- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 22, 2009

The red carpet rolled out as a prelude for the 81st annual Academy Awards Sunday with glittery appearances by some of Hollywood’s brightest stars.

Hosts of the Red Carpet Tim Gunn and Robin Roberts, mikes in hand, stopped the stars as they walked into the Kodak Theater, fans shouting behind ropes.

“It’s been a great couple of years,” said Josh Brolin, who has been nominated for best supporting actor in “Milk.”

Said Taraji P. Henson, nominated for best supporting actress in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” laughing and smiling, said she’s had “dresses thrown at me” when it came to deciding what to wear.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences already has announced some awards — and already has produced controversy.

Jerry Lewis, the longtime spokesman and fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award on Sunday evening for his tireless efforts on behalf of the group. During his 43 years as host of the group’s Labor Day telethon, the organization has taken in almost $2 billion.

“The Telethon is the most effective philanthropic event of its kind,” said MDA President and CEO Gerald C. Weinberg in a statement. “So it’s appropriate that the man who makes it all possible has been singled out for his matchless compassion.”

Still, some weren’t thrilled with the academy’s selection.

Mr. Lewis got into hot water during the 2007 telethon when he made a joke involving the term “illiterate faggot.” Though he apologized profusely, he tripped up again in 2008 when he called cricket a “fag game.”

Hollywood insider Nikki Finke took to her popular blog “Deadline Hollywood Daily” to rail against Mr. Lewis’ receiving the award.

“Despite Lewis’ laudatory 42 years of raising money for MDA,” she wrote, “his publicly demonstrated debasement of gays doesn’t make him a humanitarian in my eyes.”

Another, somewhat surprising group has arisen to protest Mr. Lewis’ win as well: Some with muscular dystrophy think that his treatment of those with the disease is patronizing.

“Jerry Lewis and the telethon actively promote pity as a fundraising strategy,” noted the authors of a petition calling for rescinding the award. “Disabled people want respect and rights, not pity and charity.”

Not all of the awards announced beforehand were subject to such controversy.

The scientific and technical awards, given out in a ceremony presided over by actress Jessica Biel on Feb. 7, rewarded those whose innovations have helped improve the art of filmmaking.

“It’s where science meets art,” said Sid Ganis, president of the academy. Ed Catmullone, one of the co-founders of Pixar and president of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, took the evening’s biggest prize, the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for his lifetime of work in the field of computer animation.

“I do feel that this industry was born out of the technical revolution, when they invented film,” Mr. Catmull said during the ceremony. Mark Kimball won the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation for work in such films as “Tron,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin.” He also won a Scientific Engineering Award in 1991 for his contribution to the development of the Computer Animation Production System made by Walt Disney Co.

Steve Hylen won a technical achievement award for developing the Hylen Lens System, a device that shows a variety of optical effects in real time on the set.

In the scientific and engineering awards, Erwin Melzner, Volker Schumacher, and Timo Muller shared an award for the Arrimax 18/12 lighting fixture, a machine that puts out up to 18,000 watts of light and stays cool to the touch. Jacques Delacoux and Alexandre Leuchter were rewarded for the design of superior video monitors that allow directors to see what they’re filming on a screen instead of through the viewfinder.

Bruno Coumert, Jacques Debize, Dominique Chervin and Christophe Reboulet took home an award for a pair of zoom lenses designed to ease the use of hand-held cameras and make them more versatile.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide