Women to take spotlight at Screen Actors Guild awards ceremony

Kristen Bell
Updated 14 December 2017
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Women to take spotlight at Screen Actors Guild awards ceremony

LOS ANGELES: The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) ceremony will be a women’s affair, organizers of one of Hollywood’s biggest awards shows said, a tribute at a time when the entertainment industry has been roiled by a sexual misconduct scandal as well as the struggle for gender equality in front of and behind the camera.
Women will present all 13 of the SAG awards at the Jan. 21 dinner in Los Angeles honoring the best of film and television, in a first for the organization, which represents some 160,000 actors.
“We are acknowledging the year of the woman,” said Kathy Connell, the executive producer of the ceremony.
The ceremony will also be hosted by a woman, “The Good Place” actress Kristen Bell.
“Our women are some of the most recognizable, most famous women in the world and they don’t have economic equality. They don’t have creative equality, and as we have learned, they don’t have safety either,” Connell said.
“If these famous women don’t have it, then what does it say about the rest of the country?“
The ceremony details were disclosed the same day that SAG announced the nominations for the 2018 awards.
Accusations of sexual misconduct against powerful men in entertainment, industry and politics have forced multiple Americans to step down or be fired from their jobs in the past three months.
Connell said the decision also reflected the impact of the January 2017 women’s marches that brought millions into the streets worldwide.
For all of the accomplishments of women in Hollywood, only one — Kathryn Bigelow — has ever won an Oscar for best director. And women made up only 17 percent of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers working on the top 250 biggest-grossing movies in 2016, according to a study by the San Diego-based Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.
SAG’s nominations announced on Wednesday for movie and television performances featured many female-centric stories, including mother-daughter film “Lady Bird,” ice-skating movie “I, Tonya,” TV series “Big Little Lies” and wrestling drama “Glow.”
“We can only acknowledge the TV shows and the films that are offered. We don’t create them,” Connell said.
“There were quite a number of women-focused projects this year and I’m happy to say our membership decided to acknowledge many of them.”


Julia Louis-Dreyfus gets a top award for comedy

Updated 22 October 2018
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Julia Louis-Dreyfus gets a top award for comedy

  • Louis-Dreyfus is the 21st Mark Twain recipient, joining a list that includes Richard Pryor, George Carlin and Carol Burnett

WASHINGTON: After a 35-year acting career and with two iconic television characters to her name — Elaine Benes of “Seinfeld” and foul-mouthed Vice President Selina Meyer — Julia Louis-Dreyfus has been honored with the Mark Twain Prize for lifetime achievement in comedy.
On Sunday night at Washington’s Kennedy Center, the 57-year-old actress received a stream of testimonials from celebrities including Jerry Seinfeld, Stephen Colbert and 2010 Mark Twain recipient Tina Fey, touching on the multiple aspects of her career.
“We both started comedy in Chicago,” said Fey, paying tribute by tracking the similarities between their lives.
“We both moved on to ‘Saturday Night Live.’ We both lost our virginity to Brad Hall,” referring to Louis-Dreyfus’ husband and former SNL cast mate, sitting next to the honoree. Fey praised the “secret precision” of her comedy and her willingness to make her Seinfeld character so flawed.
“Julia let Elaine be selfish and petty and sarcastic and a terrible, terrible dancer,” Fey said. “Julia’s never been afraid to be unlikable — not on screen and not in person.”
Louis-Dreyfus is the 21st Mark Twain recipient, joining a list that includes Richard Pryor, George Carlin and Carol Burnett. Bill Cosby, the winner in 2009, had his award rescinded earlier this year after he was convicted of three counts of aggravated indecent assault.
During last year’s ceremony to honor David Letterman, Cosby’s name was never mentioned. But this year, two of the performers felt comfortable making Cosby jokes. Late night host Stephen Colbert displayed a sign proclaiming, “167 days since the last Un-Twaining.”
With his fingers crossed, he told Louis-Dreyfus, “I think you’ll be OK.”
Later Keegan-Michael Key come onstage, dressed as Mark Twain himself and proceeded to roast many of the previous award recipients. When a picture of Cosby was briefly shown, Michael-Key quickly moved things along and said, “It’s OK, he’s not watching,” then added that he doubted PBS was a popular channel “in the penitentiary.”
Seinfeld, while on the red carpet before the ceremony, recalled first meeting Louis-Dreyfus during an informal audition. His iconic sitcom, “Seinfeld,” was still in the planning stages and producer Larry David knew Louis-Dreyfus from their time together on “Saturday Night Live.”
“We had just two short pages of script, and we sat down to read the dialogue together,” Seinfeld said. “As soon as she opened her mouth, I knew she was the one.”
Seinfeld also credited Louis-Dreyfus for having the confidence and strength of personality to hold her own on what he called “a very male show.”
That confidence was evident very early for Louis-Dreyfus, who said she knew as a young child that she had a gift for comedy.
“The first time I really knew was when I stuffed raisins in my nose and my mother laughed. I ended up in the emergency room because they wouldn’t come out!” Louis-Dreyfus said before the ceremony.
Comedian Kumail Nanjiani grew up in Pakistan and never saw an episode of “Seinfeld” until he immigrated to the USas an adult.
“But I became a huge fan as soon as I moved here,” he said.
The co-writer of the movie “The Big Sick” recalled her iconic, slightly convulsive “Elaine Benes dance” on the show, which he credits to Louis-Dreyfus’ gift for physical comedy.
“There are some comedians who think physical comedy is beneath them,” he said. “But she was just fearless and ego-less.”
At the end of the night, Louis-Dreyfus accepted her award with an extended comedic bit and a few shots at new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The veteran comedic actress first drew laughs by repeatedly referencing her true life’s ambition to be a respected dramatic actress_stopping in mid-speech to deliver a monologue from Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice.”
A native of the Washington suburbs in Maryland, Louis-Dreyfus is a graduate of the elite Holton-Arms school, alma mater of Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of assault.
Louis-Dreyfus make a veiled but unmistakable reference to Ford’s testimony_framing it around her performance in high school of the play “Serendipity.”
“I can remember every single aspect of that play that night, so much so that I would testify under oath about it,” she said, to a round of laughter and applause. “But I can’t remember who drove me there or who drove me home.”
Louis-Dreyfus emerged from Chicago’s famed Second City comedy troupe before joining the cast of “Saturday Night Live.” After her nine-year run on “Seinfeld,” her turn as Vice President Selina Meyer on “Veep” earned her six consecutive Emmy Awards.
The upcoming seventh and final season of “Veep” was delayed as Louis-Dreyfus received treatment for breast cancer. That season is currently in production.
PBS will air the Twain event on Nov. 19.