2015 DGA Honors to Recognize Leadership In Film and Television Industry

DGA Honors New York City 2015

July 29, 2015

Los Angeles – The Directors Guild of America (DGA) today announced that Director/Producer Ron Howard, Teamsters Local 817 President Thomas J. O’Donnell, Director/Writer/Producer Tyler Perry, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Film Editor Thelma Schoonmaker will be honored at the 2015 DGA Honors, to be held at the DGA Theater in New York City on Thursday, October 15, 2015.

DGA Honors celebrates individuals and institutions that have made distinguished contributions to American culture through the world of film and television and recognizes the diversity of achievement—in business, government, and labor —required to produce the best entertainment in the world.

“As we approach the 80th anniversary of the Directors Guild of America, it is with great pride that we pause to express our appreciation of five incredible leaders who have shaped the direction of the entertainment community,” said DGA President Paris Barclay. “From an influential DGA and Academy Award-winning master filmmaker like Ron Howard, to a multi-hyphenate entertainment powerhouse and Atlanta business leader like Tyler Perry, to a renowned legislator and advocate for production incentives and job creation like Senator Chuck Schumer, DGA Honors recognizes both the visionary artists who create media as well as leaders in government and beyond. Our creative work is enriched by invaluable contributions of such craft masters as Thelma Schoonmaker, a trailblazing light in film editing, and labor leaders like Thomas J. O’Donnell, the President of Teamsters Local 817, who represents the fine professional crews that make up the beating heart of each production.”

“The best film and television are born of collaboration, vital, often intense and always creative collaboration,” said DGA National Vice President and Honors Chair Vincent Misiano. “And that spirit is at the heart of DGA Honors in New York, where we gather to celebrate both artists and the leaders from business and government who make their work possible. Together they’ve built an industry that enriches our common culture and supports the livelihoods of thousands of working men and women.”

Past DGA Honors recipients have included influential filmmakers Nora Ephron, Robert Altman, Jonathan Demme, Milos Forman, Curtis Hanson, Spike Lee, Mike Nichols, Arthur Penn, Sydney Pollack, and Martin Scorsese; as well as leaders in entertainment, labor, and politics such as Law & Order creator/producer Dick Wolf, Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels, Sopranos creator David Chase, HBO Documentary Films President Sheila Nevins, Robert De Niro, Danny Glover, Jane Alexander, former Paramount Pictures CEO Sherry Lansing, IATSE International President Matthew Loeb, former AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, Senator Ted Kennedy, Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Olympia Snowe, Congressman John Conyers, Jr., and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Past presenters and hosts have included Meryl Streep, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Cruise, Halle Berry, Helen Mirren, Julianne Moore, Jude Law, Richard Belzer, Dave Chapelle, Sam Waterston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ellen DeGeneres, Matt Dillon, Hank Azaria, and Francis Ford Coppola.

The 2015 DGA Honors will begin with red carpet arrivals at 6 p.m., followed by the event itself at 7 p.m. and a VIP after-party at Nobu 57 at 8:30 p.m.

Honoree Biographies

Ron Howard

Ron Howard

Renowned filmmaker Ron Howard is receiving the DGA Honor for his countless contributions to American film and television.

Howard’s directing credits include A Beautiful Mind, for which he won the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement and the Academy Award, Apollo 13, for which he won the DGA Award, Backdraft, Parenthood, Frost/Nixon, Cinderella Man, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rush, and the upcoming In the Heart of the Sea and Inferno. Howard also executive-produced the HBO miniseries, From the Earth to the Moon, as well as Arrested Development for Fox and Netflix.

Howard and long-time producing partner Brian Grazer first collaborated on the hit comedies Night Shift and Splash. The pair co-founded Imagine Entertainment in 1986 to create independently produced feature films.

Howard made his directorial debut in 1977 with the comedy film Grand Theft Auto, after coming to prominence as a child actor, playing Opie Taylor in the sitcom The Andy Griffith Show for eight years, and later as the teenaged Richie Cunningham in the sitcom Happy Days.

Thomas J. O’Donnell

Thomas J. O’Donnell

Thomas J. O’Donnell is the President of Theatrical Teamsters Local 817 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union. He is being recognized for his labor rights efforts and his contributions to production in New York.

O’Donnell served as Secretary-Treasurer of Theatrical Teamsters Local 817 for 23 years before being elected President in early 2013. He was recently appointed Director of the Teamsters Motion Picture and Theatrical Trades Division, advocating for safety standards, work rules, and other issues for 10,000 workers on the nation’s movie sets.

O’Donnell has dedicated his career to growing the Motion Picture Division from coast to coast and helping Teamster locals navigate the ever-changing industry landscape. Prior to his service as an officer of the local, he began his career as a driver on The Stepford Wives in 1974, later becoming a Transportation Captain.

O’Donnell currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Museum of the Moving Image, and Council of Motion Picture and Television Unions.

Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry is being recognized for his contributions to film and television including the creation of a thriving - and soon to be expanded - production center in Atlanta employing hundreds.

In early 2005, Perry wrote, produced and starred in his first feature film, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, which debuted at number one nationwide. His ensuing films – which he also directed – Madea's Family Reunion, Daddy's Little Girls, Why Did I Get Married?, Meet The Browns, The Family That Preys, I Can Do Bad All by Myself, Why Did I Get Married Too?, For Colored Girls, Madea's Big Happy Family, Good Deeds and Madea's Witness Protection have all been met with massive commercial success, delighting audiences across America and around the world. Perry also starred in Alex Cross and Gone Girl, and executive-produced the Academy Award-nominated Precious. In addition, he created and directed popular television shows including House of Payne, For Better or Worse, The Haves and Have Nots, and Love Thy Neighbor.

Beginning with his 1992 musical I Know I've Been Changed, Perry has also created 13 successful plays and written a New York Times bestselling book, among other credits.

Perry fought from a young age to find the strength, faith, and perseverance that would later form the foundations of his much-acclaimed plays, films, books and shows. He has been intimately involved with and donated generously to civil rights causes through work with the NAACP and National Action Network. In 2010, Perry pledged $1 million via The Tyler Perry Foundation to help those affected by the earthquakes in Haiti.

Thelma Schoonmaker

Thelma Schoonmaker

Editor Thelma Schoonmaker is receiving a DGA Honor for her trailblazing film editing career.

Her film editing credits include such iconic features as Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Age of Innocence, Casino, Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island, Hugo, and Wolf of Wall Street. She has received three Academy Awards, two BAFTAs, and three American Cinema Editors awards. Schoonmaker earned her first Academy Award nomination for her role as editing supervisor of the groundbreaking documentary Woodstock.

A New York mainstay, her long working partnership with Director Martin Scorsese has helped to define generations of filmmaking. The duo, who met at New York University’s film school, are working on their 19th feature together, Silence. 

In addition to editing, Schoonmaker is dedicated to preserving, restoring and promoting the films of her late husband, Michael Powell, who directed many classics including The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Black Narcissus, and The Red Shoes.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Sen. Chuck Schumer

Senator Charles “Chuck” Ellis Schumer is being recognized with a DGA Honor for his longstanding role as a champion of job creation and other issues important to those who work in the New York film and television industry. 

Senator Schumer was one of the earliest backers and co-authors of the DGA-supported legislative effort to pass a federal film and television incentive beginning in 2001 and culminating in its passage as a provision of the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004. 

Senator Schumer has a longstanding and well-earned reputation as a tireless fighter for New York, as fully exemplified by his annual visits and face-to-face meetings with his constituents in all 62 New York State counties—an undertaking he has made every year since being elected to the Senate in 1998. Currently serving his third term, Senator Schumer sits on the Banking, Finance, and Judiciary Committees while also serving as Vice Chair of the Democratic Conference and a Ranking Member on the Senate Rules Committee, which oversees federal elections, voting rights, and campaign finance.

About the DGA:

In the 79 years since its founding in 1936, the DGA has fought for the economic and creative rights of its members; protected their ability to financially benefit from the reuse of their work; established strong pension and health plans; and established jurisdiction in new technologies and distribution platforms. Today we represent nearly 16,000 directors and members of the directorial team working in film, television, commercials, new media and other audiovisual media.


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