Hollywood’s publicists always deliver star power at their annual awards fest. The landmark 50th annual ICG Publicists Awards luncheon held Friday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel was no exception. Actors Sally Field and Robert Downey Jr. were surprise presenters, and legendary actor/producer/director Kirk Douglas was the recipient of the organization’s lifetime achievement award.
Signaling the half-century commemoration for the organization, Henri Bollinger, who has twice been president of the publicists’ group and is chairman of the awards presentation, drew a rousing round of applause when he told the audience he had been at every one of the organization’s annual awards events for 50 years.
Argo and Homeland continued their respective winning streaks in the many awards shows that precede the Oscars. The domestic and international publicity teams at Warner Bros. received the Maxwell Weinberg Motion Picture Publicist Showman Award for promoting the Ben Affleck film about the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. And the similarly named Television Publicist Showman Award went to the group generating public attention for the hit spy series, which airs on Showtime and was produced by Fox 21.
The publicists became part of the International Cinematographers Guild, Local 600, a decade ago under the instigation of former IATSE president Tom Short. ICG president Steven Poster kicked off the ceremonies with remarks about the important role publicists play today. Meanwhile, current IA president Matt Loeb, who rarely goes to entertainment industry events, flew in from New York to attend, in a show of support for the ceremonies under the auspices of one of IA’s Hollywood guilds. Also present was Mike Miller, a key member of the IA executive committee who is based in Los Angeles.
In other competitive categories, Pete Hammond who writes for Deadline.com, got the domestic press award. He is the first person to get the honor twice. James White, the Hollywood correspondent for Empire, a British entertainment magazine, won the international press award. The award for excellence in unit still photography for films went to Jaimie Trueblood and to Suzanne Tenner for television.
There were also honorary awards handed out that had been pre-announced. Heidi Schaffer of PKM/BNC was the recipient of the Les Mason Lifetime Achievement award, presented to her by longtime client, multi-Oscar winner Sally Field who was nominated again this year in the best supporting actress category for her role in Lincoln. The film showman of the year prize was handed out by Iron Man star Downey to Marvel Studios president Kenneth Feige who has steered the company into production of numerous blockbusters based on Marvel Comics characters. The company is presently a division of Disney.
USA cable network co-chiefs Chris McCumber and Jeff Wachtel received the TV showmen of the year award. USA has been the top-rated cable network for seven consecutive years, but McCumber and Wachtel have only been there for the last two.
Douglas got the publicist’s ultimate honor from longtime Universal chief Ron Meyers. Douglas extemporized with witty anecdotes. He recalled how when Joan Crawford claimed to have never heard of his then-publicist Warren Cowan, he tried to up his profile by introducing him to Henry Rogers. The two created Rogers & Cowan, a publicity powerhouse for decades. He received an effusive standing ovation from the audience at the beginning and end of his remarks.