Emmy-winning director Robert Mandel is stepping down as Dean of the AFI Conservatory after nine years with the graduate level film school. Mandel, who directed Independence Day (1983), F/X (1986), Touch and Go (1986), Big Shots (1987), School Ties (1992), The Substitute (1996), and A Season on the Brink (2002), will remain on faculty at AFI while returning to filmmaking. His television credits include directing the X-Files pilot and episodes of Nash Bridges, Prison Break, and LOST. Mandel is an AFI Conservatory alumnus himself, Class of 1979 who established an AFI Fellow-Alumni mentoring program and career office for students and added acting, independent film finance, television, and showrunning courses to the curriculum.
Continuing their tradition of turning the AFI‘s signature awards event into a real family affair, the American Film Institute announced today that Jane Fonda will become the 42nd recipient of the prestigious AFI Life Achievement Award on June 5, 2014. The organization said the event will take place in Los Angeles but has not yet disclosed the venue. It will be taped for later airing that month on TNT, followed by encores on Turner Classic Movies.
Henry Fonda was the 6th recipient of the honor in 1978 making the Fondas the first father/daughter to win the prize. In other familial pairings AFI has similarly honored both Kirk (1991) and Michael Douglas (2009) as the only father/son combo and Warren Beatty (2008) and Shirley MacLaine (2012) as the only brother/sister to be named in the history of the award.
For my money Jane Fonda is an inspired choice. A two-time Oscar winner (Klute, Coming Home) and 7-time nominee, she has proven she can do it all, and even after a self-imposed 15-year retirement has come back with a vengeance most recently earning an Emmy nomination for her recurring role in HBO’s The Newsroom. But following in the footsteps of her iconic father and matching him as not only a major film star but adding producer to her credits too, Fonda’s varied — and sometimes controversial — career has truly met the AFI benchmark of “standing the test of time”. The award would be deserved if only for one of her signature achievements in producing and co-starring in the film version of On Golden Pond, the vehicle for which her father won a long overdue Best Actor Oscar (along with Best Actress Katharine Hepburn) shortly before he died. But she also has a great string of classics in addition to her Oscar winners including Cat Ballou, They Shoot Horses Don’t They?, Julia and The China Syndrome. Her most recent Oscar nomination in 1986 was for the wildly underrated Sidney Lumet film The Morning After, one of my favorite Fonda performances. She’s also equally great in comedy, something many people forget, but consider Barefoot In The Park opposite Robert Redford in 1967, 1980′s Nine To Five and even her comeback role opposite Jennifer Lopez in 2005′s Monster-In-Law which turned into a sizable hit.
And don’t even get me started on Barbarella. In terms of AFI Life Achievement, she’s done it all. Here’s the release:
The American Film Institute‘s two-year graduate film program the AFI Conservatory has received a scholarship funding boost for the coming year that totals $6.2 million, nearly three times the total of previous years. The AFI Board of Directors raised $2.3 million on the backs of a $1 million challenge grant by chairman Robert Daly and gifts by Board of Trustees chairman Howard Stringer and Lawrence Herbert. An additional $3.5 million came from donors including David Geffen, Alan Horn, Terry Semel and the Time Warner Foundation, with the new total going 100% toward the program’s 200 fellows. AFI also announced two new initiatives tied to the the new funding, with more in the works. Here’s that part of the release announcing the gains:
It was completely appropriate that AFI‘s 41st Life Achievement Award honoree Mel Brooks made his entrance at the Dolby Theatre to the Steven Sondheim song, “Comedy Tonight”. It set the tone immediately for a very different evening than any that had come before at this annual event. Look at the list of the 40 previous AFI honorees, and there’s not a single solely comedic filmmaker or actor in the whole bunch. Yes, there are some — like Billy Wilder, Mike Nichols, Shirley MacLaine and Tom Hanks — who have made a few classic comedies but no one whose whole screen career is built on laughs. The AFI finally corrected that glaring omission Thursday night.
“Ladies and gentlemen, tonight the American Film Institute honors the art — and the farts — of American film,” said AFI Board Of Trustees Chair Sir Howard Stringer in welcoming the star-studded crowd. “When I telephoned Mel to tell him the AFI had voted him in as the 2013 recipient, he responded instantly, ‘What took you so long?’ Fair enough. Comedy is routinely short-changed at many awards ceremonies , particularly the Oscars. It is often said comedy is harder than drama because funny is like trying to catch lightning in a bottle. That makes Mel, without question, Hollywood’s principal lightning conductor.”
Los Angeles, CA, Monday May 20, 2013 – Martin Scorsese will present Mel Brooks with the American Film Institute’s 41st Life Achievement Award – America’s highest honor for a career in film. The private black tie gala will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on June 6
June is the season for graduations around the nation and the American Film Institute is no different. After handing out their 40th Life Achievement Award less than a week ago to Shirley MacLaine today the focus was on those just embarking on a …
With just a little more than two weeks to go before its opening-night world premiere gala of Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar on November 3, the American Film Institute has just announced the long list of Centerpiece Galas and Special Screenings for its 25th edition — AFI FEST 2011 presented by Audi. Unlike the Eastwood coup, the lineup doesn’t include any other world or North American premieres and instead is made up of films recently seen in Toronto, Venice, Telluride or New York or combinations of all of the above festivals.
The AFI Fest, which runs November 3-10, is becoming known as the festival of galas, with at least one big red-carpet event every night of the week. Slated as Centerpiece Galas this session are Luc Besson’s The Lady (November 4), which played the Mill Valley Film Festival last week in a version now several minutes shorter than its well-received Toronto Film Festival premiere; Roman Polanski’s Carnage (November 5); My Week With Marilyn (November 6); The Artist (November 8); and Steve McQueen’s controversial Shame (November 9). Also on November 7, the fest will present an evening with Pedro Almodovar, this year’s Guest Artistic Director, who will be presenting his 25-year-old classic Law of Desire and participating in a special onstage conversation. All will be presented at the Chinese theater in Hollywood.
He may have only received his first major big-screen break at the age of 50 in 1987′s Street Smart, but Morgan Freeman has created such a distinguished body of work in the quarter of a century since then that Thursday night he was named the 39th recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award for a career in film. Just after the honor was announced by the American Film Institute on October 11th, I ran into Freeman at an awards-season event and he was ebullient, telling me, “Now I am one of the big boys.” During Thursday’s warm ceremony on Sony’s Stage 15 and at the after-party nearby on the lot, Freeman still seemed just as happy about the honor.
In fact, after he accepted the award from his Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby co-star and director Clint Eastwood and made his speech, he became the first of the AFI’s 39 honorees to actually remain on stage and sing along to one of his theme songs, “Lean On Me,” from the 1989 film in which he starred as real-life school principal Joe Clark. Earlier in the evening, Garth Brooks and a large chorus sang the song — actually twice, as a snafu forced them to perform it again. The black-tie industry crowd didn’t seem to mind at all.
Among those in attendance who offered toasts or onstage tributes with personal anecdotes about Freeman were Sidney Poitier, AFI Board of Trustees chair Howard Stringer, AFI president and CEO Bob Gazzale, Betty White, Samuel L. Jackson, Rita Moreno, Don Cheadle, Matthew Broderick, Helen Mirren, Cuba Gooding Jr, Matthew McConaughey, Casey Affleck, Forest Whitaker and Tim Robbins. Filmed tributes were also shown from Chris Rock, Dan Ackroyd, Steven Spielberg, David Fincher and Ashley Judd.