Ray Romano and Patricia Heaton cozy up at the Kodak Theater. Photo by Alex Berliner

Chris Albrecht doesn’t seem to have any shortage of friends in Hollywood. The HBO honcho was honored for his long-term commitment to mentoring at the Kodak Theater, and a slew of high-profile pals turned out to cheer him on. The first annual Stand Up for Mentoring bash drew locals like Ray Romano, David and Linda Foster, Haim and Cheryl Saban. Also in attendance were soap star turned Desperate Housewives hunk Jesse Metcalf and entertainment titan Peter Chernin.

After a casual buffet, it was time to laugh it all off with stand- up performances by Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Maher and Chris Rock. Proceeds from the evening will go to benefit the Los Angeles Mentoring Project, which has given thousands of local kids a foot in the door and a leg up in life.


George Lucas has been given one of Hollywood’s greatest honors. The man who made “Star Wars” an out-of-this-world sensation was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Film Institute at the Kodak Theater. The USC film grad made a name for himself back in 1973 with a low-budget flick called “American Graffiti.” The film turned into a major hit featuring a 26-year-old Richard Dreyfuss, a newcomer named Harrison Ford and Ron Howard-with hair!

Lucas went on to make Harrison a household name in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and a string of Indiana Jones adventures as well as space hero Hahn Solo in “Star Wars,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.” He also gave the world a new vocabulary and a new cast of unmistakable characters, including robots R2-D2 and C-3PO, evil-doer Darth Vader, fuzzy flyer Chewbacca, pointy-eared sage Yoda and gigantic Jabba the Hut. In keeping with tradition, AFI showed off some of “Star Wars'” most memorable moments, giving gala-goers a glimpse of how sophisticated special effects have become. The current release, “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” is light years away from the first installment of the saga. By today’s standards, Chewbacca resembles a walking shag carpet, Princess Leia’s hairdo looks like two cinnamon rolls and the light sabers could have come from Toys R Us.

Times have changed, and through it all Lucas has remained on the cutting edge. The filmmaker joins a very impressive list of past AFI honorees, which includes legends like Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Jack Nicholson, Clint Eastwood and Gregory Peck.

With “Indiana Jones 4” and a “Star Wars” TV series in development, Lucas remains a force to be reckoned with.

A galaxy of stars beamed in for the bask, including Star Trek’s Captain Kirk. With a small battalion of “Star Wars” troopers at his side, he offered up a special rendition of “My Way,” wrapping up with the line “live long, you’ve prospered enough.”