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Reel winners

The American Society of Cinematographers gave movie makers a warm-up to Academy night at this year’s ASC awards dinner. In a star-studded gala, the organization honored Caleb Deschanel for his work on “The Patriot,” starring Malibu man-of-note Mel Gibson. Deschanel is also nominated for the cinematography Oscar and will find out next week whether he can best “Gladiator,” “Malena,” “O Brother” and “Hidden Dragon, Crouching Tiger” for the coveted prize. The group gave its episodic television award to Tom Del Ruth for NBC’s “The West Wing.”

Vittorio Storaro was presented with the organization’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. The legendary lensman is the visionary behind such cinematic masterpieces as “Apocalypse Now,” “Reds” and “The Last Emperor.” Storaro thanked godfather of film Francis Ford Coppola for bringing him into international cinema and expressed his heartfelt thanks for the honor, saying, “It means that I left an imprint that can be followed by a new generation of cinematographers.”

Color me unprepared

“I was not prepared for this,” gasped Malibu diva Barbra Streisand upon receiving the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award. “I didn’t think my life and career could fill up a whole evening.” That it could came as no surprise to longtime pals Lauren Bacall, Anjelica Huston, Ryan O’Neal, Kris Kristofferson and Liz Taylor, as well as hundreds of others who turned out to celebrate the one and only Ms. B on her night of nights.

The stage at the Beverly Hills Hotel was warm, romantic and very Barbra, dressed up with a baby grand piano, antique furnishings, Tiffany lamps and pink roses. The evening’s entertainment came courtesy of composer and F.O.B. Marvin Hamlish and featured a retrospective of Barbra’s many film works, including “Funny Girl,” “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever,” “The Way We Were,” “A Star Is Born,” “Yentel,” “Prince of Tides,” “Hello, Dolly!” well, you get the idea.

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“This is an historic night for AFI,” said Jean Pinker Fistenberg, AFI’s director and CEO. “Not only is Streisand the first woman to be honored as a director, she is more. You are a national treasure.”

This national treasure is in good company, joining past honorees like Alfred Hitchcock, Gregory Peck, Billy Wilder, Jimmy Stewart, Dustin Hoffman, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford. Clearly the multitalented Oscar winner was delighted to be part of the club. “I can’t tell you how deeply humbled I am to be in the company of men and women who have come before me.”

Love story

Linda Hamilton stepped out to the Ahmanson Theater to catch the opening-night performance of “Romeo & Juliet.” The famous tale of Cupid’s star-crossed lovers and the mortal feud between the Capulets and the Montagues was directed by Sir Peter Hall, who returned to the Ahmanson following last season’s critically acclaimed production of “Amadeus.”

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