Honorary Oscars go to Katzenberg, Needham, Pennebaker and Stevens

Posted by · 10:13 pm · September 5th, 2012

The release was later than anticipated but a decision was finally made by the Academy’s Board of Governors on this year’s Honorary Oscar recipients. And names long considered due for the recognition, actresses Doris Day and Angela Lansbury among them, will have to wait a little longer.

The organization has announced that stunt man Hal Needham, documentary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker and multi-hyphenate George Stevens Jr. will receive recognition at this year’s Governors Awards ceremony. DreamWorks co-founder and philanthropist Jeffrey Katzenberg has been tapped to receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

Needham’s work has been seen on more than 300 feature films, including “Blazing Saddles,” “Chinatown,” “How the West Was Won,” “Little Big Man” and “The Spirit of St. Louis.” In 1986, the Academy presented him 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. He also went onto a career as a director, from “Smokey and the Bandit” to “Canonball Run.”

Pennebaker is a pioneer of modern non-fiction filmmaking, having directed more than 20 feature documentaries. Highlights include “Don’t Look Back,” “Monterey Pop,” “The War Room” and “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.”

Stevens Jr., son of the legendary director, has spent a lifetime celebrating and preserving the heritage of motion pictures. He championed the work of young documentary filmmakers early in his career and went on to become a founding director of the AFI. In 1977, he co-founded the Kennedy Center Honors, which he has produced for the past 34 years.

Finally, Katzenberg has been instrumental in raising money for education, art and health-related causes. He helped raise $200 million during his tenure as chairman of the Motion Picture and Television Fund and also serves on the boards of organizations such as the California Institute of the Arts, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. He is also, of course, the current CEO of DreamWorks Animation.

The Governors Awards will be held on December 1 in the Ray Dolby Ballroom at the Hollywood & Highland Center and will be produced by marketing executive and Board of Governors member Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Don Mischer Productions.

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