DGA Honors

DGA Honors

DGA Honors 2006

“How do we reinforce the fact that we are human beings – and that as human beings we are capable of using our imagination in extraordinary ways?” actor and humanitarian Danny Glover asked while accepting the DGA Honor in New York City on October 12, 2006. The answer is found in the audio-visual arts, Glover said, and in the achievements of his fellow honorees – acclaimed director Arthur Penn, The Sopranos creator David Chase, avant-garde preservationists Anthology Film Archives, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s commitment to the production community.

Each of the five was warmly welcomed as they received the DGA Honor before more than 430 guests and industry luminaries at the Guild’s theater. The presentation was followed by a gala at the nearby Nobu 57, a renowned restaurant co-owned by DGA member Robert De Niro where guests and honorees mixed for hours after the ceremony.

DGA President Michael Apted opened the show by emphasizing that each of the honorees, despite their different backgrounds; share a deep commitment to New York City. “Tonight we recognize the outstanding achievements of four visionary individuals and one institution that in their won way have made this city and the world a better place to live,” Apted said. He noted that film and television production was booming in the city – a topic Mayor Bloomberg would revisit – and singled out special guests including IATSE President Tom Short, SAG President Alan Rosenberg and former MPAA Chairman Jack Valenti. Hank Azaria, a four-time Emmy winner and the voice of many characters of The Simpsons, hosted the event, welcoming each of the presenters and providing his unique brand of wit and humor.

Don Cheadle introduced Glover and paid tribute to his “body of work and selfless devotion to others.” Glover thanked the many directors he has worked with over the years “for allowing me to believe that I can make a contribution to their vision and that our imaginations meet in so many ways.”

Thelma Schoonmaker, the Academy Award-winning editor and frequent collaborator with Martin Scorsese, introduced Jonas Mekas, founder of the Anthology Film Archives. Since the late 1960s, the New York City-based organization has been a leading force in preserving and promoting independent and avant-garde filmmaking. “From the time (Scorsese) and I were film students until now, Jonas has remained a beacon for us,” she said. Mekas said film must be appreciated as a tree with many branches, all of which are deserving of respect. “We love cinema and want it to be available for those who will see it and need it after us,” Mekas said. “But we also respect all those we preceded (so) know that we are not going to let you down.”

Peter Bogdanovich paid tribute to Chase, saying, “HBO’s The Sopranos has raised the bar very high for series TV and surely the greatest boon to a marked general improvement in any culture is the popular success of something with real quality because it encourages more of the same.” The Sopranos stars James Gandolfini and Steven Van Zandt presented the DGA Honor. Chase said he had hoped “to write a TV pilot to break all the mainstream TV rules that I’ve been dealing with over the years.” In accepting the DGA Honor, Chase thanked all of the series’ directors, including Tim Van Patten, Allen Coulter, Alan Taylor, Steve Buscemi, Bogdanovich, Henry Bronchtein and the late John Patterson. He also thanked the assistant directors, UPMs and other crew.

Acclaimed director Arthur Penn, lauded for Bonnie and Clyde and The Miracle Worker, among other films, was introduced by Jonathan Demme, who said Penn was being honored “for his daring and innovative contributions to film, theater and television.” Penn, like the other recipients, said he was honored to be in such esteemed company and thanked the DGA for selecting him. “You are a tough group and to be singled out for the influence my films have exerted on American Cinema is a source of considerable pleasure to me and I am profoundly grateful. In reminiscing about his career, Penn said he had one unfulfilled ambition: “I wish I had been bolder. Too often I censored myself. That’s a terrible thing. It’s the very obverse of creating. To you on the edge of your careers as filmmakers ‘don’t hold back.’ Let us see your human secret. It’s your gold: share it.”

Mayor Bloomberg was introduced by Lorraine Bracco, another of the many stars of The Sopranos who attended DGA Honors. Bloomberg was a “magnificent man with an unwavering commitment to the film and television industry in New York City,” she said. “Under the mayor’s leadership, a once-neglected aspect of this city’s economy has been revitalized.” As evidence, she said the industry employs 100,000 New Yorkers, contributes $5 billion to the economy and supports about 4,000 local businesses. Bloomberg thanked the contributions of the city’s film commissioner, Katherine Oliver, who helped create the “Made in New York” incentive program. Bloomberg also said the city has natural attributes that make it an ideal production hub, from its diverse population and workforce to its expanding soundstage industry and world-famous sites. “That makes it attractive from an economic and from an (matter of) ease point of view. But what you really want to do is have the best people and every time I talk to a director, they say the union people here are the best, the actors are the best, and we have 8.2 million people who want to be I your movie – and they’re the best.” The Mayor also said that, for all his achievements, there was something else he wished to accomplish. “What I always really wanted to do was direct. It’s true. Actually, if you think about it, being a mayor is very much like being a director. We both have to deal with budgets, critics, unions, and everyone in the case of our city thinks they’re stars.”

“DGA Honors was a tremendous success in bringing together the extraordinary film and television community of New York City, and to showcase the Guild’s central role in it,” said DGA National Executive Director Jay D. Roth. The 2006 DGA Honors Committee was chaired by National Vice President Steven Soderbergh, and included Ed Sherin, Jace Alexander, Dan Algrant, Larry Auerbach, Scott Berger, William M. Brady, Barbara DeFina, Jeff Hayes, David Jones, Dana Kuznetzkoff and Vince Misiano.

2006 Honorees

Arthur Penn, Director

Director and producer Arthur Penn is receiving a DGA Honor for his daring and innovative contribution to film, theater and television throughout a career that has included such landmark films as Bonnie and Clyde. Penn directed such memorable features as Alice's Restaurant, The Miracle Worker and Bonnie and Clyde, all of which drew Oscar nominations for best director. The latter two films also drew DGA Award nominations for outstanding directorial achievement in motion pictures. Penn was born in Philadelphia where, as a high school student, he worked in radio before entering the U.S. Army and seeing action as an Infantryman in France, Belgium and Germany. After the war ended, he stayed on as the civilian director for the U.S. Army Soldier Show Companies in Europe. When he returned to the U.S. he attended Black Mountain College in North Carolina and left for Italy to attend the Universities of Perugia and Florence. Penn later worked as a floor manager and associate director on the Colgate Comedy Hour for NBC in Hollywood. He was invited to join Fred Coe's staff and directed numerous episodes of the live dramatic series, Philco Television Playhouse, Producer's Showcase and Playhouse 90. Penn directed his first feature with 1958's The Left Handed Gun. Success on Broadway led to a series of hits, including The Miracle Worker, for which he later directed the acclaimed film adaptation. Penn later directed Bonnie and Clyde, which quickly became a pop-culture phenomenon. Penn followed this up with Alice's Restaurant and Little Big Man, followed by Night Moves and The Missouri Breaks. At the same time, Penn remained a prominent director on Broadway, working on such productions as Toys In The Attic, All The Way Home, for which he received a Tony Nomination for best director, Lorenzo, Golden Boy, Wait Until Dark, Sly Fox and Golda. More recently, he directed Fortune's Fool and the 2004 revival of Sly Fox. In the 1990s, Penn returned to television, directing The Portrait, a critical success, and the made-for-cable feature Inside. Penn has served as a member of the Board of Governors of the New School and is President Emeritus of the Actors Studio.

David Chase, Producer

Producer David Chase is best known as the creator of the acclaimed HBO drama The Sopranos, but his credits stretch back more than 30 years to his early days as a writer and producer in series television. Over the years his work has garnered numerous awards, including a Peabody Award, a Golden Globe Award and a DGA Award in 2000 for The Sopranos for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series - Night. Chase has also won five Emmy Awards, three for The Sopranos, one for writing on an ABC made-for-television movie, Off The Minnesota Strip, and another as a producer for The Rockford Files. Born in Mt. Vernon, New York, and raised in New Jersey, Chase is being honored with a DGA Honor for his achievements as a producer-writer-director. Chase pursued his early dream of becoming a rock musician by playing drums and bass in a N.J. garage band in the 1960's. His love of film gradually led him to study at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, and later to graduate from the film program at Stanford University. Starting as a writer, and later a producer and director, Chase worked on a series of network TV dramas in the 1970s, with his risk-taking, psychologically intense writing exemplified in The Rockford Files. He got his first chance to direct with the 1980s incarnation of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. As his television writing-producing career continued through the early 1990s, Chase branched out and started writing feature film scripts as well as directing some of the TV scripts he had written. It was in this phase of his career that he served as executive producer on 31 episodes of Northern Exposure. Drawing on his experiences growing up in an Italian-American household in New Jersey, Chase wrote and later directed the pilot for The Sopranos, which debuted on HBO in January 1999. Since then, Chase has written more than 20 episodes of the groundbreaking series, which will return with new episodes for its final season in early 2007.

Danny Glover, Actor/Humanitarian

Actor, producer and humanitarian Danny Glover has been a commanding presence on screen, stage and television for more than 25 years. As an actor, his film credits range from the blockbuster Lethal Weapon franchise to smaller independent features, some of which Glover also produced. Most recently, he completed filming the highly-anticipated feature Dreamgirls for director Bill Condon, and Shooter for director Antoine Fuqua. He is currently working on Be Kind, Rewind for director Michel Gondry.

At the same time, Glover has also gained respect for his wide-reaching community activism and philanthropic efforts, with a particular emphasis on advocacy for economic justice, and access to health care and education programs in the United States and Africa. For these efforts, Glover is receiving the DGA Honor. Internationally, Glover has served as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Program from 1998-2004, focusing on issues of poverty, disease, and economic development in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, and currently serves as UNICEF Ambassador.

In 2004, Glover co-founded Louverture Films (www.louverturefilms.com) dedicated to the development and production of films of historical relevance, social purpose, commercial value and artistic integrity. The New York based company has a slate of progressive features and documentaries including the recently released Bamako, which premiered to superb reviews at the Cannes International Film Festival, and the action epic film Toussaint, about the Haitian Revolution and its charismatic leader Toussaint Louverture, which Glover will direct in 2007.

A native of San Francisco, Glover trained at the Black Actors' Workshop of the American Conservatory Theater. It was his Broadway debut in Fugard's Master Harold... and the Boys, which brought him to national recognition and led director Robert Benton to cast Glover in his first leading role in 1984's Oscar®-nominated Best Picture Places in the Heart. The following year, Glover starred in two more Best Picture nominees: Peter Weir's Witness and Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple. In 1987, Glover partnered with Mel Gibson in the first Lethal Weapon film and went on to star in three hugely successful Lethal Weapon sequels. Glover has also invested his talents in more personal projects, including the award-winning To Sleep With Anger, which he executive produced and for which he won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Actor; Bopha!; Manderlay; Missing in America; and the film version of Athol Fugard's play Boesman and Lena. On the small screen, Glover won an Image Award and a Cable ACE Award and earned an Emmy nomination for his performance in the title role of the HBO movie Mandela. He has also received Emmy nominations for his work in the acclaimed miniseries Lonesome Dove and the telefilm Freedom Song. As a director, he earned a Daytime Emmy nomination for Showtime's Just a Dream.

Michael Bloomberg, Mayor, New York City, New York

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is receiving the DGA Honor for his steadfast commitment to the film and television industry in New York City. With his support, New York City launched a production incentive in January 2005 that proved so successful that producers had fully tapped the $50 million incentive in less than 18 months. The "Made in NY" program, which sought to boost the city's slumping production economy with a 5% tax credit on below-the-line expenses, was subsequently renewed in July as a $30 million annual incentive through 2011. Mayor Bloomberg was an internationally-known businessman before he was elected to succeed Rudy Giuliani in 2001, and re-elected last year. The Mayor founded Bloomberg L.P., a subscription financial, research and news service, in 1981. The company, which has since expanded into television, radio and publishing, now has more than 165,000 subscribers worldwide, who are served by a full-time staff of more than 8,000 people in 100 offices worldwide. The company's prosperity allowed Bloomberg to focus on philanthropy and civic affairs, including improving education, medical research and access to the arts. He has funded relief programs for victims of domestic violence in New York City, sponsored the Children's Health Fund's Mobile Medical Unit, and supported construction of new athletic fields at city high schools. Mayor Bloomberg has also served on the boards of 20 different civic, cultural, educational and medical institutions, as well as serving until 2002 as chairman of the Board Trustees of John Hopkins University, which currently houses The Bloomberg School of Public Health. Born in Medford, Mass., the Mayor attended John Hopkins University and later earned an MBA from Harvard before being hired by Salomon Brothers to work on Wall Street. After rising to partner, Bloomberg left Salomon in 1981 when it was acquired by another company and used his stake from the sale to launch Bloomberg L.P.

Anthology Film Archives

For more than 35 years, Anthology Film Archives has been an independent center for the preservation, study and exhibition of film and video. With an emphasis on American independent and avant-garde cinema and its precursors found in classical European, Soviet and Japanese film, the Archives is the only non-profit of its kind in New York. It offers public movie theaters, as well as an archive, research library and art gallery. DGA Honors recognizes this dedication to preserving the art of cinema as an inspiration to the entire industry. The organization was first envisioned in the early 1960s by Jonas Mekas, then director of the Film-Makers' Cinematheque, a showcase for avant-garde films. Mekas dreamed of establishing a permanent home where the growing number of new independent/avant-garde films could be shown on a regular basis. With the help of filmmaker and philanthropist Jerome Hill, Mekas, P. Adams Sitney, Peter Kubelka and Stan Brakhage drew up plans to create a museum dedicated to the vision of the art of cinema as guided by the avant-garde sensibility. A Film Selection Committee was formed to establish a definitive collection of films and form the structure of the new institution. Out of that was born the first Essential Cinema Repertory collection of about 330 titles. Following the acquisition of the selected films, Anthology Film Archives opened on November 30, 1970, at Joseph Papp's Public Theater. In 1979, the Archives acquired Manhattan's Second Avenue Courthouse building, which was adapted to house two motion picture theaters, a reference library, a film preservation department, administrative offices and a gallery. At the Courthouse, Anthology has found an ideal home as a chamber museum, dedicated to the preservation, study and exhibition of independent and avant-garde film. It is the first museum devoted to film as an art form, committed to the guiding principle that a great film must be seen many times, that the film print must be the best possible, and that the viewing conditions must be optimal.