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The Academy Governors Do the Right Thing

The Academy Governors Do the Right Thing

The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted August 25 to present Honorary Awards to Spike Lee and Gena Rowlands. The coveted Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award goes to Debbie Reynolds, best known for classic “Singin’ in the Rain.” They’ll pick up their gold statues at Hollywood and Highland at the untelevised Governors Awards on November 14. (There’s no Thalberg award this year; no word yet on who will produce next year’s Oscar show.) 
Spike Lee was memorably “robbed,” 25 years ago, when he was nominated for screenplay but not directing for his breakout hit “Do the Right Thing.” NYU’s graduate school artistic director, who at age 58 is on the young side for this award, made his debut with his NYU thesis film, “Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads,” which won a Student Academy Award® in 1983.  His other indie features include “She’s Gotta Have It,” “School Daze” and “Jungle Fever,” which earned Samuel L. Jackson the best supporting actor prize at Cannes; he also directed mainstream studio pictures “Malcolm X” and “Inside Man.” He was also nominated for his documentary “4 Little Girls.”  Lee’s other features include “Mo’ Better Blues,” “Jungle Fever,” “Crooklyn,” “He Got Game,” “25th Hour,” “Miracle at St. Anna” and “Red Hook Summer.”  

WATCH: NYU Professor Spike Lee on Backing New Models 

Gena Rowlands was nominated for Academy Awards for her lead performances in “A Woman under the Influence” (1974) and “Gloria” (1980), both directed by her husband/collaborator, John Cassavetes.  She launched her career on the New York stage and in live television in the 1950s and has appeared in 40 feature films to date, from “The High Cost of Loving” in 1958 to “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks,” which she starred in earlier this year.  Her other notable films include “Lonely Are the Brave,” “Faces,” “Minnie and Moskowitz,” “Opening Night,” “Another Woman,” “Unhook the Stars,” “Hope Floats,” “Playing by Heart,” “The Notebook” and “Broken English.” 
Reynolds was a founding member of the Thalians, a charitable organization conceived and sustained by entertainers to promote awareness and treatment of mental health issues. She served as the group’s president almost continuously from 1957 to 2011, adding numerous terms as board chair and frequently presiding over its annual fundraising gala.  Her tireless efforts have enabled the Thalians to contribute millions to the Mental Health Center at Cedars-Sinai and to UCLA’s Operation Mend, which helps military veterans recover from the physical and psychological wounds of war.  Reynolds has appeared in more than 40 feature films, including “The Tender Trap,” “A Catered Affair” and “Mother,” and received a 1964 Oscar nomination for her lead performance in “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”
The Honorary Award, an Oscar statuette, is given “to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy.”
The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, also an Oscar statuette, is given “to an individual in the motion picture arts and sciences whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.”

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