By Audrey Rock
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 12/7/17 – The 35th annual awards dinner of the Caucus for Producers, Writers, and Directors was held on Sunday at Skirball Cultural Center. The awards spotlight the hard work performed behind the scenes in the Entertainment Industry. For such a venerable and long-standing institution, The Caucus flies under the radar much of the time. Sunday was their night to shine. “America’s Funniest Home Videos” host and honoree Alfonso Ribeiro had no trouble helping them out in this capacity, and bringing them into the spotlight.
“It’s special,” Ribeiro told THT on the carpet before the program. “The idea of being able to get an award from producers saying that they believe that I am the entertainer of the year is like, whoa!” Ribeiro expounded on what it meant to be recognized after so many years as a veteran in the business, and what his mission as an entertainer is.
“I almost feel like this is almost more a lifetime achievement than necessarily this year,” he said. “The fact that I’ve been able to work for 38 years in this business, and to continue and do what I love to do, and to try to bring people together, and to try to make people laugh, and to try to make people enjoy, and feel—the fact that I’ve been able to do that for this many years, is truly special.”
Ribeiro said the Caucus is important to the industry because it guides talented people who may not have a clear path, to a career within television or film. “What they’re ultimately doing is help support the people that don’t have a streamline to the top,” he said. “Having people who know what they’re doing and know how to do it help them, lead them, put them in the position to be able to be the best that they can be—we need a lot more of that. The Caucus does that, there are so many inspiring writers, directors, producers, it’s wonderful.”
Stephanie Austin of the Board of Directors of Women in Film was an honoree as well, receiving the distinguished Chair’s Award. The producer of Beachwood Productions, who has previously worked on hits including “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and “True Lies” had some things to say about the current sociopolitical climate in Hollywood. “I’m reeling,” Austin told THT. “You just never know when you’re going to be hit with something really disconcerting, or discouraging, or appalling. But I think, all the more important that Women in Film Continues to advocate and fight for gender equality.” Austin added that Women in Film has recently launched a sexual harassment hotline. It’s a landmark action to take in an industry exploding with emotional crises arising from incidences of sexual assault in Hollywood. “That was a big achievement, and something we’ve been working on for a long time,” she said.
Honoree Dan Cohen, President of Worldwide Licensing for Paramount, said he was deeply honored to be recognized by the Caucus. “I am actually blown away to receive this award, considering folks who have won in the past,” said Cohen. “It’s also really special to me to be given this at a time when I have moved from Disney where I was for 20 years to Paramount, where I started in April. Because Paramount is going through a bit of a turnaround, a revitalization; and I love being a part of that story. And I’m so excited to see where we’re going, and to show people the results of the hard work when we get there–so for me to be recognized, having made the move to Paramount, and for what we’re undergoing, is really really special.”
Show co-host James Pickens of Grey’s Anatomy paused on the carpet as well to praise all the behind-the scenes work represented by the Caucus and speak to his connection to them. “A lot of producers directors, writers,” said Pickens. “They’ve produced hundreds and hundreds of hours of television. One of which is my business partner of 30 years, and one of which is Stephanie Austin, who, I met way back in the late 70’s, and she became a very successful producer.”
“It’s a recognition to those people who have really contributed for many, many years in the industry,” Pickens told THT. “They should be recognized and appreciated for what they’ve done.”
Pickens hosted the lavish ceremony and dinner alongside Aimee Garcia. The two made an affable pair as they recognized Hollywood’s creative side. Tables embellished with white rose centerpieces greeted guests eager to laud the honorees and see short film clips.
The 35th annual Caucus awards could be summed up by what Ribeiro, Entertainer of the year, told the audience: “This is one of the awards that I’ll look back on and truly love.”
The 2017 Caucus award winners were Director Chris Long for “The Americans”; Producer Kenya Barris for “Girls Trip”; Writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewki for “American Crime Story”; and honorees were Dan Cohen, Executive of the Year; James G. Hirsch, Caucus Lifetime Achievement; Stephanie Austin, Chair’s Award; Michele Nasraway, Caucus Distinguished Service Award; and Alfonso Ribeiro, Entertainer of the Year. The Golden Circle Awards went to First Place Winner Emilie Silvestri for “April in Winter”; and Second Place Winner Amanda Rennee Knox for “Night Call”. The Television/New Media Award was given to Chapman University for “Veil.”