THE HUMAN TOUCH
Mega producer Steven Spielberg is the man behind many a mega hit, but recently it was his pal Jeffrey Katzenberg who was enjoying the limelight. Spielberg’s USC Shoah Foundation Institute honored the DreamWorks animation chief for his many professional accomplishments as well as his tireless commitment to philanthropic causes. The institute presented him with its prestigious Ambassadors for Humanity Award at a starry evening, which was hosted by “The Late Late Show” host Craig Ferguson. Spielberg had words of praise for his longtime buddy saying, “Jeffrey is an ambassador of many charitable movements, inspiring and leading at the same time. When Jeffrey believes in something, his personal commitment is extraordinary, and his time and energy are focused like a laser beam to make sure that funds and awareness are brought to bear immediately.”
Katzenberg has supported the Shoah Foundation from the very beginning. The institute collects and maintains an archive of nearly 52,000 video testimonies of Holocaust survivors and witnesses in 32 languages and from 56 countries. USC President Max Nikias spoke of the importance of the project and the difference that Katzenberg is helping to make. “Jeffrey Katzenberg shares USC’s commitment to education and to young people,” Nikias said. “He is a determined community advocate for so many causes and it is an honor to recognize him.” The evening of honor wrapped up on a high note with a special musical performance by Jennifer Hudson.
A LIST OF ACCOLADES
Congrats to local Sean Penn, who was honored with the Stanley Kramer Award by the Producers Guild of America. Penn was recognized for his recent work on behalf of the country of Haiti, which was devastated last year following a powerful earthquake. Penn founded the J/P HRO Haitian Relief Organization, which spent months distributing food and medical supplies as well as rebuilding schools and hospitals. In previous years, the Kramer award honored socially minded films like “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Hotel Rwanda.”
This marks the first time the award has been given to an individual. Penn, who has starred in acclaimed movies like “Dead Man Walking” and “Milk,” was praised by PGA’s Paula Wagner who said, “Sean is a committed activist who has used his extraordinary talents and influence to shed light on powerful stories, causes and individuals through film, journalism and global humanitarian organizations.”
The Stanley Kramer Award was named after the famed filmmaker who was behind issue-oriented movies like “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and “The Defiant Ones.” The accolades have always rolled in for Academy Award winner Penn who won Oscars for “Mystic River” (2003) and “Milk” (2008), received the Hollywood Humanitarian Award by the Hollywood Film Festival and the Commanders Award for Service by the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.