LOS ANGELES – The Academy Awards won't be presented until March, but the first Oscar statuettes of the season were being handed out Saturday night at a private, black-tie dinner in Hollywood.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is breaking with tradition and presenting its honorary Oscars away from the televised ceremony. Actress Lauren Bacall, producer-director Roger Corman and cinematographer Gordon Willis were to each receive at the inaugural Governors Awards event.
The winner of this year's Irving J. Thalberg Memorial Award, producer John Calley, was to also receive his trophy at the star-studded dinner. Each of the four recipients were chosen by the academy's Board of Governors.
Tom Hanks, Kirk Douglas, Anjelica Huston and Quentin Tarantino signed on as presenters for the evening, which included 600 invited guests celebrating at the Grand Ballroom above the Kodak Theatre, the same room where the annual post-Academy Awards Governors Ball is held.,
Morgan Freeman, Alec Baldwin, Steven Spielberg and other guests were serenaded by a violin quartet before the ceremony began in a room decked out in bronze and silver curtains with a giant Oscar statue at the center.
Bacall made her screen debut with Humphrey Bogart in "To Have and Have Not" in 1944. She went on to star in more than 30 films, including classics such as "The Big Sleep" and "Key Largo."
Corman has directed more than 50 films and produced more than 300 during his five-decade career, including "It Conquered the World" and 1960's "The Little Shop of Horrors."
Willis is a two-time Zelig" and "The Godfather, Part III."for "
Calley's producing credits include "Postcards from the Edge," "The Remains of the Day," for which he earned a Best Picture Oscar nomination, "Closer" and "The Da Vinci Code."
Other guests expected Saturday include Jeff Bridges, James Cameron, Dennis Hopper, Ron Howard and Julie Taymor.
The event was being taped but not televised. Excerpts will be shown during the 82nd annual Academy Awards on March 7.
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