July 13, 2004
New York, NY - Filmmakers Jonathan Demme, Robert De Niro and Bertrand Tavernier, studio head Sherry Lansing, producer Lorne Michaels, Congressmen Howard Berman and David Dreier, and Florida State University Film School will be honorees at the Fifth Annual Directors Guild of America Honors, to be held at The Waldorf-Astoria in New York City on Wednesday, September 29, 2004.
The Directors Guild of America Honors celebrates individuals and institutions that have made distinguished contributions to American culture through the world of film and television. At the same time, DGA Honors recognizes the diversity of achievement - in business, government, labor and higher education - required to produce the best entertainment in the world. The membership of the Directors Guild of America, other top entertainment industry professionals, union, government and business leadership from across the nation are expected to attend. All honorees will be present to accept their awards.
"DGA Honors is a true demonstration of how individuals and organizations can assist in the integrity, growth and preservation of the film and television industry," said DGA President Michael Apted. "This year's honorees are extraordinary examples to us all."
"DGA Honors is an event as unique as the individuals it recognizes," said DGA National Vice President Ed Sherin. "By gathering more than 750 top leaders to celebrate those individuals whose work profoundly influences, touches and shapes our lives, DGA Honors becomes, for one September evening, the New York nexus of entertainment, business, labor and politics."
Past DGA Honors recipients have included influential filmmakers Martin Scorsese, Mike Nichols, Sydney Pollack, Spike Lee, and Robert Altman, as well as powerful leaders in entertainment, labor and politics such as Bob Shaye, CEO, New Line; Jeff Bewkes, CEO, HBO; former NEA Chairwoman, Jane Alexander; Senator Ted Kennedy; Congressman Richard Gephardt; AFL-CIO president John Sweeney, and IATSE president Tom Short. Past presenters have included Tom Cruise, Halle Berry, Julianne Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ellen DeGeneres, Matt Dillon, Tim Robbins, and Francis Ford Coppola.
The Fifth Annual Directors Guild of America Honors took place on September 29, 2004. It began with a cocktail reception at 6:00 PM, dinner at 7:00 PM, followed by the awards presentation at 8:00 PM at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan.
Director and producer Jonathan Demme's credits include this year's The Manchurian Candidate, in addition to The Agronomist, The Truth About Charlie, Beloved, The Silence of the Lambs, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Director, Philadelphia, Married to the Mob, Something Wild, Swimming to Cambodia and Melvin and Howard. Demme was twice named Best Director by the New York Film Critics (for Melvin and Howard and The Silence of the Lambs) and his films have been nominated for a total of 20 Academy Awards. In 1991, The Silence of the Lambs received five Oscars (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay Adaptation) and a DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film. Demme also directed the documentary Cousin Bobby and produced the Academy Award-nominated biography Mandela. Since 1988, he has worked with his company Clinica Estetico to produce or direct a number of documentaries as well as feature film projects, many of which have focused on the country of Haiti. His creative interests have also lured Demme into the musical domain; he directed the Robyn Hitchcock performance film Storefront Hitchcock, the Award-winning Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense, Artists United Against Apartheid's Sun City, Neil Young's The Complex Sessions, and music videos for Bruce Springsteen, The Neville Brothers and Les Frères Parent, among others.
Robert De Niro launched his acting career in Brian De Palma's The Wedding Party in 1969 and by 1973 he had twice won the New York Film Critics' Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performances in Bang the Drum Slowly and Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets. In 1974 he received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of the young Vito Corleone in The Godfather, Part II. He won his second Oscar in 1980, as Best Actor, for his portrayal of Jake La Motta in Raging Bull. De Niro has earned Academy Award nominations in four additional films: as Travis Bickle in Scorsese's Taxi Driver, as Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter, as Leonard Lowe in Penny Marshall's Awakenings, and in 1992 as Max Cady, in Scorsese's remake of the 1962 classic Cape Fear. He is currently working on Jay Roach's Meet the Fockers.
Through his company Tribeca Productions and the Tribeca Film Center, founded in 1988 with Jane Rosenthal, De Niro develops projects on which he serves in many capacities, including director, producer and actor. Tribeca's A Bronx Tale marked De Niro's directorial debut. Other Tribeca features include Thunderheart, Cape Fear, Night and the City, Marvin's Room, Wag the Dog, Analyze This, Meet the Parents, Analyze That and Meet the Fockers. In 1992, Tribeca TV was launched with the critically acclaimed series "Tribeca" on which De Niro served as executive producer. Tribeca Productions is headquartered at De Niro's Tribeca Film Center, in the Tribeca district of New York. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, De Niro co-founded the Tribeca Film Festival to celebrate New York City as a major filmmaking capital and to contribute to the long-term recovery of lower Manhattan.
As Chairman of the Motion Picture Group of Paramount Pictures since 1992, Sherry Lansing is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the company's motion picture operations. Under her chairmanship, three of Paramount's films won the Academy Award for Best Picture during a four year period - Forrest Gump (1994), Braveheart (1995) and the highest grossing motion picture of all time, Titanic (1997). Prior to becoming studio head, Lansing headed her own production company, Lansing Productions, which produced Paramount Pictures' Indecent Proposal. During her partnership with Stanley Jaffe, formed in 1983, Jaffe/Lansing Productions produced a variety of films for Paramount, among them The Accused, Fatal Attraction, Racing With the Moon and School Ties. From 1980 to 1983, Lansing served as President of Production at 20th Century Fox; she was the first woman to hold that position in the motion picture industry. Prior to joining Fox Lansing served as Senior Vice President at Columbia Pictures.
Lorne Michaels is the creator and executive producer of "Saturday Night Live," the longest-running and highest-rated weekly late night television program in history. Over the last 29 years, "SNL" has won countless Emmy Awards and was honored with the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award. Most recently, Michaels and the show were honored with a 2002 Emmy for Best Writing in a Variety/Comedy Series. Michaels has personally won ten Emmys as a writer and producer in television. He is also executive producer of NBC's "Late Night with Conan O'Brien." Past television credits include specials with Lily Tomlin, Steve Martin, Paul Simon, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Randy Newman, Neil Young and Simon and Garfunkel in Central Park. On Broadway, he produced and directed "Gilda Radner Live from New York" and produced the subsequent motion picture Gilda Live. Michaels' film credits include Three Amigos, which he produced and co-wrote with Steve Martin and Randy Newman, Wayne's World, Tommy Boy, A Night at the Roxbury, Superstar, and the WWII drama Enigma, directed by Michael Apted, which he produced with Mick Jagger. Most recently he produced the hit comedy Mean Girls starring Lindsay Lohan and Tina Fey. In 1979, Michaels founded the New York based production company Broadway Video Inc.
Versatile and prolific French filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier has impressed international audiences for many years with his work in a number of genres. Tavernier began his career as a film critic for the influential publications "Positif" and "Cahiers du Cinéma," writing extensively on American movies. His first feature film, L'Horloger de Saint-Paul (1974), based on a Georges Simenon novel, won international prizes and established him as a major talent. It also marked the beginning of a long collaboration with actor Philippe Noiret. Tavernier followed his directorial debut with Que La Fête Commence..., Le Juge et l'Assassin, Des Enfants Gâtés, La Mort En Direct, starring American actors Harvey Keitel and Harry Dean Stanton, Une Semaine de Vacances and Coup de Torchon. In 1983 he made the documentary, Mississippi Blues, about the American South, and the following year he earned international acclaim, including the Director's Prize at Cannes and a Best Screenplay César, for his film Un Dimanche à la Campagne. Two years later he adapted the true story of a French fan's attempt to watch over doomed jazz pianist Bud Powell in 'Round Midnight, followed by the medieval saga La Passion Béatrice. Recent films include La Vie et Rien d'Autre, Daddy Nostalgie, Capitaine Conan and Ça Commence Aujourd'hui.
Congressmen Howard Berman (D-CA) and David Dreier (R-CA) are receiving a DGA Honor for their longstanding and unwavering support of the Guild's most important legislative priority - the fight against runaway film and television production. In 2001, Congressmen Berman and Dreier initiated House legislation to fight runaway production, and were original sponsors (along with Charles Rangel, D-NY) of HR 3131: "The United States Independent Film and Television Production Incentive Act of 2001." In 2003, the Congressmen jointly re-introduced similar legislation in HR 715: "The United States Independent Film and Television Production Incentive Act of 2003." Both bills offered federal income tax credits designed to encourage film and television/cable production in the United States and employment of U.S. small business workers on such productions. In addition, the Congressmen have individually proven to be strong supporters of the Guild and its legislative efforts in many arenas - continuing to protect both the creative rights of directors and the economic health of the entertainment industry.
The Florida State Legislature created Florida State University's School of Motion Picture, Television and Recording Arts (a.k.a. the Film School) in 1989 with the mission to prepare men and women for successful careers in the film and television industries. Operating on the main campus of The Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, the Film School offers programs in undergraduate and graduate film production. A conservatory setting with limited access and small enrollments, FSU Film School admits only 30 students to each program annually - significantly fewer students than any other major film school in America - allowing faculty to maintain the caliber of education necessary for graduates to succeed in an extremely competitive industry. It is the only film school in America that pays for the production costs of its students' films, thereby creating a level playing field so that students will focus on art, craft and imagination, instead of on fundraising. Tuition costs are lower than the other top programs, alumni are actively involved in transitioning graduates into the film industry, and virtually 100% of FSU Film School graduates find work in the film and television industry within 12 months of graduation.
DGA Honors host Dave Chappelle's "Chappelle's Show" is a critically acclaimed series produced by, written by (along with Neal Brennan) and starring Chappelle. While still in production on his show last season, Chappelle embarked on his national comedy tour, "The Grassroots Tour," playing in forty cities at over sixty shows. In 2003, "Dave Chappelle is Blackzilla" was the 3rd-ranked best-selling summer tour according to the Associated Press. Theatrically, Chappelle was most recently seen in the Universal Pictures feature Undercover Brother opposite Eddie Griffin and Denise Richards, as well as in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, The Nutty Professor, Con Air, You've Got Mail and Blue Streak. Chappelle's first major starring role was in Half Baked, which he also co-wrote. The film is now viewed as a cult hit and considered a must-own on DVD for college kids. Chappelle will soon be starting production on a comedy special for Showtime this fall. He can also be seen in the most recent batch of Pepsi commercials nationwide.
Founded in 1936 by 13 of Hollywood's leading filmmakers, including the legendary John Ford and King Vidor, the Directors Guild of America is the nation's pre-eminent organization representing directors and members of the directorial team. The Directors Guild of America represents 12,800 members who work in feature film, filmed, taped and live television, commercials, and documentaries, including Directors, Unit Production Managers, Assistant Directors, Associate Directors, Technical Coordinators, Stage Managers and Production Associates.