DGA picks Spielberg

Nod may predict Oscar win

The Directors Guild on Saturday night honored Steven Spielberg for his work on “Saving Private Ryan,” Michael Cristofer for the telepic “Gia” and Paris Barclay for the “NYPD Blue” seg in which Jimmy Smits’ character died.

On the heels of his win three days earlier from the Producers Guild of America, Spielberg stands poised, if history is any judge, to command the top prize March 21 from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which bestowed 11 nominations upon “Ryan.”

Only four times since the DGA’s inception has there been a difference between the DGA winner and the recipient of that year’s directing Oscar.

Spielberg dedicated his DGA award — which, in the excitement, he momentarily dropped onto the lectern — to his father, Arnold Spielberg. He said, as he has before, that it was his father’s tales of war that inspired him to make “Ryan.”

“I feel blessed and lucky that this project came to me,” Spielberg said. He expressed special gratitude to screenwriter Robert Rodat and leading man Tom Hanks, whom he described as “my true partner on this picture from beginning to end.”

Earlier, as he accepted his nomination plaque for “Life Is Beautiful,” Robert Benigni had brought down the house. All five directors had been warned explicitly — and comically — by emcee Garry Marshall that the plaques were nothing more than acknowledgments of the nominations, a DGA custom.

“I can’t believe I won!” Benigni shouted nonetheless. “I am full like a watermelon!”

Other DGA awards

Telepic winner Cristofer thanked “the great Angelina Jolie,” who played the title role in “Gia,” as well as several directors who had inspired him over the years, including Arthur Hiller, the late Alan J. Pakula and Jack Clayton, who taught him how to write a screenplay “with a bottle of brandy in one hand and a gun in the other.”

Dramatic series winner Barclay said he had not wanted to direct the “Hearts and Souls” episode. “I love the actor, I love the character,” Barclay said. He was eventually persuaded to shoot the episode by producer Steven Bochco.

Creative king

Bochco himself won the DGA’s diversity award, which recognizes hiring of women and ethnic minorities. “I was hoping they were going to give me the perversity award, but I’ll take this one,” Bochco quipped. “I hope that in the future this award will no longer be necessary, because everyone will be hiring on the same basis that we do.”

The comedy series group was won by Thomas Schlamme, for the pilot of ABC’s “Sports Night”; daytime serials went to James Sayegh for “One Life to Live”; and Paul Miller won in musical variety for “The Tony Awards.”

“I’m glad I won this award,” Miller said. “My wife told me she was going home with the winner, no matter who it was.”

When John Madden ascended to the stage to accept his nomination plaque for “Shakespeare In Love,” he jokingly congratulated Benigni on his victory. Then, referring to his own picture, Madden said he was “really glad you liked the movie.” The nomination, he said, was “quite enough for me.”

The full list of winners follows:


Steven Spielberg, “Saving Private Ryan” (DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures); Mark Huffam, production manager; Sergio Mimica-Gezzan, first assistant director; Adam Goodman, second assistant director; Karen Richards, second assistant director.


Michael Cristofer, “Gia,” HBO (Marvin Worth Prods.); James D. Brubaker, unit production manager; Mary Ellen Woods, first assistant director; David Larson, second assistant director.


Paris Barclay, “Hearts and Souls,” “NYPD Blue,” ABC (Steven Bochco Prods.); Robert J. Doherty, unit production manager; Dennis White, first assistant director; Suzie Pelissier, second assistant director.


Thomas Schlamme, “Pilot,” “Sports Night,” ABC (Touchstone Television in association with Imagine Television); Steve Burgess, unit production manager/first assistant director; Elena Santaballa, second assistant director; Dana DeVally, technical coordinator.


Paul Miller, “The Tony Awards,” CBS (Tony Awards Productions); Christine Clark Bradley, Debbie Miller associate director; Andrew Feigin, Jeffrey Gitter, Garry W. Hood, Arthur Lewis, Gary Natoli, Henry Neimark, Lauren Schneider, Doug Smith, stage managers.


James N. Sayegh, “One Life to Live” (Episode #7572), ABC (ABC-TV); Owen Renfroe, Suzanne E. Flynn, Paul S. Glass associate directors; Alan P. Needleman, Ray Hoesten, stage managers; Mary M. Ryan, Teresa Anne Cicala, production assistants.


Mitchell Kriegman, “Love is All You Need,” “Bear in the Big Blue House,” Disney (Tadpole Prods.); Dean Gordon, associate director; Henry Neimark, stage manager.


Kinka Usher, “Egg” (Sony), Young and Rubicam; “Michael Johnson’s World” (Mountain Dew/Pepsi), BBDO; “Cupid” (Miller Brewing Co.), Fallon McElligott; “Undercover Ushers” (Nike), Wieden & Kennedy; “Neighbor Lady” (Hallmark), Leo Burnett.


Jerry Blumenthal, Peter Gilbert & Gordon Quinn, “Vietnam: Long Time Coming” (Seventh Arts Releasing).


Arthur Hiller, for extraordinary service to the DGA and to its membership.


Tom Joyner, for an assistant director or unit production manager in recognition of career achievement in the industry and service to the DGA.


Robert Caminiti, for an associate director or stage manager in recognition of service to the industry and to the DGA.


Steven Bochco, for outstanding commitment to and leadership in the hiring of women and ethnic minorities in DGA categories.


Richard B. Armstrong

More Film

  • J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church

    SXSW Film Review: 'J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius'

    Like 8mm films of 1960s “happenings” or videos of 1970s performance art, “J.R. ‘Bob’ Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius” chronicles a cultural footnote that perhaps should be filed under the heading You Had to Be There. The satirical-absurdist “religion” founded by some Texans actually caught fire among hipsters in the 1980s, influencing some [...]

  • 'Roll Red Roll' Review: Piercing Documentary

    Film Review: 'Roll Red Roll'

    “Roll Red Roll” is a piercingly relevant and disturbing documentary about an infamous high school rape case that took place in Steubenville, Ohio (pop. 18,600), on Aug. 11, 2012. Steubenville, the sort of Friday-night-lights small town that boasts signs that read “Kick off for Jesus,” is a place that’s good at keeping secrets. When the [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Writers Guild, Hollywood Agents Negotiate With Deadline Looming

    The Writers Guild of America and Hollywood agents have held a sixth negotiating session with a deadline for a new deal 16 days away — and it’s uncertain whether progress is being made. The Association of Talent Agents made counter-proposals at Thursday’s session that contain provisions for more accountability and transparency by agencies for clients [...]

  • Fox Layoffs

    Fox Layoffs Leave Staffers Stunned and Saddened

    Fox employees knew this day was coming. For over a year, the men and women who work at the Century City lot have talked of little else but severance packages and job searches. They knew that when Disney wrapped up its $71.3 billion acquisition of much of 21st Century Fox’s film and television assets, thousands [...]

  • Alan Horn Disney

    Disney Clarifies Film Leadership After Harrowing Day of Fox Layoffs

    Following the dismissal of top executives in distribution, marketing and strategy on Thursday, new 20th Century Fox owner Disney has clarified its new top leadership. Five distinct Fox labels and a portion of their leadership have been welcomed into the Disney fold, the company said. This includes Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Family, Fox Searchlight Pictures, [...]

  • Janelle Monae

    Film News Roundup: Janelle Monae to Star in Film From Gerard Bush, Christopher Renz

    In today’s film news roundup, Janelle Monae will star in a Lionsgate movie, Bill Nighy joins “Emma,” and documentaries on surfer Bethany Hamilton and Asbury Park are dated. CASTINGS Janelle Monae will star in an untitled Lionsgate movie directed by the duo Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz. The film will be produced by QC Entertainment’s Ray [...]

  • Blair Rich Marketing Summit

    Studio Marketing Chiefs Discuss the Theatrical vs. Netflix Oscars Debate

    On a day where a large part of the Fox marketing department was wiped out in the aftermath of the Disney merger, a group of marketing chiefs from other studios and streamers sat down at the Variety Entertainment Marketing Summit presented by Deloitte “to discuss the issues shaping the feature marketing landscape today, including the theatrical [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content