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At the sixth annual Governors Academy Awards four legends were honored on Saturday November 8, 2014. This ceremony gives a gong to those artists in the industry whom the Awards panel deem worthy of honorary statuettes, generally because these professionals have either been ignored for “real” Oscars or are, as the recipients were on Saturday night, legends in the film world. The winners were Harry Belafonte, Hayao Miyazaki, Maureen O’Hara and Jean-Claude Carriere and Belafonte was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
This event was started in 2009 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Titled the Governors Awards, it is a non-televised portion of the Oscar ceremony which celebrates the honorary winners. Past winners of honorary Oscars includes stars like Lauren Bacall, Eli Wallach, James Earl Jones, and Roger Corman, amongst others. Previous Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipients include Angelina Jolie, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Oprah Winfrey.
The awards ceremony was held at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at the Hollywood & Highland Center and had quite a glittering array of stars in attendance. Kevin Costner, Clint Eastwood, Liam Neeson, Hilary Swank, Ron Howard and Benedict Cumberbatch were just some of the A list personalities present. Warren Beatty, Robert Duvall and Robert Downey Jr were also there for the three hour long presentation.
The Governors Awards follows the Academy Awards template of showing a montage of the person’s work who is receiving the honor. The four legends who were being celebrated on Saturday each had a lifetime of work to choose from. While this event is not televised “live” it will have highlights presented during the next Academy Awards ceremony due to be held on February 22, 2015. The celebration on Saturday had its fair share of tissue moments and humor, as well as some of the stars being star-struck themselves.
The tissue moment award has to go to Harry Belafonte who shared his award with Sidney Poitier whom he brought out on stage towards the end of his speech, to a thunderous ovation, according to Glenn Whipp from the Los Angeles Times. A close second was Carriere with his speech where he spoke of screenwriters being forgotten, “like shadows.” The humor award goes to Ms. O’Hara who wanted to make sure the Oscar was not the good silver or gold from the kitchen. Second place in the humor stakes goes to the first star struck luminary of the evening Hayao Miyazaki who stated that the biggest thrill of the whole evening was meeting Maureen O’Hara.
O’Hara apparently has the same effect on everyone, both Liam Neeson and Clint Eastwood (Clint worked with Maureen eons ago in a film called Lady Godiva of Coventry) admitted to having crushes on the actress. All of the honorees were applauded by the representatives present from the Hollywood community and the star struck fans, which included a visibly excited Susan Sarandon who was delighted about meeting Harry Belafonte.
Four legends were honored by the Academy Awards via the Governors Awards on November 8. While the public have to make do with the odd photograph of the event, along with the few moments of inclusion in the 2015 Oscars, the recipients were applauded by their peers for a lifetime of work in both the entertainment industry and in one instance as an activist who has campaigned for his fellow man tirelessly, Mr. Harry Belafonte. Congratulations to all who received the awards and a hearty well done to all those who attended the Academy ceremony to show their support.
By Michael Smith
Los Angeles Times