One person assured of taking home a trophy from the Academy Awards spoke modestly at the reception in his honor at Italian Consul General Massimo Roscigno’s Beverly Hills home.
When asked what his greatest contribution to the film industry has been, Thalberg honoree Dino De Laurentiis said: “It’s not to me to say. Somebody else has to say.”
But with only a tiny bit of prodding the legendary producer said in accented English: “I did hundreds of movies. I build three studios around the world. I invented new financing of the movie (pre-sales by territory) and I create so many star, so many director. It’s a long list, if I start to mention.”
During the languid reception around the hillside pool, there was time for De Laurentiis to talk of his favorite films (“I have a special feeling in my heart for ‘Serpico.’ It’s my first American movie”); his essential philosophy as a producer (“You have no good story, you have no good movie”) and his yet-to-be-prepared Thalberg acceptance speech (“Saturday I think about it; Sunday I do it”).
Look for his acceptance to be concise. First, there’s the time limitation (“I got one minute”); and then there’s the De Laurentiian preference for brevity. When Roscigno stood beside a lectern and began his remarks, the honoree turned to the crowd and said, “Don’t worry. No long speeches.”
Also don’t look for De Laurentiis to use the Thalberg honor as a swansong to producing. His career has had Himalayan ups and downs but he’s always trekked on.
“If you leave the game,” he said. “You’re out.”