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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:

FEATURE FILM

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.

MOVIES FOR TELEVISION

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

DRAMATIC SERIES

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.

COMEDY SERIES

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.

MUSICAL VARIETY

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.

DAYTIME SERIALS

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.

CHILDRENS PROGRAMS

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

COMMERCIALS

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.

DOCUMENTARY

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

ROBERT B. ALDRICH ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

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

FRANK CAPRA ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

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

FRANKLIN J. SCHAFFNER AWARD

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

DGA DIVERSITY AWARD

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

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN NEWS DIRECTION

Richard B. Armstrong

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