A few honorary Oscar winners are getting a jump on next year’s Academy Awards.
Film historian and preservationist Kevin Brownlow, director Jean-Luc Godard and character actor Eli Wallach are to receive Oscar statuettes Saturday evening at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ second annual Governors Awards.
Director-producer Francis Ford Coppola is also to be presented with the academy’s Irving G. Thalberg award at the private black-tie dinner at Hollywood&Highland’s Grand Ballroom, which is adjacent to the Kodak Theatre, home of the Academy Awards.
Winners were chosenby the governors of the academy’s 15 branches.
The academy established its Governors Awards last year to pay tribute to winners of honorary Oscars and the Thalberg bust — prizes previously presented during the Academy Awards telecast. Academy President Tom Sherak said the new, non-televised Governors Awards allow the academy to honor more artists with more in-depth presentations.
Last year’s inaugural celebration “was a night where celebrities came, members came who aren’t celebrities and celebrated the careers of four people,” Sherak said. “Not only were all their friends able to attend — which doesn’t always happen at the Academy Awards — those people were able to talk and toast them individually.”
Sherak said he expects the event to remain untelevised, though highlights will be available online at Oscars.org and will also be included in the Academy Awards telecast on Feb. 27, 2011.
“We purposely have not let the outside in just yet,” he said. “We want it to be a night where you can say anything you want.”
Sid Ganis, who is producing the event with Don Mischer, said they plan to “put on an entertaining show that will do what we can’t do on the big show, which is to dig into the careers of these four gentlemen.”
Brownlow, a documentarian and historian, has restored several silent films, written books about the history of Hollywood and made movies about some of its pioneers.
“He is a treasure to this industry,” Sherak said.
Godard, a French-born director whose contributions to the New Wave era of filmmaking have been considered groundbreaking, has said he won’t be able to attend the awards ceremony. Godard has been the subject of media reports in recent weeks that suggest he is anti-Semitic, and the academy received some complaints about his honorary award, but Sherak said the honorary Oscar is in recognition of his artistic contributions, not “his overall life.”
Wallach is a character actor who has appeared in scores of movies and TV shows since his career began in the early 1950s. Sherak called the 94-year-old actor “a gem” and “an artist in his craft.”
Coppola, a five-time Oscar winner whose credits include “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now,” is being honored for producing a lifetime of quality work.
“His contributions have taken the art form to a whole new level,” Sherak said.
Coppola said he felt “blessed” when he got word of the award.
“It is sort of the ultimate award for producing,” he said in an interview. “I’ve been a writer, a director and I have more than gotten my share of those honors. The Thalberg Award, for me, is kind of a trifecta.”
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