By Anne Thompson and Jacob Combs | Thompson on Hollywood June 17, 2014 at 2:01PM
We all know that Robert De Niro is a far better screen actor than he is public figure. Journalists dread interviews with the famously monosyllabic star. But this year De Niro is suddenly everywhere: at Tribeca, his New York film festival, and hawking the Tribeca-produced Sundance documentary about his artist father, "Remembering the Artist Robert De Niro, Sr.," which debuted on June 9 on HBO.
And now, The Friars Club in New York, which is best known for its celebrity roasts, is giving the screen icon a rare honor. Once a year, the private club, whose members mostly come from the worlds of film and entertainment, gather to playfully cut down one of their own. This year, though, the club is doing something its has done only four times before: giving out the Entertainment Icon Award, its highest honor. De Niro joins the small and somewhat unexpected club of past honorees: Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Douglas Fairbanks and...Tom Cruise.
Jerry Lewis, the Friars Club's 'abbot,' said of De Niro in a statement, "He is the reason we have the words 'great actor.' He's a good man and an incredible human being."
De Niro will receive the award at a black tie gala on October 7 for the Friars Foundation, the charitable arm of the eponymous club. Next up for the actor: "The Bag Man," a crime drama from first-time director David Grovic.