Monday, February 26, 2007

Honorary Oscars® at Gala - Morricone and Lansing

Composer-conductor Ennio Morricone, who has composed more than 300 motion picture scores over a 45-year career, was voted an Honorary Award by the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last December. The Oscar statuette, was presented at the 79th Academy Awards® Gala, 25 February 2007, by Clint Eastwood for "Morricone's magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music.” Eastwood translated into English as Morricone read his acceptance speech in Italian.

Morricone has never received an Oscar, although he has earned five Academy Award nominations for original scores, DAYS OF HEAVEN (1978), THE MISSION (1986), THE UNTOUCHABLES (1987), BUGSY (1991) and MALẺNA (2000).

It was fitting for the Oscar presentation was made by Eastwood, long associated with Morricone and director Sergio Leone in the so-called "spagetti westerns." Born in Rome, Morricone was hired in 1964 by Leone and began a long collaboration with him, although Morricone's career has spanned most film genres from comedy and romance to horror.

The bulk of his work has been on Italian films, including THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY; A FISTFULL OF DOLLARS; ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA; and CINEMA PARADISO. Yet, Morricone has composed memorable scores for such international titles as BULWORTH; IN THE LINE OF FIRE; LA CAGE AUX FOLLES; and TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA. Due for a 2008 release is his current project, LENINGRAD.
More about Morricone.

Also, the Board of Governors voted to honor Sherry Lansing, the former chairman of Paramount Communications Motion Picture Group, and first woman to head a major movie studio, with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
Tom Cruise presented the golden statuette at the gala. The Hersholt Award is given to an individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.

Lansing helped Dr. Armand Hammer form the nonprofit organization Stop Cancer and serves on its board. She is on the board of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, founded to honor excellence in basic and clinical science, and is a trustee of the American Association for Cancer Research. In addition, she serves on the Citizens’ Oversight Committee of the California Institute for Stem Cell Research, on the American Red Cross Board of Governors Advisory Committee and is a trustee of the Carter Center, the human rights organization formed by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn. She also serves as a regent of the University of California.

A graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, Lansing got her feet wet in Hollywood as an actress, a career she quickly abandoned for production. She joined Talent Associates as an executive in charge of development in 1974, moving to MGM in 1975. Two years later, she became vice president in charge of production at Columbia Pictures.

She was named president of 20th Century-Fox Productions in 1980, and in 1983 formed Jaffe-Lansing Productions with Stanley Jaffe. After Jaffe was appointed president of Paramount Communications in 1990, Jaffe-Lansing Productions disbanded, and Lansing became chairman of the Motion Picture Group in 1992. Viacom became the parent company of Paramount Communications in 1993 after a hostile takeover fight with Barry Diller.

Under pressure from Viacom's Chief Executive Sumner Redstone, she resigned that position when her contract expired in 2000. While at Paramount, Lansing was responsible for the studio's biggest hit, FORREST GUMP, among others.
More about Lansing.

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