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Spielberg Mentions Greek-American Filmmaker John Cassavetes at Golden Globes

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) held the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 10 with Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans winning Best Motion Picture – Drama. In his acceptance speech, Spielberg mentioned being a production assistant (PA) for the late Greek-American filmmaker John Cassavetes.

As director Quentin Tarantino, presented the award to the production team and handed the statuette to director Spielberg, he could just barely be heard mentioning that the iconic Cassavetes would be proud of him.

Tarantino was referring to the fact that early in his career Spielberg worked as a PA on the set of a Cassavetes film, which, according to IMDB, was ‘Faces’ (1968). Written and directed by Cassavetes and shot in a cinema vérité style, the film won two awards at the 29th Venice International Film Festival and received three nominations at the 41st Academy Awards, including best screenplay. ‘Faces’ was added to the National Film Registry in 2011 by the Library of Congress.

“One thing [Tarantino] said to me when he gave me this award, he said that John Cassavetes would be so proud,” Spielberg said. “He said that because I was John Cassavetes’ PA on one of his movies. I got him coffee. I got them anything they wanted. I ran around that set, which was like a 16-millimeter camera and a lot of noise and whatever they wanted, I ran off to the delis and got them stuff. And that’s why I treat my PAs so kindly because I know what it feels like.”

Earlier in the evening, Spielberg also won Best Director and was visibly moved because the film is about his family. “I’ve been hiding from this story since I was 17 years old,” he said, his voice cracking. He then mentioned each of his family members by name, ending with his late mother, Leah Adler, who inspired the Michelle Williams character at the heart of the film, saying “she is up there kvelling about this right now.”

It was the fifth time that one of Spielberg’s films won a best picture Globe and the third best director win for Spielberg in 14 nominations.

It should be noted that the beleaguered award show sought to rekindle its pre-pandemic and pre-scandal glamour after last year’s broadcast on NBC was canceled due to the HAFP’s ethical and financial lapses that have since led to reforms for the organization.

Among the other winners, the dark friendship tale The Banshees of Inisherin captured Best Film – Comedy or Musical, Best Screenplay for writer/director Martin McDonagh, and Best Actor in a Comedy for Colin Farrrell. Fourteen years earlier, Farrell won a Globe for McDonagh’s ‘In Bruges’, which likewise paired him with co-star Brendan Gleeson. Abbott Elementary, White Lotus, and House of the Dragon led the TV awards.

Accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award, Eddie Murphy said he knew the blueprint for longevity in show business: “Pay your taxes, mind your business, and keep Will Smith’s wife’s name out of your (expletive) mouth!”

Writer, director, and producer, Golden Globe winner and six-time nominee Ryan Murphy, no relation to Eddie, received the Carol Burnett Award, an honorary Golden Globe Award bestowed by the HFPA for outstanding contributions to television on or off the screen.

Actor and activist Sean Penn introduced a recorded message from Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanking his allies in the free world and noting that his country will win the war. “Penn introduced the Ukrainian comedian-turned-politician with nods to ongoing protests in Iran, during which several citizens have been executed, and the women’s rights movement in Afghanistan,” CNN reported, adding that “the Oscar winner previously met with Zelenskyy in Kyiv and gifted him one of his Academy Awards, asking the president to return it when the war ends.”

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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