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AFI Awards Lunch Brings Out Hollywood’s Heavy Hitters And Contenders For Season’s Ultra-Cool Event

By | Friday January 10, 2014 @ 5:14pm PST
Pete Hammond

AFI Awards 2013“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 14th Annual AFI Awards - Cocktail ReceptionWife, 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 quite14th Annual AFI Awards - Cocktail Reception 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. Read More »

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AFI Awards 2013: Top 10 Films List Is Good News For Major Studios

By | Monday December 9, 2013 @ 12:01pm PST
Pete Hammond

The American Film Institute jumped into the movie awards season today with the release of their annualThe-logo-for-this-years-AFI-Awards_event_main Movies of the Year list. 12 Years A Slave, American Hustle , Captain Phillips, Fruitvale Station, Gravity, Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, Saving Mr. Banks and The Wolf Of Wall Street are the 10 films that made the cut. And based on the recent track record AFI has had for correlation between its list and the ultimate Oscar choices for Best Picture, these films should start popping the champagne corks. Last year, AFI matched 8 of 9 Oscar nominees with Amour being the only one it did not have (foreign films are not eligible for AFI’s list). In 2011, there were the same number of matches — though eventual Oscar winner for Best Picture The Artist was a separate “honorable mention” since it also was not eligible due to its French origins. In fact, I would go on to say the AFI list is fast becoming one of the most reliable precursors in predicting the way the Academy will eventually go.

Related: AFI’s Top 10 TV Programs: ‘Homeland’ & ‘Modern Family’ Out

slaveThis year’s list seems to reflect the frontrunners for the most part indicating consensus in a very competitive year. The list is also extremely good news for the major studios, which appear to be very strong in this year’s race with two entries from Sony, two from Paramount, two from Warner Bros and one from Disney. Fox is repped through their Searchlight division by 12 Years A Slave. CBS Films also made the cut for the first time with Inside Llewyn Davis.  The Weinstein Company, usually a larger force , is repped only by their small very indie summer release Fruitvale Station, which so far has been doing very well in the initial awards races.  The Weinsteins’ higher-profile eligible films such as August: Osage County and Lee Daniels’ The Butler are missing from the lineup along with Mandela: Long Walk To Freedominsideellewyn1 and Philomena (which were not eligible —  neither was Weinstein’s Best Pic champ The King’s Speech in 2010, though it got a special mention). Other notable contenders that were eligible that were AWOL at AFI:  All Is Lost, Dallas Buyers Club, Rush , Lone Survivor, Prisoners, Blue Jasmine and Mud to name a few whose Best Picture prospects may have just taken a hit. Well that is if you take these important precursors seriously and it seems by the strong correlation that at least when it comes to AFI the Academy definitely does.

Unlike other groups, AFI does not divide its list which also includes one for the top TV programs of the year into winners and losers but rather as an “almanac documenting works of excellence that mark a moment in time”. AFI also is the only organization honoring the entire creative ensemble of the films which qualify as those that “best advance  the art of the moving image, enhance the rich cultural heritage of America’s art form, inspire audiences and artists alike, and /or make a mark on American society”.

The awards-giving season is now in full swing with weekend results from numerous critics groups including L.A. and Boston and the New York Online Critics with disparate choices that indicate this is a wide open race and anybody’s ballgame as we move into the bigger arenas of the SAG and Golden Globe nominations later this week. Here’s the official AFI  list for film: Read More »

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AFI Awards 2013: ‘Orange Is The New Black’, ‘Masters Of Sex’, ‘House Of Cards’ Among Top 10 TV Programs, ‘Homeland’ & ‘Modern Family’ Out

By | Monday December 9, 2013 @ 12:00pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

The-logo-for-this-years-AFI-Awards_event_mainThere are no hard rules for AFI‘s list of Top 10 programs of the year as the film institute tends to mix critical darlings with crowd pleasers, series, miniseries and TV movies. (Cable ratings juggernauts The Walking Dead and American Horror Story: Asylum made the AFI Awards list last year, along with the HBO movie Game Change). No longform entries on this year’s list, which features one major surprise — the omission of ABC’s Emmy-winning Modern Family, KERRY WASHINGTONwhich had been among AFI’s  Top 10 programs each of the past four years. Also MIA this season is Showtime’s drama Homeland, which made the cut the last two years. This is the most drama-heavy AFI list I can remember, with only one half-hour series, HBO’s Veep. (Netflix’s hourlong Orange Is The New Black was nominated as a comedy by the WGA but is competing as a drama for the Golden Globes and the Emmys.)

Related: AFI’s Top 10 Films: Good News For Majors

The guilty pleasure on the roster is ABC’s hot sophomore drama Scandal, landing its first major best series awards recognition.  The rest of the series have been in top awards consideration and received WGA noms last week, with the exception Game Of Thrones, which was not in the running due to a submission error. Returning from last year are Game Of Thrones, Emmy winner Breaking Bad and Mad Men. Here is the full list: Read More »

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AFI Awards Will Be Handed Out January 10

By | Tuesday September 17, 2013 @ 12:00am PDT

The American Film Institute‘s annual top 10 lists of films and TV shows will be unveiled December 9 and the AFI Awards will be handed out January 10 at an invite-only luncheon in Los Angeles. The awards honor the entire teams and are voted on by industry experts and AFI trustees. The TV submission deadline is October 25, and the film deadline is October 31.

Related: AFI Awards: A Moment Of Sanity During Oscar Madness

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AFI Awards: Hollywood Power Players Turn Out For A Moment Of Sanity During Oscar Season Madness

Pete Hammond

Between the roller-coaster ride of Thursday’s 85th Academy Award Nominations and Critics Choice Awards and this weekend’s Golden Globes mania, Friday’s annual AFI Awards Luncheon was not only a breath of fresh air in this busy season. It was a much needed event to put everything in perspective and show not only the impressive group of creative heavyweights from the year’s best movies and TV programs, but also a strong turnout of studio power players, exactly what this should all be about. It’s a celebration of the year’s best work, not another televised awards show that simply tries to divide everything into groups of winners and losers, bad jokes and nervous nominees. “Our wish for today is that this room become a respite from the noise, for us to carry you away as you carry us away. Think of it as when the lights go down in a movie theatre or a story beginning on television. We want you to feel good about your work and feel good about the people you work with because together you have created something beautiful, and in the weeks to come and the years that will pass nothing can take that away from you,” said AFI President and CEO Bob Gazzale in his opening remarks that set just the right tone. With tables for each of AFI’s 10 movies of the year (Argo, Beasts Of The Southern Wild, The Dark Knight Rises, Django Unchained, Read More »

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AFI Unveils 2012 Awards In Film And TV

By | Monday December 10, 2012 @ 11:15am PST

The American Film Institute’s annual awards of the 10 best films and TV shows are selected by scholars, film and television artists, critics and AFI Trustees. This year’s juries were chaired by producers and AFI Board of Trustees Vice Chairs Tom Pollock (movies) and Rich Frank (TV). Winners will be feted at an invitation-only luncheon January 11 in LA. Here are the lists, honoring the creative ensembles as a whole:



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AFI Awards Set For January 11, 2013

By | Monday September 10, 2012 @ 4:51pm PDT

Honorees for the 10 most outstanding films and 10 most outstanding TV shows of the year will be announced December 10 and the AFI Awards themselves are set for January 11, 2013 at a private luncheon in LA. The awards honor the entire teams and are voted on by industry experts and AFI trustees. The TV submission deadline is October 26 and the film deadline is November 1.

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AFI Awards Lunch Brings Out A-List Of Contenders

By | Friday January 13, 2012 @ 11:50pm PST
Pete Hammond

Judging by the turnout and the cool vibe in the room, today’s AFI Awards luncheon has risen to the top of must-attend award season events. The crush to get into the Four Seasons Hotel ballroom was well worth it since the people “crushing” were the likes of Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Brad Pitt, Viola Davis, George Clooney, Leonardo Di Caprio, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher and many others including executivea like Jim Gianopulos, Brad Grey, Stacey Snider and of course AFI Chairman Sir Howard Stringer who had some choice remarks in his closing speech.

This event, devoid of thank you speeches or dividing up “winners and losers” is just an old fashioned get-together in which filmmakers, execs and actors can connect, have some fish and watch some killer clip reels of what AFI deems the 10 best in both movies and TV. This year’s honorees in film were: Bridesmaids, The Descendants, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Help, Hugo, J. Edgar, Midnight In Paris, Moneyball, The Tree Of Life and War Horse. The top 10 television programs were Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Game of Thrones, The Good Wife, Homeland, Justified, Louie, Modern Family and Parks And Recreation.

After lunch AFI’s President and CEO Bob Gazzale opened the proceedings by remarking to the already award-weary attendees, many who have been plying the circuit for months, “I know … Read More »

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Shirley MacLaine To Receive AFI Life Achievement Award On June 7th

By | Sunday October 9, 2011 @ 12:33pm PDT

Shirley MacLaine has been named the 40th recipient of the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award. The 77-year-old MacLaine will receive the tribute during a gala ceremony next June 7 that will be broadcast later that month on TV Land. In announcing the selection, AFI board of trustees chair Howard Stringer said, “Shirley MacLaine is a powerhouse of personality that has illuminated screens large and small across six decades. From ingenue to screen legend, Shirley has entertained a global audience through song, dance, laughter and tears, and her career as writer, director and producer is even further evidence of her passion for the art form and her seemingly boundless talents.” The 1984 Oscar winner as Best Actress for Terms of Endearment is being honored by AFI four years after her younger brother Warren Beatty was in 2008.

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2011 AFI Awards Scheduled For January 13

By | Wednesday August 24, 2011 @ 1:25pm PDT

LOS ANGELES, August 24, 2011 – AFI AWARDS 2011 records each year’s most outstanding achievements in film, television and other forms of the moving image arts. The honorees-only gathering is the only form of national recognition that honors the creative ensemble as a whole — those in front of and behind the camera — and is popular with talent because there are no winners or losers. The private luncheon is sponsored by Verizon Digital Media Services, at which AFI will honor the talented teams that created the 10 most outstanding films and 10 most outstanding television programs of the year. Marking the 12th chapter in the American Film Institute’s 21st century almanac, AFI AWARDS honorees are selected by a unique jury process comprised of experts from across the moving image communities — including scholars, critics, film and television artists and AFI Trustees. For more information, go to

Television Submission Deadline
October 28, 2011

Film Submission Deadline
November 4, 2011

Honorees Announced
December 11, 2011

January 13, 2012

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Behind The Scenes Of AFI & CCMA Awards

Pete Hammond

Awards season came to the masses as Friday night’s 16th Annual Critics Choice Movie Awards was broadcast live on VH1, becoming the first movie kudos show of the year to hit the airwaves. It was a loose, sometimes hip, sometimes flip, telecast that if recent tradition is any indicator may provide a clearer picture  of what might happen February 27th. As one prominent entertainment reporter remarked, “This looks like it might be the Oscars.” Maybe. The CCMA’s have matched the Academy on Best Picture nine out of 15 times including the last four years in a row. Is it going to be five in a row? I’m told the Broadcast Critics’ voting was actually very close between The Social Network and The King’s Speech for the big prize, an indication this Oscar race is still fluid. Sony’s The Social Network grabbed four awards including Best Director for an absent David Fincher, Best Adapted Screenplay for Aaron Sorkin (who quipped, “Seven years ago Mark Zuckerberg registered the Facebook domain name, and I’m sure this movie is just what he had in mind”), and Trent Reznor’s score plus the all-important Best Picture which Jane Fonda presented at show’s end. It was fairly predictable as most critics groups have done the same thing this year. Still, these results further solidify The Social Network’s increasing frontrunner status but it’s still early.

Warner Bros’ Inception actually led the list with 6 awards but all with the exception of Best Action Movie were technical … Read More »

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AFI Top 10 Film/TV Awards Official Selections

By | Sunday December 12, 2010 @ 1:31pm PST

LOS ANGELES, December 12, 2010 – American Film Institute (AFI) today announced the official selections of AFI AWARDS 2010, AFI’s almanac that records the year’s most outstanding achievements in film, television, and other forms of the moving image arts. AFI AWARDS is the only recognition that honors the community’s creative ensembles as a whole, acknowledging the collaborative nature of the art form. Honorees are selected based on works which best advance the art of the moving image; enhance the rich cultural heritage of America’s art form; inspire audiences and artists alike; and/or make a mark on American society:




AFI AWARDS 2010 selections are made through AFI’s unique jury process in which scholars, film and television artists, critics and AFI Trustees determine the most outstanding achievements of the year, as well as provide a detailed rationale for each selection. AFI SPECIAL AWARDS are given to outstanding achievements in the moving image that do not fit into AFI’s criteria for the other honorees: Feature-Length Motion Picture Narrative fiction format, over 60 minutes in length; American Motion picture with significant creative and/or production elements from the United States. The motion picture need not be presented in

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