NEW YORK, Nov 16, (Agencies): In the wake of the deadly attacks in Paris, the entertainment world is toning down the glitz and scaling back on some of its most anticipated red carpet celebrations.
On Sunday, Lionsgate said the Monday premiere of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 in Los Angeles will be a slightly more subdued affair. Out of respect, the studio said, no interviews will be conducted at the premiere of the final chapter in the young-adult saga.
Such gestures proliferated over the weekend, as the entertainment industry reacted to the deadly attacks where the toll was highest at the Bataclan concert venue during a performance by the American rock group Eagles of Death Metal.
Instead of its regular cold opening with a sketch, Saturday Night Live opened with a tender monologue of solidarity, given by cast member Cecily Strong in French and English.
“Paris is the City of Light, and here in New York City, we know that light will never go out,” Strong said.
At the Governors Awards on Saturday night in Los Angeles, many stars expressed their sympathies for the victims and their wariness at quickly returning to show business.
“Jada (Pinkett Smith) and I were up all night,” Will Smith said. “It’s such a difficult, painful, awful, horrible situation and our hearts and our prayers go out to the families. It’s one of those things where you feel helpless. What do you do? What’s the solution? How do you help?”
Director Paul Feig said carrying on after the attacks difficult.
“It does feel odd,” Feig said. “I’m standing here in a tuxedo right now. But we honor those in Paris in solidarity with them. We love them. We love Paris. We are there all the time. We have friends there and when Paris bleeds we all bleed.”
Governors Awards recipient Spike Lee reminded hundreds of Hollywood heavy-hitters about their failure at diversity, warning, “You better get smart” about making films that represent the population — because by 2043, Caucasians are going to be the minority in the US.
Lee’s 15-minute speech was delivered in a calm and genial manner, concluding Saturday’s awards ceremony that also honored Debbie Reynolds and Gena Rowlands. Lee said when he goes through Hollywood offices, there are only white faces, and the only person of color is the man checking the name at the door. “This industry is so behind, it’s ridiculous,” he said, adding that it’s apparently easier for a black person to become president of the U.S. than the head of a studio or TV network.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs opened the evening by urging Hollywood to move ahead on diversity, saying, “Words are not enough; we need to take action.” She said the Academy has begun a program called A20/20, a five-year plan to get executives to think outside the traditional thinking when hiring, mentoring and encouraging new talent. She also addressed the deaths in Paris on Friday, saying “all of us here stand in solidarity with France and the French people.”
Isaacs also got applause when she pointed out that the evening’s three honorees are important artists “who happen to be two women and one African-American man.”
The opening and closing remarks added a sociopolitical touch to the evening, which mixed awards buzz, movie-biz nostalgia and the mingling of old and new Hollywood, as movie royalty like Robert De Niro, Jane Fonda and Ian McKellen met with Ice Cube, Saoirse Ronan and Joel Edgerton. Also there, accepting congrats for the evening, were Academy CEO Dawn Hudson, many members of the Board of Governors and the producers of the event, Bonnie Curtis and Julie Lynn.
Reynolds was unable to accept her Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in person, so her granddaughter Billie Lourd made a brief and charming acceptance speech in her place. And an audio recording was played of Reynolds, sounding deeply moved in thanking the Academy Board of Governors for the honor.
Fonda and Meryl Streep introduced the segment saluting Reynolds, with 25-plus charities benefiting from her philanthropy. The presentation made particular note of the Thalians, which Reynolds has been spearheading in its work on mental health issues since the 1950s. It also pointed out her decades-long work at preserving Hollywood heritage, including her rescue of 3,500 movie costumes.
Cate Blanchett honored Rowlands as an inspiration, for bringing the “intense authenticity and immediacy” of a live-theater experience to her film work. Laura Linney said Rowlands “smashed and destroyed” the traditional female image of her generation by creating a seismic shift in the depiction of women in her films with John Cassavetes.
The actresses were followed by film clips, narrated by Angelina Jolie, of the their work over the years. Rowlands received two standing ovations, before and after her acceptance speech, in which she paid tribute to writers and told a funny anecdote about working with her idol, Bette Davis. She was presented her trophy by son Nick Cassavetes.
The comic highlight of the evening was the interplay among Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson and Wesley Snipes as they bantered about working with Lee. Jackson hailed the filmmaker as an “American anarchist” and Washington said Lee had put more African-American people to work than anyone else in the history of this business.
At Saturday’s event, the three Governors Award Oscar honorees are allegedly the focus, but for some reason, awards strategists have come to regard the evening as a crucial step in the awards season. Many of the year’s contenders are living and/or working out of town, but studios demand that their Oscar hopefuls come to L.A. for this rite.
And every year it seems to get more intense. The Academy’s tip sheet this week offered more than 100 names of people who are front-runners, dark horses, or are connected with films that are in the mix. Tom Hooper chatted with Ridley Scott, Steve Carell talked with Jay Roach,and Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Cate Blanchett, Will Smith, and Charlotte Rampling were among the many in the buzzy crowd.