“Storytellers, welcome,” said AFI president and CEO Bob Gazzale as he opened the AFI Awards 2013 luncheon today. “We open each AFI gathering with a single word: ‘Relax’. You have won. Each of you, and more importantly, all of you, because here you are one community of artists gathered in this room for what we hope to be a bit of respite from your job, but not from your work. Gone from this moment are the ratings, and red carpets and box office and all that you have to endure to sell art. Our goal is nothing short of epiphany, that you feel proud when you consider the compendium and see your place in it”. Gazzale’s welcome came before what appeared to be all of the heavy hitters currently running Hollywood as well as 20 tables full of artists repping AFI’s choices for the year’s Top Ten movies (12 Years A Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Fruitvale Station, Gravity, Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, Saving Mr. Banks, The Wolf Of Wall Street) and Top Ten TV programs (The Americans, Breaking Bad, Game Of Thrones, The Good Wife, House Of Cards, Mad Men, Masters Of Sex, Orange Is The New Black, Scandal, Veep).
For my money , this is the most relaxing and fun awards event of the year. There are no losers, no acceptance speeches, only good vibes. And if you want to network, this is the A-list networking opportunity of the season. Where else are you going to find just about every studio head in the same room including Sony’s Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton, Warner Bros’ Kevin Tsujihara, Fox’s Jim Gianopulos, Disney’s Alan Horn, Paramount’s Brad Grey, and Fox Searchlight’s Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula? They were mixing it it up with the TV side including CBS’ Les Moonves (who also was there for CBS Films’ Inside Llewyn Davis), Fox’s Peter Rice and FX’s John Landgraf, and AMC’s Charlie Collier among many others including new kid on the block Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, who had two shows among the Top Ten, House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black. It was his first time to this party and he was impressed. Oh, and did I mention both directing icons Martin Scorsese (with Wolf Of Wall Street) and Steven Spielberg (repping FX’s The Americans) were there, but quite frankly just about everyone in this room at the Four Seasons Hotel was someone. Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs was also taking it all in and told me how she’s suddenly getting lots of calls after it was announced earlier today she would be delivering news of Oscar nominations next Thursday with Thor aka Chris Hemsworth. She’s excited to say the least.