Malibu Seen

SEA OF LOVE

It was an offer we couldn’t refuse: American Cinematheque’s tribute to legendary actor Al Pacino. It seemed like half of Hollywood turned out for the fete, or at least just about every big star who’s worked with the veteran performer. And who hasn’t?

Locals Charlize Theron and Ed Harris were on hand, so was Keanu Reeves, James Caan, Jon Voight, Marisa Tome, Andy Garcia, John Goodman, Bruce Willis… well, you get the picture.

A-listers on the red carpet were greeted by a line of paparazzi so long they had to be issued pole positions. Willis, looking quite Godfatheresque in black on black, recalled how seeing Pacino as Michael Corleone in “The Godfather” changed his life. “It was then I decided I wanted to be an actor. It sounded like a bad idea at the time,” he said with a shrug. “But it worked out.”

Once safely inside the confines of the Beverly Hills Hotel Ballroom, classic Pacino clips played on the wide screen. Every so often you’d glance up and see a scruffy Pacino as “Serpico,” a young Pacino in “Dog Day Afternoon,” a Shakespearean “Pacino in the “Merchant of Venice.”

The fashion conscious crowd sported everything from ’50s vintage polka dots to red taffeta gowns, Norma Desmond style turbans to thigh high boots. And of course, more than a few tipped their hats with ’20s-style fedoras.

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The tribute opened with a montage of movie clips showcasing the impressive number in which AP has used the “F word.” And few have mastered the word so convincingly.

The program was emceed by Al’s “Two for the Money” co-star Jeremy Piven. Jeremy introduced pals like James Caan, who gave us the lowdown from back in the day. He said Paramount chief Bob Evans wanted to cast name-stars Robert Redford or Ryan O’Neil for Pacino’s part in “The Godfather.” It was only when director Francis Ford Coppola threatened to walk that the unknown actor was cast. “No Francis, no Al,” Caan quipped, “[It]probably would have been the same movie.”

The annual Life Achievement Award is the most important fundraiser of the year for the American Cinematheque, which gave the historic Egyptian Theater in Hollywood and the Aero Theater in Santa Monica a new lease on life and provides extensive year-round film programs.

Pacino joins an impressive roster of past honorees, which includes Steven Spielberg, Sean Connery, Mel Gibson, Martin Scorsese and Denzel Washington.

Bruce Willis presented Pacino with the award to great applause. Taking the stage, AP was clearly moved, saying, “I wish I could say more about what’s in my heart, but I’ve always needed a writer.”

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