"Now, I can breathe again," said Steven Spielberg, as he stepped off a backstage podium with his two Golden Globe Awards for "Schindler's List"--the first time he has actually won one of Hollywood's major film prizes. In the past, he had been nominated for Globes and Oscars but never took one home.
Only minutes earlier, Spielberg was sitting among the hundreds of celebrities and entertainment industry power brokers who had gathered for Saturday night's 51st annual presentation of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.'s annual prizes. Hollywood's "Moses" himself (a.k.a. Charlton Heston) delivered the announcement: "Schindler's List," a black-and-white film depicting the Holocaust and a German industrialist who saved more than 1,300 Jews from Nazi death camps, had won the best dramatic picture prize for 1993.
Earlier in the evening, actor Gregory Peck had opened the envelope and read Spielberg's name as best director.
The two wins ended film community speculation about whether the director of the two box-office giants "E.T." and "Jurassic Park" would again get a cold shoulder when it came to prizes. His previous nominated directing efforts for "Jaws," "The Color Purple" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" had been overlooked by the Golden Globe voters--and the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who vote for the Oscars.
To many, it appeared as though the Golden Globes, held at the Beverly Hilton, may have been--once again--the dress rehearsal for the Academy Awards to be presented on March 21.
But what a dress rehearsal. Nerves were jittery from the Los Angeles area earthquake and the aftershocks as the show began. Hostess Faye Dunaway expressed thanks for the safety and survival of the guests in the ballroom. At the earlier cocktail party, the earthquake even beat out Oscar speculation as Topic No. 1. An unnerved Bette Midler, nominated for best actress in a television film for her role in the musical "Gypsy," left town with her family and did not attend. She won the Globe, however.
It was an evening that drew a variety of celebrities--the music world's Janet Jackson, Huey Lewis, Clint Black and Bruce Springsteen (who won a Globe for best song for a motion picture, "Philadelphia"), TV's Jerry Seinfeld, Steven Bochco and Roseanne Arnold, plus Al Pacino, Angela Lansbury, Sally Kirkland, Anjelica Huston and Jack Lemmon.
The evening's emotional highs were the heartfelt acceptance remarks that Tom Hanks gave as he won for best actor in a drama for his role in "Philadelphia," as an attorney dying of AIDS, and the enthusiastic standing ovation that greeted Peck as he announced Spielberg's directing award.
Spielberg said the best film honor for "Schindler's List" really belongs to the 1,300 courageous survivors of the Polish concentration camp depicted in his movie. It was an emotional moment also for Spielberg's co-producers Branko Lustig, who survived the Auschwitz camp, and Gerald Molen, who observed "that one man can and did make a difference"--the suggestion being that Schindler took a chance and so did Spielberg.
In remarks backstage, Spielberg was asked if "Schindler's List" was the favorite of his films. "You're not supposed to prefer one child over another. But since the others won't take it personally, I can say that 'Schindler" is my proudest moment as a filmmaker. . . . I'd trade three 'Jurassic Parks' . . . for all the letters that I've gotten since the movie opened."
Asked about an incident last week where rowdy, laughing students in Oakland disrupted a showing of his film, Spielberg had this response: "In certain socioeconomic circles a lot of kids are desensitized to violence, because of what's happening in the streets. Lots of them are living their own Holocaust."
Hanks said, in part: "It is odd and surreal for me to stand here and say that I feel lucky. As a heterosexual man who does not have AIDS, to say that I was lucky to play him--a gay man who suffers from terminal AIDS--to stand here tonight after all that we've been through as a city, to stand here today in the midst of all that we're going through as a nation, as a people, as a society in the face of the current Holocaust that is taking hundreds of thousands of lives. However, I have to say that I am a very lucky man."
In all, "Schindler's List" won three awards, the most of any film. Screenwriter Steven Zaillian picked up the prize for his work.
Robin Williams won as best actor in a comedy for his cross-dressing role as a nanny in "Mrs. Doubtfire," and the film was named best film--comedy or musical. That tied with "Philadelphia" as a winner of two prizes.
A surprised Angela Bassett arrived on stage to whoops and cheers as she collected the best actress prize in a musical or comedy for her performance as pop star Tina Turner in "What's Love Got to Do With It."
Holly Hunter, who won as best actress in a drama, for her non-speaking role in "The Piano," told the press: "It's remarkable how much I didn't miss speaking. There's a magic--and a lot of economy--in keeping things private for yourselves. Still, nine weeks into the shoot, (co-star) Sam Neill and I were sitting in the make-up trailer and I said to him that I felt I hadn't done my part yet. That's probably because I hadn't spoken."
On the television side, the Castle Rock Entertainment sitcom "Seinfeld" on NBC collected three prizes--for best series, actor, and supporting actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
HBO's cutthroat business drama "Barbarians at the Gate" and its star James Garner won two Golden Globes.
Another multiple winner was ABC's controversial dramatic series "NYPD Blue," produced by Steven Bochco Productions. It won as best series and for actor David Caruso.
Backstage, Caruso told reporters: "I was one of the people living in the 100 buildings destroyed in Santa Monica (by the earthquake). So this is a nice way to end the week. I guess I see this as a vindication since people at one point were after the show (for its language and occasional nudity). In the end, the viewers made the decision."
* Drama: "Schindler's List." * Musical-comedy: "Mrs. Doubtfire." * Actress, drama: Holly Hunter, "The Piano." * Actor, drama: Tom Hanks, "Philadelphia." * Actress, musical-comedy: Angela Bassett, "What's Love Got to Do With It." * Actor, musical-comedy: Robin Williams, "Mrs. Doubtfire." * Supporting actress: Winona Ryder, "The Age of Innocence." * Supporting actor: Tommy Lee Jones, "The Fugitive." * Director: Steven Spielberg, "Schindler's List." * Screenplay: Steven Zaillian, "Schindler's List." * Foreign language film: "Farewell My Concubine." * Original score: Kitaro, "Heaven and Earth." * Original song: "Streets of Philadelphia" from "Philadelphia," Bruce Springsteen. * Cecil B. De Mille Award for lifetime achievement: Robert Redford. * Special Achievement Award: "Short Cuts."
* Series, drama: "NYPD Blue." * Actress, drama: Kathy Baker, "Picket Fences." * Actor, drama: David Caruso, "NYPD Blue." * Series, musical-comedy: "Seinfeld." * Actress, musical-comedy: Helen Hunt, "Mad About You." * Actor, musical-comedy: Jerry Seinfeld, "Seinfeld." * Miniseries or movie made for television: "Barbarians at the Gate." * Actress, miniseries or movie made for television: Bette Midler, "Gypsy." * Actor, miniseries or movie made for television: James Garner, "Barbarians at the Gate." * Supporting actress, miniseries or movie made for television: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Seinfeld." * Supporting actor, miniseries or movie made for television: Beau Bridges, "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom."
Staff writer Elaine Dutka contributed to this report.