Thousands of guests filled the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles on Friday for the 33rd American Film Institute Life Achievement Award. This time to honor George Lucas.
Next to Oscar’s lifetime achievement kudo, the AFI award is one of the highest honors for a career in film. The black-tie tribute celebrated Lucas’ extraordinary career with many of his colleagues, friends and family present. Steven Spielberg presented Lucas with the honor at evening’s end. When time came for Lucas to accept the award, he spent much of his time paying tribute to his mentor Francis Ford Coppola, his friend and "competitor" Spielberg and, most important to Lucas, his three adopted children.
Among guests participating in the tribute were three previous AFI Life Achievement Award recipients–Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks and Spielberg. Also in attendance: Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Duval, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Jimmy Smits, Billy Dee Williams and John Williams. AFI CEO Jean Picker Firstenberg was also in attendance as was AFI board of trustees chair (and head honcho of the Sony Corp.) Sir Howard Stringer.
The tribute, both heartfelt and playful, focused on the filmmaker’s multifaceted contributions to the art and technology of filmmaking, as well as the impact of the epic Star Wars series. In addition to an homage given by guests including Tom Hanks and Harrison Ford, the evening featured clips from Lucas’ films presented with commentary from five Academy Award winning directors–Spielberg, James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola, Ron Howard and Peter Jackson.
The evening began with eloquent remarks from AFI Board of Trustees chair Howard Stringer. It quickly segued to comedy with a surprise opening song from William Shatner. Performing a modified version of My Way, Shatner was accompanied by a chorus line of dancing stormtroopers. Later in the evening, a tribute to Lucas’ devotion to his family was paired with an acoustic performance by Maroon 5–his children’s favorite band.
Lucas joins a distinguished list of recipients of AFI’s Life Achievement Award including Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Barbra Streisand, Harrison Ford, Dustin Hoffman, Steven Spielberg, Jack Nicholson, Elizabeth Taylor, Sidney Poitier, Gregory Peck, Barbara Stanwyck, Billy Wilder, Fred Astaire, James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock, Bette Davis, Orson Welles, James Cagney and John Ford.
The two-hour special event was taped for telecast on USA Network on Monday, June 20, 2005 at 9:00 p.m.