ShowEast Honoree: Salah M. Hassanein Humanitarian Award
Of all ShowEast kudos doled out each year, the Salah M. Hassanein Humanitarian Award has been the one most coveted by MGM’s theatrical distribution prexy Clark Woods.
This year, ShowEast has tapped Woods — a 25-year distribution veteran of Paramount Pictures before he joined MGM in 2006 — with the honor that recognizes members of the exhibition and distribution community for their exceptional philanthropic efforts.
“There are a lot of awards in our business, but this is one where I truly know and respect the man it is named after,” says Woods, who finds time outside his busy MGM release schedule to log significant time with Variety Lifeline (no relation to Daily Variety) and the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers. “He’s been a mentor and a friend. So, it’s an award that I’m very proud to have.”
Woods says the former United Artists exec was once one of the most important exhibitors in showbiz and served as a driving force for getting the distribution and exhibition community involved in charitable work — something he insists is now ingrained in the culture.
“He’s such an icon in our industry,” adds Woods. “In the distribution and exhibition sphere, he is the greatest humanitarian ever.”
Besides nabbing the award he has long eyed, what else is Woods proud of? As part of his work with the Variety Club, the married father of two spearheaded a program now in its 15th year to sell gold hearts in movie theaters and that has raised $45 million worldwide to date.
“You wake up and you say, ‘Every studio in town has supported this (program) at some level,'” he notes. “It’s pretty hard to get that kind of collaboration.”