MPAA’s Valenti honored with AFI’s Heston Award

Org's head feted for contributions to film, TV communities

The American Film Institute’s Board of Trustees bestowed the AFI Charlton Heston Award upon Jack Valenti at a private luncheon Thursday at the BevHilton.

The chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Assn. of America was feted for his distinguished contributions to the film and television communities as well as to AFI.

“Jack Valenti is the eloquent voice of the film community to the world and a tireless supporter of AFI,” board chair Howard Stringer said.

“He has served AFI through decades of historic and cultural change in the art form. His unmatched influence and valuable perspective on the creative process helped AFI to become the moving-image arts organization that it is today.”

Valenti has been tied to AFI since its inception. In 1965, he was special adviser to President Lyndon B. Johnson when Johnson announced during an event in the White House Rose Garden that an American Film Institute would be created. Two years later, he became one of the institute’s 22 founding trustees.

Through the years, Valenti has continued to pour his efforts into the org; one such endeavor was a 1989 event, “Back to the Rose Garden,” hosted by President Bush in memory of Johnson’s pronouncement 25 years earlier.

“I am an avalanche of emotion,” Valenti said after receiving his honor. “I am carried away with warmth and affection for all of those who turned out for me today. The greatest gift one human can give to another at a time of celebration is the gift of their presence.”

The Heston nod was established in last year. The first recipient, Charlton Heston, was presented the award in his home during a private ceremony on Sept. 23, attended by Valenti and AFI director and CEO Jean Picker Firstenberg.