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BAFTA hails Spielberg

Prince Andrew presents trophy to helmer

HOLLYWOOD — While shooting a film Stanley Kubrick had worked on for 18 years and with the late director’s widow Christiane in attendance, Steven Spielberg accepted BAFTA/L.A.’s Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film on Saturday at the Century Plaza.

The award was presented by Great Britain’s Prince Andrew, who called the 25-pound Britannia “unique in that it’s the heaviest award anyone has ever asked a member of the royal family to pick up.” (The Britannia, which looks like a cross between a miniature baptismal font and a Phillipe Starke-designed Holy Grail, is made from titanium.)

Spielberg said he was two weeks from wrapping “A.I.” and was “happy to note the irony” of “directing Stanley’s vision and receiving this award at the same time.”

In speaking of “A.I.,” Spielberg said he’s “tried to infuse enough of myself” while “retaining enough of Stanley.” One Kubrickian trait he’s retained is total secrecy, which has been achieved though various ploys. “You can fool the Internet,” said the helmer. “You put out false call sheets.”

Other speakers at the Sapient-sponsored dinner included Ronald Neame, BAFTA/L.A.’s chairman Arnold Schwartzman and managing director Katherine Haber, Ian Abercrombie, Brenda Blethyn, Jeff Goldblum, Robert Zemeckis and Ben Kingsley. Michael Crawford and Dale Kristien performed four songs from “Phantom of the Opera” that took full advantage of the Century Plaza’s new, potent sound system.

Among the “lords, ladies and honored guests” in the ballroom were Kate Capshaw, Jessica Capshaw, Jeffrey Katzenberg, British consul-general Paul Dimond, Russell Crowe, Ridley Scott, Joan Allen, Patrick Stewart, Thora Birch, Jan Harlan and Sid Sheinberg, whom Spielberg introduced to Haley Joel Osment by saying, “This is the man who gave me my first job.”

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