×

Denzel bridges gap at fete

Washington grins at film org honor

It’s rare when the honoree at a tribute dinner has the wittiest three-word quip of the night, but such was the case at Friday’s American Cinematheque fund-raiser honoring Denzel Washington at the Beverly Hilton.

Host Jamie Foxx was on a roll with a laugh-getting opening monologue that centered on a giant photo of a “St. Elsewhere”-era Washington when the actor’s front teeth had a gap worthy of David Letterman.

“Those are supporting actor teeth,” said Foxx, who then pointed to a more recent photo of Washington smiling. “He moved on to leading man teeth. Man, that’s a $2,500 cap.”

Foxx then segued into some jokes about his own career, how highly paid Washington is and how he himself would like to be making $20 million a film.

From halfway across the ballroom, Washington called out the three words that brought down the house: “Get new teeth.”

Though not with lines that got that kind of laugh, the evening included remarks from Mike Medavoy, Peter Dekom, Henry Shields Jr. and Rick Nicita.

Themes and luminaries

The retrospective on Washington’s career was cleverly broken into segments labeled “justice,” “women,” “sports,” etc. Those introducing segs included Bruce Willis, Angela Bassett (who read a note of congratulations from Nelson Mandela) and baseball great Barry Bonds, who said he was unaccustomed to public speaking “because in my profession all we get to say is ‘I got it.’ ”

Also intro’ing clips were Robert Downey Jr., Ice Cube, Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Cedric the Entertainer, Antwone Fisher, Ethan Hawke and Steve Harvey, who made reference to Foxx’s monologue with this comment: “There’s got to be more than nice teeth to Denzel, because I got nice teeth and all I got are seven years on the WB.”

The award presentation was made by Tom Hanks, who praised Washington as an artist who “is able to make walking across the street a riveting actor’s decision.”

Spreading the praise

In his acceptance, Washington thanked at least a dozen people, notably his first agent, the late Ruth Aronson; the recently deceased Bruce Paltrow; and, most enthusiastically, his wife, of whom he said: “20 years from now they’ll be saying. ‘That’s the guy who’s married to Pauletta Washington.’ ”

Among those attending the event, scheduled to air in March on AMC, were Cinematheque exec director Barbara Smith, Jim Robinson, Alan Horn, Jeff Berg, Ed Limato, Ron Meyer, Alex Yemenidjian, Chris McGurk, Dick Cook, Rob Friedman, Tom Rothman, Sandy Climan and Norman Jewison.

The dinner raised about $500,000.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Dan Trachtenberg

    Tom Holland's 'Uncharted' Movie Loses Director

    Dan Trachtenberg has exited the director’s chair for Sony’s “Uncharted” movie starring Tom Holland, with the studio taking meetings with top filmmakers and production starting early next year. The studio confirmed Trachtenberg’s departure Thursday. It also said Sony-based PlayStation Productions — headed by Asad Qizilbash and Carter Swan — had come on to produce alongside [...]

  • Participant Taps Anikah McLaren, Robert Kessel

    Participant Taps Anikah McLaren, Robert Kessel to Head Film Department

    Participant Media has named industry veterans Anikah McLaren and Robert Kessel as co-heads of the company’s film department with the titles of executive vice president. Both executives will report together to Participant CEO David Linde, who made the announcement Thursday. McLaren joins Participant having most recently served as a production executive for Fox Searchlight Pictures. [...]

  • 'The Son' Review: Bosnian Family Drama

    Sarajevo Film Review: 'The Son'

    It is a mixed blessing to be born in the aftermath of a war. On the one hand, you never have to experience the terror and suffering your parents did; on the other, you grow up with your own personal crises forever made to feel smaller by comparison. That, at least, is the frustration driving [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Box Office: Jennifer Lopez 'Hustlers' Heading for $25 Million Launch

    STX Entertainment’s “Hustlers,” a comedic thriller about strip-club employees seeking revenge, is expected to earn $25 million when it opens on Sept. 13, according to early tracking. The movie — starring Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Lili Reinhart, Keke Palmer, Cardi B and Lizzo — will debut alongside Warner Bros.’ “The Goldfinch.” The drama, based on [...]

  • AMC TheatresShop signs, Los Angeles, America

    AMC Theatres Lays Off 35 Corporate Staffers

    AMC Entertainment has laid off 35 corporate staffers and will not fill an additional 15 open jobs. The Kansas-based chain made the announcement Thursday as part of a previously announced “profit improvement plan” intended to achieve operating and administrative efficiencies. AMC, which operates more than 10,000 movie screens, had disclosed the plan on Aug. 8 [...]

  • Ann Sarnoff Warner Bros

    Ann Sarnoff Formally Takes Reins of Warner Bros. as CEO

    The Ann Sarnoff era at Warner Bros. has begun. Sarnoff formally took the reins as Warner Bros. chair-CEO on Thursday, two months after she was appointed to the post. Sarnoff told employees in a memo that she has been impressed by the company’s track record during the past year amid a period of upheaval for [...]

  • Take Me Somewhere Nice review

    Ena Sendijarevic on Migration, Identity and the Question of Belonging

    Bosnian filmmaker Ena Sendijarević had an auspicious debut with “Import,” a short film which world premiered in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight in 2016. Drawing on her own family’s personal history, the Amsterdam-based director crafted an idiosyncratic tale about a family of Bosnian refugees trying to make a new home in the Netherlands. With her feature debut, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content