying with Edith Head. Winston, who is not working on “Congo,” has won four Oscars.

Correction Appended: March 24, 1994 Thursday

Stan Winston is designing the gorillas for “Congo” but isn’t working on “Casper.” Credits were wrong in items Tuesday and Wednesday.

Best actor Tom Hanks went to great lengths to praise two gay friends as well as the courageous execs at TriStar Pictures who got behind the “Philadelphia” project.

Hanks said he contacted Raleigh Farnsworth, his drama coach from Skyline High in Oakland, Calif., before mentioning him during his acceptance remarks. Hanks also said that a high school friend, John Gilkerson, had died of AIDS several years ago. “If I had not come into contact with these men, I would not be standing here,” he said.

Hanks singled out former TriStar chairman Mike Medavoy and current president Marc Platt for helping get “Philadelphia” made.

The actor said he hopes that the number of films dealing with tolerance — specifically “In the Name of the Father,””Schindler’s List” and “Philadelphia”– meant that greater tolerance would be practiced in the future.

He said “Philadelphia” demonstrated the power of film because there are so many Americans who have never lost anyone to AIDS and the film will teach them about the epidemic.

Lest anyone forget that Hanks cut his eyeteeth as a comedian, the best-actor winner tossed off a few bon mots. He mentioned that he had run into the stage manager from his old sitcom “Bosom Buddies” backstage “who polished his Oscar” for him. He also commented on the coincidence that Bruce Springsteen and he keep bumping into one another at media events like David Letterman’s final NBC broadcast. “It’s a bizarre symbiosis,” he quipped. “I would trade it all for free tickets to one of his shows.”

“The Piano” director Jane Campion, winner for original screenplay, and best actress Holly Hunter blew through the press room back to back. Campion mentioned that she was relieved the evening was over because “it’s such an effort to be glamorous.” She was on edge for the early part of the weekend until Anna Paquin won her award. “Darling Anna turned the whole thing around,” said Campion. The star scribe also thanked CIBY 2000, the French film company, for its courage in backing the film.

“It was a big leap of faith,” Campion commented, “to trust us girls down in New Zealand.”

In reference to victories for Paquin and Hunter, Campion said she was quite tickled with the way the evening played out: “When there’s people to share (your success) with, it’s more fun.”

Hunter, who celebrated her birthday on Sunday, followed Campion backstage and told the press she was not prepared for her award. “I knew my director voted for me,” she said.

The actress stressed how the role has changed her career, even her life, and admitted to being bowled over by how well it was received. The toughest question Hunter faced was whether she felt the Academy gave preferential treatment to anyone playing a mute.

“That’s a crippling question,” she smirked, “and it makes me want to revert to my character (in the film).”

Anna Paquin won a supporting actress Oscar for a film she hasn’t seen yet, and her dad hinted it might be awhile, what with full-frontal Harvey Keitel and all. “The film’s an NC-16 in New Zealand,” said Brian Paquin. “Let’s just leave it at that.”

Her reaction to hearing her name read as the winner: “This can’t be happening and, then, ‘Oh my gosh,’ ” she said.

It was suggested to supporting actor winner Tommy Lee Jones that perhaps he prevailed because competitors Ralph Fiennes and John Malkovich played a Nazi and an assassin. Heck, even Pete Postlethwaite was convicted in “In the Name of the Father.”

“I really have a higher regard for the intelligence of the voters than that,” said Jones. “I don’t think they said, ‘We’re going to sit down and vote against bad guys and for the good guys.’ … I don’t believe in the trend or the fad. I would hate to think people thought that way.”

He said of the Oscar: “It is without a doubt the greatest honor that an actor can receive. There’s no question about that.”

Asked about his hair — or lack thereof, shaved as it was for a part in director Ron Shelton’s “Cobb”– Jones said: “We thought about putting on wigs and all the different alternatives. It became a pain, so I decided to come disguised as myself — a working actor.”

He got a big kiss backstage from Ve Neill — co-winner in makeup with Yolanda Toussieng and Greg Cannom for “Mrs. Doubtfire.” She’s been doing the makeup for “Cobb,” and they both began their work day together at 4 a.m.

Asked about how she and her colleagues got hyperactive comedian Robin Williams to sit still while they applied the necessary layers, Neill said, “He’s very difficult, he bounces around a lot, but he would watch movies while he was in the trailer.”

While making his fifth Oscar victory lap, John Williams took time to praise his 21-year collaboration with Steven Spielberg. He recollected that they first worked together on “Sugarland Express” and were brought together on the Universal lot by Sidney Sheinberg and exec producer Jennings Lang.

Usually, Williams said, he watches the director’s cut once through then he will pore over individual reels countless times.

When it came to scoring “Schindler’s List,” Williams strove for an “aspect oftenderness.” He also likened the score to a “lullaby” that would “enhance the poetic qualities that (the film) already had.”

As for his switch-hitting between “Jurassic Park” and “Schindler’s List,” Williams found the change of styles refreshing, and he was pleased he hadn’t been “pigeonholed” as a composer.

“I would like to believe in God in order to thank him, but I just believe in Billy Wilder, so … thank you, Mr. Wilder,” said Fernando Trueba, director of the winning foreign-language film, Spain’s “Belle Epoque.”

What did he mean?

“There are thousands of moments from his films,” explained the Wilder fan. “But right now I remember Shirley MacLaine running up the steps to Jack Lemmon’s apartment. For me, that is happiness.”

Trueba screened his film for his idol not long ago. “Yes, he saw the movie,” he said of Wilder. “Yes, he loved it. And yes, that was the greatest moment in my life.”

Bruce Springsteen expressed backstage how movies as well as music influenced his youth.

The original song winner for “Streets of Philadelphia” said several films had influences upon his own art. He mentioned “The Searchers,””The Grapes of Wrath” and “How Green Was My Valley.”

“Yeah, when I was a kid growing up films were as much an influence on my work as music was,” he said.

Springsteen also used the Oscar pulpit to speak out about AIDS. “The film was something that I was glad to lend my voice to, to put my two cents in,” he said. “It’s hard to find a graceful way to accept an award when there’s so much suffering going on.”

Controversy started early backstage, as art director Allan Starski sparred with the press over the depiction of concentration camp inmates in “Schindler’s List” as well-clothed and well-fed.

In his defense, the Polish-born Starski said he drew material from museum collections and archives, adding that even when exact concentration camp sites were not used, “we used the same cities” for an authentic atmosphere.

With his shared win for “Jurassic Park’s” visual effects, Stan Winston picked up his eighth Academy Award, tying him with Edith Head and putting him second behind Walt Disney for statuettes. When asked what he planned to do to celebrate, Winston quipped, “My son is the one who really wants to see this, so I want to get back home fairly early so he can play with it.”

Winston said there was no problem working over a satellite link during the post-production of “Jurassic Park” while Spielberg was in Poland shooting “Schindler’s List”– thanks to modern technology directors need not linger about Los Angeles to finish their films.

Winston and “Park” pards Dennis Muren, Phil Tippett and Michael Lantieri will be working on “Casper the Friendly Ghost” and “Congo,” but they’re “still in the planning stages” on another “Jurassic,” Lantieri said.

“Schindler’s List” screenwriter Steven Zaillian paid tribute to his late father. “My father was a writer and, without trying, inspired me as a writer,” the Oscar-winner said. “It is hard for me to talk about him because I miss him. Thefirst script that I wrote was finished about a year before he died, and he said to me, ‘You’re a writer,’ which is about the most important thing anyone has ever said to me.”

As for the inclusion at the end of the movie of a scene that did not appear in the book — Oskar Schindler receiving a gold ring from his concentration camp workers — Zaillian said he felt it was “important to remind people” that although Schindler saved some 1,200 people, 6 million more died during the Holocaust.

Sound effects editing winner Richard Hymns was “a little bit” concerned that “Jurassic Park” technical awards would be negatively impacted by all the pre-Oscar hype for “Schindler’s List”– unnecessarily, it turns out. “It seemed that they might be giving so much to it that we might be left out,” Hymns said.

“Defending Our Lives” filmmaker Margaret Lazarus took her activism backstage following the docu short subject award, pointing to domestic violence as “an extraordinary problem in the United States and throughout the world.” She thanked the members of the Academy for “keeping the documentary category for features” and shorts alive.

Documentary winners Susan Raymond and Alan Raymond spoke of the plight of the inner-city children depicted in “I Am a Promise: The Children of Stanton Elementary School.” Said Alan Raymond, “I think the issue that this film revolved around is being neglected.”

“Black-and-white forces the audience to look at the actors more than color would do,” said winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski.

Coming from Poland, achieving success in Hollywood and returning to Poland for “Schindler’s List” lent to the personal drama of the award, he added.

“I think it’s a part of history that any country would like to forget,” Kaminski said. “Germany would like to forget. And Poland would like to forget. Hopefully it will allow people to address it in a positive sense.”

Having a cigarette in the men’s room in the downstairs lounge, new Viacom Entertainment Group chairman Jonathan Dolgen said he would take “a few days off, ” starting at Viacom-Par in about three weeks. “If I don’t show up, I can’t screw up,” Dolgen said between bear-hugs with former Sony Pictures Entertainment colleague Mark Canton.

Asked to speculate on Wall Street’s approval of his hiring at the conglom, Dolgen said, “Maybe I’ll just stay home and watch the stock go up.”

Dolgen also said he almost hired Kerry McCluggage, Viacom-Par’s new TV czar, at Sony a couple of years ago.

Mark Canton probably wasn’t the only one at Monday’s festivities equipped with a beeper, but he had arguably the best reason. Wife Wendy Finerman was due to give birth at any moment.

Sound winner Ron Judkins dismissed the significance of winning a technical award in the year dedicated to “the people behind the camera.” He said: “They do give the sound award every year. Not just this year. To be honest, I don’t see a lot of significance in that association.”

Another in the “Jurassic” sound quartet, Gary Summers said, “one of the advantages in sound — and disadvantages — is that you don’t always notice.” The challenge of the technician to deliver his craft seamlessly is “why we’re being honored this year as unsung heroes.”

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