No Oscar sits on Steven Spielberg’s mantle.
But while he waits for the Big O, other awards continue to come his way. Sunday night the director of such mega hits as “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “The Color Purple” got a double whammy: the Scopus Award from the American Friends of the Hebrew University and three NAACP Image awards for “The Color Purple” (best picture, actress (Whoopi Goldberg) and supporting actress (Oprah Winfrey).) The news of the latter came during the former, a black-tie gala at the Century Plaza attended by 1,200 and studded with entertainment industry big shots; movie studio heads, former studio heads, directors, producers, network presidents, actors, singers.
Quincy Jones delivered the news of the Image awards during his Spielberg tribute, one of many that lauded him as a dedicated, unselfish humanitarian who brings out the child in everyone.
The director was chosen for the award, according to Harvey Silbert, chairman of the national board of the American Friends, because “First, he’s a film luminary. His family and he are dedicated to Jewish causes. He is the youngest recipient of the award, also.”
Scholarships for 240
Money raised from this event (tickets were $1,200 per couple) will go toward the Steven Spielberg Scholarship Fund, which will give about 240 students three-year scholarships at Hebrew University. Spielberg’s name will also grace Hebrew University’s extensive film archives of Jewish history.
Spielberg said in a pre-dinner cocktail party that he had never been involved with Hebrew University before this and had visited the Jerusalem campus for the first time recently while wife Amy Irving filmed “Rumpelstiltskin” in Israel.
How did students react to the acclaimed director? “Half of them didn’t know who I was.”
Spielberg and Irving (sans son Max, he of the trendy yuppie baby name) mingled with guests at a pre-dinner cocktail party, including Harrison Ford with wife Melissa Mathison, Sylvester Stallone and wife Brigitte Nielsen, who resembled a stunning sea creature in her hooded pale green skin-tight dress; Michael Jackson; Whoopi Goldberg and husband David Claessen, both wearing matching black Reeboks; Barbra Streisand (a Scopus winner two years ago), emcee Richard Dreyfuss, Edie and Lew Wasserman (he is chairman of MCA); producer/composer Quincy Jones, composer John Williams and Israeli cabinet member Gen. Ezer Weizman.
Sensing her husband was jittery, Amy Irving turned to him, took his hands in hers and said, “As my mother used to say to me before I would go on stage, ‘Turn that negative energy into positive energy and then it’ll be OK.’ ”
Guests were in place in the main ballroom as the members of the dais were introduced: Steven Ross, chairman of Warner Communications; George Lucas, who worked on “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” with Spielberg; Kathleen Kennedy, who has co-produced several Spielberg movies; MCA president Sid Sheinberg; Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, and Harvey and Lillian Silbert, among others.
Those in the audience included George Burns, Goldie Hawn, Sally Field and husband Alan Greisman, Barbara and Marvin Davis and son John, Candy and Aaron Spelling, MGM chairman Alan Ladd Jr., songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Loni Anderson, Michael J. Fox, Brandon Tartikoff, president of NBC Entertainment; record and movie mogul David Geffen, Drew Barrymore, Roy Scheider, Spielberg’s mother Leah Adler and stepfather Bernie Adler, and Irving’s mother Priscilla Pointer with actor Robert Symonds.
During dinner there was the requisite table-to-table schmooze. Spielberg and Irving came down from the dais to pay respects to their parents, Brigitte Nielsen strolled over to see Goldie Hawn, who showed Nielsen her biceps; Dreyfuss hugged Spielberg’s parents, Michael Jackson talked with several people but kept his dark glasses on. After dinner came speeches about Hebrew University and Israel from Silbert, Weizman and others. Next, the entertainment: Peter Allen, who bopped, shimmied and did splits on the piano. “This song won an Oscar,” he said, introducing “Arthur’s Theme.” “But I probably shouldn’t mention that. Is this a fair city? Steve doesn’t have an Oscar, but I do. You could have mine but it’s on my mother’s piano.”
And still the speeches came; this time, tributes by those who had worked with Spielberg. Harrison Ford said, “The generosity of his nature is evident in his work . . . That’s why we honor him tonight, because he honors us.”
Said Whoopi Goldberg, “He explained a lot of things to me I didn’t know about business and friendship. I learned it’s possible to have friends in business . . . Steven Spielberg is someone I’d hire.”
Quincy Jones declared Spielberg “an official, honorary brother,” and John Williams recalled his first meeting with a 24-year-old Spielberg, saying he had the soul of an 800-year-old man. “And,” he added, “I suppose when he’s 800 he’ll have the soul of a 24-year-old.”
Spielberg called the tribute “my second bar mitzvah” and thanked a number of people, adding, “This is not my Oscar speech; I’m saving that for some year.
“This is a really deep source of satisfaction having Hebrew University put its stamp of approval on my work. But when you honor me you also honor a small army. A film director never does anything by himself.” He added, “Whatever this thing is we call the American dream, it is built on innocence and trust.”