Hollywood heavyweights gathered Wednesday night at the annual Will Rogers Pioneer Dinner to honor the memory of the late Tom Sherak, who was being awarded posthumously with the org’s Pioneer of the Year kudo.
Jeffery Katzenberg, who emceed the evening, described the former president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences as a devout family man and friend.
“He was someone who didn’t see the glass as either half full or half empty,” Katzenberg said. “If it had even a single drop of water in it, it would be full.”
Katzenberg first appeared on stage to “Happy,” the popular tune from “Despicable Me 2,” of which the DreamWorks Animation head said would be Sherak’s own theme song.
Former Disney chief Dick Cook also had warm memories to share of Sherak, saying, “He was truly one of the most unselfish people I’ve ever met.
“Tom goes to the very top of the list of pioneers,” Cook added.
Cook introduced Sherak’s wife Madeline, who accepted the award on behalf of the family.
“Today is about memories and the life of a boy who turned into a man whom we all depended on,” Madeline said during an emotional speech. “The reach Tommy had to people everywhere overwhelms our family.”
Other industry heads in the audience were Ryan Kavanaugh, Jim Gianopulos, Jeff Blake, Rob Friedman, Gerry Lopez, Amy Miles, Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Alan Horn.
Earlier in the evening, Adam Sandler appeared in a pre-recorded appreciation of Sherak, who died of prostate cancer in late January. The crowd also watched a video featuring Sherak’s close childhood friends and former military buddies.
Award-winning classical singers The Tenors performed several songs, including a powerful rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”