Steven Spielberg grinned at the mini-size Canon HI8 steady cam documenting the proceedings at the first annual John Huston Award for Artists' Rights ceremony. "If I'd had a camera like this when I was a kid, I wouldn't have had to come to Hollywood. I would have started my own studio back in Arizona."
Lance Fisher, the cameraman, was able to thread among the tightly packed tables in Hotel Nikko's Imperial Ballroom on Friday night with more mobility than the waiters, who were attempting to serve dessert and coffee as the speechmaking began.
"I think it was the shock of seeing 'The Asphalt Jungle' colorized that really sent my father into a tailspin," Anjelica Huston said, recalling the late director's vehement championship of all artists' rights to have work preserved and shown as they intended. Huston's plea to the U.S. Senate in support of this cause was one of the film clips shown as the award in his memory honored another great director, Fred Zinnemann.
On-screen appearances were also made by President Bill Clinton, who said he believes he has seen Zinnemann's "High Noon" 18 or 20 times, and by Zinnemann, 87, who was unable to travel to Hollywood from his home in England. In his absence, his son Tim, also a Hollywood filmmaker, accepted the bronze award, designed by Anjelica Huston's husband, sculptor Robert Graham. The award will be given annually for outstanding courage, vision and distinguished service on behalf of artists' rights.
Spielberg, who made the presentation, said: "I think I've seen 'High Noon' two or three times more than President Clinton."
George Lucas introduced U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, who headed the Senate hearings on the alteration of film art, and thanked him for listening to "ramblings and ravings as we seek support for the moral rights of artists."
"You don't need to thank me for listening to ramblings and ravings," Leahy said. "When you've been a senator for 20 years, you are used to that."
Other Hollywood filmmakers present to acknowledge Zinnemann's legacy included Artists' Rights Foundation President Elliot Silverstein, Erwin Winkler, Oliver Stone, Stanley Donen, Arthur Hiller, Mark Rydell, Robert Wise, Milos Forman, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Sidney Poitier and Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo.
Guests were thrilled to discover their goody bags contained, along with a T-shirt and perfume from Bijan, tapes of such Zinnemann classics as "A Man for All Seasons," "Julia" and "From Here to Eternity." A few sighs were heard because "High Noon" was not among the party favors.