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Academy Governors Pick November Award Winners: Katzenberg, Needham, Pennebaker and Stevens, Jr.

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood September 6, 2012 at 2:17AM

Wednesday night the Academy board of governors convened to pick this year's winners of the Academy's Governors Awards. DreamWorks animation czar Jeffrey Katzenberg will take home the coveted Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award on December 1.
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Hal Needham is a legendary stunt performer and coordinator who has worked on more than 300 feature films including "The Spirit of St. Louis," "How the West Was Won," "Blazing Saddles," "Little Big Man" and "Chinatown." A pioneer in improving stunt technology and safety procedures, Needham also co-founded Stunts Unlimited, and is known for mentoring young stunt performers. In 1986, the Academy presented Needham with a Scientific and Engineering Award for the design and development of the Shotmaker Elite camera car and crane, which allows filmmakers greater versatility in shooting action sequences. Needham made his directorial debut with "Smokey and the Bandit." He went on to direct such features as "Hooper" and the "Cannonball Run" films.

D. A. Pennebaker, a pioneer of modern nonfiction film, has directed more than 20 feature-length documentaries, including "Don't Look Back," "Monterey Pop," "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars," "Moon over Broadway," "Kings of Pastry" and "The War Room," for which he received an Oscar® nomination. During his career of more than six decades, Pennebaker has inspired generations of filmmakers with his "you are here" style. He is considered one of the founders of the cinéma vérité movement, beginning with his collaboration on the seminal 1960 film "Primary."

George Stevens, Jr. has spent a lifetime celebrating and preserving the heritage of motion pictures. After several years at the United States Information Agency, where he championed the work of young documentary filmmakers and was Oscar-nominated for producing the documentary short subject "The Five Cities of June," Stevens went on to become the founding director of the American Film Institute. Under his leadership, the AFI established the Center for Advanced Film Studies, created the AFI Life Achievement Award and embarked on a host of educational initiatives. In 1977, Stevens co-founded the Kennedy Center Honors, which he has produced for the past 34 years.

A studio executive, film producer and philanthropist, Jeffrey Katzenberg has been instrumental in raising money for education, art and health-related causes, particularly those benefiting the motion picture industry. During more than two decades as chairman of the board for the Motion Picture and Television Fund, he helped to raise $200 million for the organization, created "The Night Before" event and worked to expand the MPTF campus. He also serves on the boards of such organizations as the California Institute of the Arts, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Geffen Playhouse, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Katzenberg currently serves as CEO of DreamWorks Animation.
 

This article is related to: Awards, Awards, Oscars


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.