AARP Announces Nominees for Annual ‘Movies for Grownups’ Awards’

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Feb. 8 announced it list of feature films nominated for the nonprofit’s annual “Movies for Grownups Awards,” set to broadcast on PBS March 28.

Feature films contending for the Best Picture/Best Movie category include A24’s Korean family drama Minari; Searchlight Pictures’ Nomadland; Amazon Studios’ One Night in Miami; Netflix’s The Trial of the Chicago 7; and Hulu’s The United States vs. Billie Holiday.

For two decades, AARP’s Movies for Grownups program has championed movies for the 50-plus-year-old audience, fighting industry ageism and encouraging movies that resonate with older viewers.

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“Each year, we spotlight films that feature today’s crucial issues and top grownup talents,” Tim Appelo, AARP film and TV critic, said in a statement.

Hoda Kotb, NBC News’ “Today” co-anchor, will host the awards ceremony broadcast by “Great Performances” at 8 p.m. on PBS, pbs.org/moviesforgrownups and the PBS Video app. The MFG Awards winners will be announced on March 4 at www.aarp.org/moviesforgrownups.

In the Best Actress category, nominations go to Michelle Pfeiffer (French Exit), Robin Wright (Land), Sophia Loren (The Life Ahead), Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and Frances McDormand (Nomadland). In the Best Actor category, Ralph Fiennes (The Dig), Delroy Lindo (Da 5 Bloods), Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Gary Oldman (Mank) and Tom Hanks (News of the World).

The nominees for Best Supporting Actress are Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Candice Bergen (Let Them All Talk), Jodie Foster (The Mauritanian), Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari), and Ellen Burstyn (Pieces of a Woman). In the Best Supporting Actor category, Clarke Peters (Da 5 Bloods), Demián Bichir (Land), Bill Murray (On the Rocks), Paul Raci (Sound of Metal) and Mark Rylance (The Trial of the Chicago 7).

2020 Movies for Grownups nominees for Best Director are Spike Lee (Da 5 Bloods), George C. Wolfe (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Regina King (One Night in Miami), Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7) and Lee Daniels (The United States vs. Billie Holiday).

In the inaugural year, Movies for Grownups Awards has added categories in Television/Streaming, the nominees for Best Series are HBO Max’s “Perry Mason” and “Succession,” Apple TV+ series “Ted Lasso,” Netflix’s “The Crown,” and NBC’s “This Is Us.”

In the Best TV Movie/Limited Series category, nominations go to Hulu’s Mrs. America, Amazon Prime Video’s Small Axe, Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit and Unorthodox, and HBO Max’s Watchmen.

The Television/Streaming nominees for Best Actress are Jennifer Aniston (“The Morning Show”), Cate Blanchett (Mrs. America), Regina King (Watchmen), Laura Linney (“Ozark”) and Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt$ Creek”). In the Best Actor category, Jason Bateman (“Ozark”), Ted Danson (“The Good Place”), Hugh Grant (The Undoing), Ethan Hawke (The Good Lord Bird) and Mark Ruffalo (I Know This Much is True).

George Clooney will receive the esteemed Movies for Grownups Career Achievement Award. He joins a list of previous AARP Movies for Grownups Career Achievement honorees, including Annette Bening, Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Shirley MacLaine, Helen Mirren, Robert Redford, Susan Sarandon and Sharon Stone.

The complete list of the Movies for Grownups Awards Nominees:

  • Best Picture/Best Movie for Grownups: MinariNomadlandOne Night in MiamiThe Trial of the Chicago 7The United States vs. Billie Holiday
  • Best Actress: Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Sophia Loren (The Life Ahead), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), Michelle Pfeiffer (French Exit), Robin Wright (Land)
  • Best Actor: Ralph Fiennes (The Dig), Tom Hanks (News of the World), Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Delroy Lindo (Da 5 Bloods), Gary Oldman (Mank)
  • Best Supporting Actress: Candice Bergen (Let Them All Talk), Ellen Burstyn (Pieces of a Woman), Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Jodie Foster (The Mauritanian), Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari)
  • Best Supporting Actor: Demián Bichir (Land), Bill Murray (On the Rocks), Clarke Peters (Da 5 Bloods), Paul Raci (Sound of Metal), Mark Rylance (The Trial of the Chicago 7)
  • Best Director: Lee Daniels (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), Regina King (One Night in Miami), Spike Lee (Da 5 Bloods), Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7), George C. Wolfe (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)
  • Best Ensemble: Da 5 Bloods, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, One Night in Miami, Promising Young Woman, The Trial of the Chicago 7
  • Best Intergenerational: Hillbilly Elegy, Minari, On the Rocks, The Father, The Life Ahead
  • Best Buddy Picture:  Bad Boys for Life, Bill & Ted Face the Music, Da 5 Bloods, Let Them All Talk, Standing Up, Falling Down
  • Best Screenwriter: Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee (Da 5 Bloods); Paul Greengrass, Luke Davies (News of the World), Kemp Powers (One Night in Miami), Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7)
  • Best Time Capsule: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank, One Night in Miami, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, The Trial of the Chicago 7
  • Best Grownup Love Story: Emma.Ordinary LoveSupernovaWild Mountain ThymeWorking Man
  • Best Documentary: A Secret Love, Crip Camp, Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy, Dick Johnson Is DeadSky Blossom: Diaries of the Next Greatest Generation
  • Best Foreign Language Film: Another Round (Denmark), Bacurau (Brazil), Collective (Romania), The Life Ahead (Italy), The Weasels’ Tale (Argentina)
  • Best Series: “Perry Mason,” “Succession,” “Ted Lasso,” “The Crown,” “This Is Us”
  • Best TV Movie/Limited Series: Mrs. America, Small Axe, The Queen’s Gambit, Unorthodox, Watchmen.
  • Best Actress (TV/Streaming): Jennifer Aniston (“The Morning Show”), Cate Blanchett (Mrs. America), Regina King (Watchmen), Laura Linney (“Ozark”), Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt$ Creek”)
  • Best Actor (TV/Streaming): Jason Bateman (“Ozark”), Ted Danson (“The Good Place”), Hugh Grant (The Undoing), Ethan Hawke (The Good Lord Bird), Mark Ruffalo (I Know This Much Is True).

AFI Announces Top Films, TV Shows of 2020

The American Film Institute announced the recipients of the 2020 AFI Awards, featuring 10 films and 10 TV shows, as well as a Special Award for Hamilton.

Top honorees include Netflix’s Mank, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Da Five Bloods, “The Crown,” “Bridgerton” and “The Queen’s Gambit”; Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso”; the acclaimed Frances McDormand starrer Nomadland; HBO’s “Lovecraft Country”; Amazon’s One Night in Miami …; Disney’s animated Soul; and Disney+’s “The Mandalorian.”

The AFI’s global Movie Club program will showcase the official selections beginning in February, with new and exclusive content released daily, including special guests from the honored works introducing the titles and AFI “Behind the Scene” conversations with filmmakers and actors. 

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“For 20 years, AFI Awards has been a moment to gather artists in one room with a singular goal — to create community over competition,” Bob Gazzale, AFI president and CEO, said in a statement. “This year we cannot gather but will instead celebrate each honoree by creating exclusive content to be shared with a global audience through AFI Movie Club, shining a proper light on excellence.”

The AFI Awards tributes will culminate with a virtual benediction premiering Feb. 26 on YouTube.com/AFI and AFI.com.

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The AFI Awards is the only national program that honors creative teams as a whole, recognizing those in front of and behind the camera. Selections are made through a jury process where AFI Trustees, artists, critics and scholars determine the year’s most outstanding achievements and provide artistic and cultural context for the selection of each honoree. All of the honored works advance the art of the moving image, inspire audiences and artists alike, enhance the rich cultural heritage of America’s art form and make a mark on American society. “When placed in an historical context, these stories provide a complex and rich visual record of our modern world,” according to the AFI.

 

AFI MOVIES OF THE YEAR

Da 5 Bloods

Judas and the Black Messiah

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Mank

Minari

Nomadland

One Night in Miami…

Soul

Sound of Metal

The Trial of the Chicago 7

 

AFI TELEVISION PROGRAMS OF THE YEAR

“Better Call Saul”

“Bridgerton”

“The Crown”

“The Good Lord Bird”

“Lovecraft Country”

“The Mandalorian”

“Mrs. America”

“The Queen’s Gambit”

“Ted Lasso”

“Unorthodox”

 

AFI SPECIAL AWARD

Hamilton

PBS Distribution’s Andrea Downing to Be Honored With Fourth Annual ‘Fast Forward’ Award

Media Play News Jan. 22 announced that Andrea Downing, co-president of PBS Distribution, will receive the fourth annual Media Play Fast Forward Award, which honors people, technologies, organizations, products or services that move the home entertainment industry forward.

With more than 25 years’ experience in the home entertainment business, industry leader Downing is being honored for her exceptional, broad and groundbreaking role at PBS Distribution. She has led the evolution of the organization from a start-up focused on physical goods to a global distribution company of public media content around the world. Her focus on adapting to the media landscape has led to five subscription streaming channels — PBS Masterpiece, PBS Kids, PBS Living, PBS Documentaries and PBS America (U.K.). In addition to licensing content on DVD and Blu-ray, she has also spearheaded the company’s move into transactional video-on-demand; subscription video-on-demand; theatrical releasing; and educational, non-theatrical, inflight and international program sales and co-productions.

“I am extremely honored to be recognized by Media Play News with the Media Play Fast Forward Award — particularly when I consider how many of my peers are doing incredible work in extraordinary times,” said Downing. “The home entertainment market has changed dramatically over the last 10 years, and we have all had to learn to pivot quickly and anticipate what will come next. But no one anticipated a global pandemic, and we have been tested mightily this past year.

“I also recognize that I would not have received the award without the incredible dedication and talent of the PBS Distribution team. I am so proud that they continuously pivot to face our challenges and opportunities and develop innovative ways to address and capitalize on them, all while supporting each other and maintaining our company values. It is an honor to lead this team each and every day and contribute to the public television system’s mission of giving voice to all Americans.”

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Last year, the Media Play Fast Forward Award went to Eddie Cunningham, president of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. In 2019, the award went to digital retailers Cameron Douglas of FandangoNow, Galen Smith of Redbox On Demand, Google Play Movies & TV’s Jonathan Zepp and the team at Apple iTunes. The previous year, the inaugural Media Play Fast Forward Award was shared by the Fox Innovation Lab and Movies Anywhere.

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The Media Play Fast Forward awards are an outgrowth of the Home Entertainment Visionary Awards, which were launched in 2002 by the now-defunct Home Media Magazine. Comcast’s Brian Roberts was the 2017 honoree. Warren Lieberfarb, the father of DVD, was the first Visionary Award winner, back in 2002. Other honorees have included Sony Pictures’ Ben Feingold, Samsung’s Tim Baxter, and Walmart’s Louis Greth and Chris Nagelson.

Downing will be profiled in the March issue of Media Play News.

Annual ‘Media Play News’ Awards Expands to Streaming, Gets New Name

Media Play News is revamping its annual home entertainment awards to add categories for streaming services, including original movies and series, in addition to content released for digital sellthrough and on disc formats such as Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

As a result, the program will also be presented under the updated name “Home Entertainment Media Play Awards.”

“Digital original programming offered by streaming services has become a vital part of the home entertainment industry, and we want our awards to reflect that reality,” said Media Play News publisher Thomas K. Arnold.

For the past 10 years the honors were presented by Media Play News and a predecessor publication under the Home Media Awards banner, which had consolidated a number of DVD and Blu-ray awards presented before then.

Studios, content distributors and streaming services may submit nominations for the awards here through Feb. 26.

Fans can vote on the nominations in March and the winners will be announced in April.

Details about categories and submission guidelines are now available at MediaPlayNews.com/awards/home-entertainment-submission-form.

In last year’s awards, which were limited to the transactional segment of the home entertainment business, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood earned the top prize, taking Title of the Year and Best Theatrical Home Release.

Blu-ray Disc of the Year went to Lionsgate’s Apocalypse Now: Final Cut, which also won Best Catalog Home Release and Best Box Art. HBO’s Game of Thrones: The Complete Series won TV on Disc of the Year and Best Packaging.

PBS’s Sara DeWitt Presented With DEG’s Hedy Lamarr Award

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group Nov. 9 presented its fourth annual Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology to Sara DeWitt, VP of PBS Kids Digital.

The DEG created the Innovation Award to recognize female executives in the fields of entertainment and technology who have made a significant contribution to the industry.

DeWitt was surprised by presenters in masks and gloves who gave her the award in her home during the virtual event.

“A fun thing about this being virtual is that my whole family is here with me,” DeWitt said, surrounded by her kids and husband.

“Sara oversees PBS kids streaming video services, the PBS kids games app and PBSkids.org, which collectively serve over 13.5 million visitors each month,” said PBS CEO Paula Kerger, who introduced DeWitt. “Under her leadership PBS Kids has produced and published cutting-edge experiences for children from AR games and podcasts to game video hybrids and texting programs. Her drive to understand how digital media can impact children’s learning has yielded profound findings from a variety of research studies, and she’s established the gold standard for children’s digital privacy and security.”

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DeWitt paid tribute to Lamarr, an Austrian-American actress who was a Hollywood legend and lifelong inventor whose innovative work included pioneering “frequency hopping,” which became the foundation for spread spectrum technology. Conceived by Lamarr and composer George Antheil for radio guidance systems and patented in 1942, this highly secure technology resists interference and dropout, and is utilized today for a variety of cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth applications. PBS chronicled her life in the “American Masters” documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story.

“I loved this story of this glamorous movie star moonlighting as a technological powerhouse, but I think what struck me the most as I watched that ‘American Masters’ documentary Bombshell was how long it took for her contributions to come to light, that silence of 50 years from the time that she received her patent for the idea of frequency hopping to the time of actual public recognition for it,” DeWitt said. “And when I think about that piece of the story I get really frustrated. I hope many of you are as well. It just reemphasizes for me the importance of amplifying the successes of women here and now, women in technical fields, women in my own organization, women in our community. It reaffirms to me too how critical it is to provide opportunities for more voices, for those underrepresented in our industry to be heard and celebrated so that no one has to wait 50 years for their groundbreaking work to come to light.”

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DeWitt, who was a teacher before joining PBS, stressed the power of programming in helping kids envision their future.

“The media that we create has so much power to introduce kids to places and to people that they’ve never know about before,” she said. “Good storytelling has the power to help children imagine exciting possibilities for themselves and good technology can help even more children gain access to the tools and the resources that they need to realize these possibilities. I hope that our innovation at PBS Kids can inspire all children and all of those little girls in our audience to think big and to think about their own future to create new inventions and new art and new discoveries that won’t take 50 years to be recognized.”

The DEG also virtually presented the Hedy Lamarr Achievement Award for Emerging Leaders in Entertainment Technology, which recognizes female college students whose studies in the fields of entertainment and technology have shown exceptional promise. The Emerging Leader award was presented to Molly Mielke, who is earning her bachelor’s degree in film, TV and digital media at UCLA. Mielke will receive a financial award to continue her education. Her work can be found on her website, mollymielke.com.

Lamarr’s son Anthony Loder also joined the virtual event.

“It’s wonderful that you’re sharing her legacy forward in history while making history of your own,” he said.

Nominations for the 2021 awards are open Nov. 10 on the DEG website.

OTT.X to Honor Industry Heroes

OTT.X (formerly the Entertainment Merchants Association) is looking to honor industry “heroes.”

The group is looking for a team member who has gone out of his or her way to help neighbors, to help the community, to support health care workers, or to just do something good during the pandemic — or for a team member who has gone out of his or her way to help the company continue to serve its customers during the crisis.

“Just as the hard work of grocery and pharmacy teams are keeping our pantries and medicine cabinets full, all of the teams in our industry, at digital platforms, channels and retailers; at content companies; and at all of the service and technology companies that facilitate the flow of content ultimately to the consumer are playing an important role in providing the needed entertainment to keep everyone sane during these stay-at-home days,” according to OTT.X. “We need to recognize our own heroes.”

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Entries should include a brief paragraph nominating a hero or heroes and a photo if possible. In mid-June, OTT.X will hold an online live ceremony recognizing all the heroes and presenting a few special awards. Nominations must be sent no later than May 30 to mfisher@ottx.org and include “our ottx hero” in the subject line.

In addition, OTT.X is soliciting pictures of home offices and awarding prizes. Photos should be sent to mfisher@ottx.org and include “my new home office” in the subject line.

USC Annenberg Dean Willow Bay to Receive DEG Hedy Lamarr Award

Willow Bay, dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, will receive the third annual “Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology” from DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group this fall.

The DEG created the Innovation Award to recognize female executives in the fields of entertainment and technology who have made a significant contribution to the industry.

The DEG also will present the “Hedy Lamarr Achievement Award for Emerging Leaders in Entertainment Technology,” which recognizes female college students whose studies in the fields of entertainment and technology have shown exceptional promise. Maya Tribbitt, who is earning her bachelor’s degree in journalism and international relations at USC Annenberg and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, will receive the Emerging Leader honor along with a financial award to continue her education.

The awards will be presented in Los Angeles to coincide with the 105th anniversary of Lamarr’s birth Nov. 9, 1914.

“We are thrilled to present DEG’s 2019 Hedy Lamarr Awards to Dean Willow Bay, for her traditional and digital platforms, and USC student Maya Tribbitt,” said DEG president and CEO Amy Jo Smith in a statement. “These communicators truly embody Hedy Lamarr’s dedication to innovation in media and technology.”

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Bay, a broadcast journalist, is the first female dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and holder of the Walter H. Annenberg Chair in Communication. Since joining the USC Annenberg faculty in 2014 as director of the School of Journalism, she has launched the school’s state-of-the-art Media Center in Wallis Annenberg Hall, expanded the school’s partnerships with key media and technology partners, and accelerated curricular innovations, including an expansion of the school’s experiential education and career development programs, according to the DEG. Bay’s work to ensure that current and future communicators are fluent writers across many digital platforms was recognized with the Award of Honor from the PEN Center USA. She is married to Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger.

“I am honored to receive this award inspired by Hedy Lemarr’s relentless commitment not only to pushing the boundaries of invention, but also to forging new roles for women in the entertainment and technology industries,” Bay said in a statement. “At USC Annenberg, we prepare our students to lead with this same level of intelligence, curiosity and courage as they shape the future of media, technology and culture.”

Austrian-American actress Lamarr was a Hollywood legend who is best known for her roles in film classics including Samson and Delilah, The Strange Woman and Tortilla Flat. She was also a lifelong inventor whose innovative work included pioneering “frequency hopping,” which became the foundation for spread spectrum technology. Conceived by Lamarr and composer George Antheil for radio guidance systems and patented in 1942, this highly secure technology resists interference and dropout, and is utilized today for a variety of cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth applications.

To determine the award winners, DEG enlisted its Canon Club Advisory Board, which comprises a cross-section of leaders representing the entertainment, technology, IT and consumer electronics industries. Among other factors, the judging panel based its decisions on the candidates’ embodiment of the principles of innovation, engagement and excellence.

Golden Trailer Awards Honor Entertainment Marketers

The entertainment industry celebrated motion picture marketing at the 20th Annual Golden Trailer Awards May 30 at The Theatre at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles.

More than 1,000 studio and network marketing executives, movie fans, celebrities and trailer editors were on hand as AV Squad and Lionsgate won the night’s top honor of Best of Show for their work on the John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum trailer titled “Conversation.” Netflix won the most awards of the night, taking home 16 Golden Trailer statues. Warner Bros (with HBO), and Disney were also big winners of the night taking home 14 and 11 Golden Trailer Awards respectively.

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Among the home entertainment honorees were:

Best Home Ent. Action
Mission Impossible: Fallout, Blu-ray Trailer
Paramount
Aspect

Best Home Ent. Comedy
Crazy Rich Asians, “Target Showcase Wall”
Warner Bros. Pictures
Trailer Park

Best Home Ent. Drama
Bohemian Rhapsody “Royalty AVOD”
20th Century Fox
Mob Scene

Best Home Ent. Family / Animation
Mary Poppins Returns, Bonus Trailer “Be A Child”
Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International
Aspect

Best Home Ent. Fantasy Adventure
Avengers: Infinity War “Announce Trailer”
Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International
Tiny Hero

Best Home Ent. Horror / Thriller
In Darkness “Listen 30”
Universal
Silk Factory

To view the complete list of 2019 winners and a selection of this year’s trailers, visit http://www.goldentrailer.com.

Luncheon Fetes Fast Forward Award Honorees

FandangoNow VP of home entertainment Cameron Douglas, Redbox CEO Galen Smith, Google Play head of media and entertainment Jonathan Zepp, and the team at Apple iTunes were honored with Fast Forward Awards at a luncheon April 4 in Los Angeles at the Universal Hilton.

The awards, presented by Media Play News, recognize people, technologies, organizations, products or services that move the home entertainment industry forward.

The luncheon was produced by Media Play News and hosted by the Entertainment Merchants Association, which used the occasion to announce a new Leadership Development Foundation to foster executive talent.

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“All of today’s honorees are truly worthy of recognition for their leadership in our industry,” said EMA president and CEO Mark Fisher.

Media Play News publisher Thomas K. Arnold noted that all of the honorees are involved in the digital transactional business. Not all consumers want to get their entertainment buffet-style with the content curated for them as offered by subscription streaming services; many consumers would like to choose the content they would like to see a la carte, he said.

Warner Bros. Entertainment SVP of sales Michael Rweyemamu presented the award to Smith of Redbox, which has nearly doubled the selection of films and TV shows available on its year-old digital movie store, Redbox On Demand, and last December announced a new deal in which its app is featured on all Vizio Smartcast TV. Rweyemamu noted the irony of the occasion, considering the rocky relationship between the studio and the kiosk company several years ago when the two fought over release windows for low-priced rentals.

“Ten years ago, had you told me I’d be presenting an award to Redbox, I’d have said, ‘Hell, no!’” Rweyemamu joked.

He praised Smith for his leadership.

“Galen, you’ve been a great partner,” he said. “We started off on a rocky road like some relationships, but we’re in a really good place right now. And a lot of that has to do with the fact that you were really tenacious. You were really disciplined, really open to conversations to allow us to be where we are today.”

Smith also noted the evolution of the relationship between the two companies.

“In a similar vein, receiving an award from Warner Bros. I didn’t think was ever going to happen,” Smith said.

The company’s Redbox on Demand digital service “is a real natural evolution for our business,” Smith said.

“We’ve got 50 million customers that rent from us every year; it’s an opportunity for us to help them move to digital,” he said. “This is the last bastion of customers who haven’t moved yet. We have an opportunity to bring them over.”

He also praised the transactional model.

“We did a stint in a more of an SVOD-type business, and it didn’t really work,” he said, in reference to a failed joint venture with Verizon. “Our consumers are transactional, and so we want to do everything we can to support the business.”

In presenting the award to FandangoNow’s Douglas, industry veteran and former DreamWorks home entertainment chief Kelly Sooter praised him for his ability to anticipate trends and forge strong partnerships and lasting relationships — and for always being in touch with the consumer.

“He knows everything about … how consumers behave,” she said.

FandangoNow has been revving up its promotional muscle and is aggressively tying in digital purchases and rentals with its movie-ticket-selling sister company.

Douglas noted he got involved in the digital business at DreamWorks when he was asked to help with a startup (M-GO, which eventually was acquired by movie service Fandango and became FandangoNow).

“As we finally refined what we were doing and launched in 2013 as a transactional service, I truly felt like I was now building the future of digital home entertainment,” Douglas said.

He noted FandangoNow’s early and strong support for 4K and initiatives such as binge bundles and the “Fresh Picks” program, which curates titles deemed “Fresh” by sister service Rotten Tomatoes.

Praising Google Play’s Zepp, who was unable to attend, Paramount Pictures president of worldwide home media distribution Bob Buchi said, “He truly has the talent and the vision to market very impressively to consumers and really change the way that they behave.”

Buchi noted that Google Play, which is in its seventh year, “really put a movie store in the hand of millions of consumers with the Android mobile platform [and] really elevated and streamlined the experience of purchasing or renting a digital product, and opened up a whole new world in literally over 100 countries.”

“They continued to enhance the product day in and day out,” he said. “It’s now on every major television manufacturer and streaming sticks, so it’s really never been easier to rent or to purchase a movie.

“They’re also super champions of 4K which is great for adoption and great for all of our futures.”

Google Play Movies & TV is currently on a big 4K push, automatically upgrading customers’ past movie purchases to the new format, so they can stream them in 4K, even if the movies were originally purchased in standard or high definition.

Google Play’s Bill Kotzman accepted the award on Zepp’s behalf and read a statement from the honoree: “Transactional home entertainment is and will remain a key part of the media and entertainment business.… Google continues to invest heavily in transactional, and we’re excited to continue to grow the category in partnership with all of you.”

The EMA’s Steven Apple accepted the award for the iTunes team. Apple’s iTunes service began the year with a game-changing deal with No. 1 TV manufacturer Samsung. New Samsung SmartCast TVs will allow consumers to access their iTunes movie and TV show libraries through a new app.

Photos of the event are here.

DEG Presents Hedy Lamarr Awards to VR Pioneer, Carnegie Mellon Student

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group presented its second annual Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology to Emblematic Group CEO Nonny de la Peña, a leader in virtual reality, in Santa Monica, Calif., Nov. 1. The award recognizes female executives in the fields of entertainment and technology who have made a significant contribution to the industry.

The DEG also presented the Hedy Lamarr Achievement Award for Emerging Leader in Entertainment Technology to Carnegie Mellon University student Cassidy Pearsall, who will receive a financial award to continue her education.

“Thank you for thinking about women and technology,” de la Peña said in accepting the award. “The numbers are appalling. In 2017, 98% of venture funds went to men. In 2016, in 2015, the same — it’s brutal. To celebrate women’s contribution to technology helps change their story to venture capitalists. They always say they invest in founders of the company. Putting women out there like this and talking about Hedy Lamarr and putting people like me and Cassidy out there, you start to change that story, you start to change what they expect a founder to look like, so it’s really important what you’re doing here. This work is important, and I really appreciate that I’ve been able to be a representative of that ongoing attempt to show the world how much we can contribute.”

DEG president and CEO Amy Jo Smith said the awards were created “to celebrate the memory of Hedy Lamarr,” who was both a Hollywood actress and an inventor.

“Louis B. Mayer famously was one of the first people to call her the most beautiful woman in the world and of course many people followed thereafter, but Hedy wasn’t just a beautiful, talented film star,” Smith noted. “She came up with a way of actually making sure torpedoes would hit their destinations during World War II. This highly secure technology, radio frequency hopping, is the foundation on which technologies such as wi-fi, bluetooth and cellular technologies, technologies that we use every single day, are based.”

After reminiscing about finding his mother’s patent as they went through boxes of magazine covers and photographs in the attic, Lamarr’s son Anthony Loder congratulated the 2018 winners.

“Cassidy, my mother would be very proud of you,” he said to Pearsall. “She’d be a fan, and she’d be impressed.”

“To be compared to someone as talented and as driven as Hedy is really an incredible honor,” Pearsall said in accepting her award.

De la Peña was named “The Godmother of Virtual Reality” by The Guardian and Engadget, while Fast Company recognized her as one of the people who made the world more creative for her groundbreaking work in immersive journalism. A former correspondent for Newsweek magazine, de la Peña founded Emblematic Group in 2007. The company became an innovator in walk around virtual reality with the first-ever VR documentary, Hunger in Los Angeles, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012. Emblematic has also produced Project Syria, which was commissioned by the World Economic Forum, Use of ForceOne Dark NightOut of ExileAfter Solitary and Greenland Melting.

Pearsall is a student in Carnegie Mellon’s Theatrical Video and Media Design program, and a recipient of the university’s prestigious Presidential Scholarship. She is training as a theatrical designer and technician in scenic design and construction and lighting design and programming.

Deluxe Entertainment Services Group hosted the reception and Sony, including Sony Electronics, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Corp. of America, was a presenting sponsor.

See photos from the event here.