It would be an understatement to say that “The Kennedys” began as a very rough road for Jon Cassar and everyone else involved in the production of the miniseries about the presidency of JFK, starring Greg Kinnear as President Kennedy and Katie Holmes as Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy.
Dropped like a hot potato by the History Channel, the eight-hour series was quickly picked up by Stanley Hubbard’s Reelz Channel, and since it aired in April 2011, it has shaken off the initial controversy attached to it and has become a huge awards magnet.
Perhaps the final vindication came when Cassar, well-known for his work on “24,” won the Directors Guild Award Saturday night in Hollywood in the prestigious movie for television/miniseries category. Cassar had previously won the DGA in 2006 for directing “24.”
Patty Jenkins took the drama trophy for directing the pilot of AMC’s "The Killing" and Robert B. Weide scored the comedy prize for the legendary "Palestinian Chicken" episode of HBO’s "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Other television winners included Glenn Weiss for musical/variety, “65th Annual Tony Awards”; Neil P. Degroot, reality program, for “Biggest Loser”; and Amy Schatz, children’s programming, for “A Child’s Garden of Poetry.”
William Ludel took the DGA for an endangered species, daytime serial, for “General Hospital” and Noam Murro won in the commercial category for, among others, spots for Heineken, DirecTV and Volkswagen.
One of television’s most famous faces hosted the non-televised ceremony, with Kelsey Grammer taking over the duties long performed by legendary comedian Carl Reiner.
The show has a bit of a unique format among kudofests. Each of the feature film directors up for the top prize is lauded by a colleague or co-workers involved the project at hand, and bestowed with a golden medallion, giving currency to the throwaway line that "it’s an honor just to be nominated."
It’s a crowd-pleasing tactic as well, and a chance to lobby the picture further down the awards path to the Oscars.
Ben Kingsley, who plays director Georges Melies in "Hugo," gave a moving introduction to the film’s director, Martin Scorsese, who then received a standing ovation, presumably just for being Martin Scorsese.
Another George, Clooney, was the one to present "The Descendants" director Alexander Payne with his DGA medallion. Ever the gentleman, Clooney, who has been ubiquitous on the awards campaign trail with recognition for his lead role in that film, and for producing, directing, co-writing and acting in "The Ides of March," was careful not to overshadow Payne when it came to photo ops.
Kathy Bates, who plays Gertrude Stein in Woody Allen’s "Midnight in Paris," was tapped to do the honors for Allen, who is notorious for rarely showing up at Left Coast awards presentations. In a rare turn of events, he spoke to the crowd of industry peers in a previously taped bit explaining why — saying that his funny facade, the nebbishy, neurotic Jewish guy from New York, disappears once he has to mingle with people, because he really has nothing to say.
DGA President Taylor Hackford lauded the also absent David Fincher for “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”
It was “The Artist’s” freshly and French-ly talkative, charming co-starring duo, Berenice Bejo and Jean Dujardin, who regaled the crowd with memories of making the silent film, directed by Michel Hazanavicius. They said that after multiple takes of the tap dance routine, he told them simply that it was “pretty good,” but to “smile more.”
After his win of the trophy, the trio had nothing but smiles on their faces, and after Dujardin’s surprise lead actor SAG win, presumably they will keep them through the Academy Awards.