By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood October 12, 2007 at 6:49AM
At Friday night's 22nd annual American Cinematheque Ball at the Beverly Hilton (which AMC will air December 5), honoree Julia Roberts sat with director Mike Nichols, husband Danny Moder, Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Leslee Dart, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, and Kevin Huvane of CAA. "It's hard to think when my dress is this snug," said Roberts after accepting the award from Pelican Brief co-star Denzel Washington. "More than anything, I am just the most proud wife and mother of the three most amazing children and that is all I could ever ask for. And the widening of my life and my hips is the true gift of my husband Danny, who I'd just be so lonely without."
Hanks started out the night on a high note by delivering hilarious advice for fellow Roberts co-stars. Remember Q.U.A.K.E., he said: Q is for Question. Everyone always asks what it's like to work with Julia Roberts. Answer: "She's the boilerplate, the gold standard," he said. U is for being Upstaged: "As when another actor steals your focus; you might well be a waffle iron sitting in a tree; no one is looking at you." A is for the Asterisk that will appear after your name: as, "appeared with Julia Roberts in film blank." K is for Knowledge: "No matter how good shape you're in, Julia Roberts is going home to a husband who is way better looking than you." E is for Everybody: "Everybody loves Julia Roberts, absolutely everybody."
Richard Gere, David Letterman and George Clooney sent clips. (Clooney is shooting the Coens' Burn After Reading in NYC. His clip was shot in a men's room; he looks down when a man's foot nudges his. When he looks into the next stall, he sees Brad Pitt.) Folks who actually showed up and delivered good tribute were Hanks, Marcia Gay Harden, Garry Marshall, Mike Nichols, Natalie Portman and fellow southerner Shirley MacLaine, who admired Roberts' "emotional discipline and control" as a young actress in Steel Magnolias as well as her eyebrows: "They changed with every picture," she said. "The most important journey you'll ever take is with yourself."
Others who did the usual same-old same-old were Sally Field, Dermot Mulroney, Blair Underwood, Bruce Willis and presenter Denzel Washington, her co-star in Pelican Brief. (There was no sign of Steven Soderbergh.) Top studio brass from Universal, Fox, Disney, Paramount and Paramount Vantage were in the house.
I saw some more of Charlie Wilson's War (the trailer makes the Mike Nichols comedy look funny; it's written by Aaron Sorkin) at the Ball. The clip showed Roberts, as a Texas billionaire, and Hanks, as a Texas congressman, in a luxurious bathroom, presumably post-sex, as he takes a bubble bath and she explains (while shoveling on mascara to rival Tammy Faye Bakker) why he has to wage war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. It was a funny bit but I need to see the whole movie. As for the clip for Fireflies in the Garden, in which Roberts fiercely emoted opposite philandering husband Willem Dafoe, I really need to see the whole movie.
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]