Murray Weissman Takes Special Honor At 53rd Annual ICG Publicist Awards

Johnny Mathis presents the Special Awards of Merit to Alan and Marilyn Bergman.

By: Marjorie Galas

Two days before the Academy Awards, the publicist involved with last season’s film and television productions united to spend an afternoon connecting with and congratulating each other for the work they’ve done throughout the past year.  Following a yearly growth trend, the February 26, 2016 event proved to be the largest yet.  There was no elbow room to be had as guest mingled prior to the commencement of the 53rd Annual Publicists Awards held at the Beverly Hilton.

After a brief introduction by Awards Committee Chairman Henri Bollinger, audible gasps were heard as the afternoon’s first presenter, Johnny Mathis, entered the stage.  The iconic singer had recently released a collection of songs written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, the recipients of The Special Awards of Merit.  The husband and wife team have a fifty plus year career as composers and lyricists for films including “The Thomas Crown Affair”, “The Way We Were”, “Yentl”, “Sabrina” and countless others. Although Marilyn was unable to attend due to a flu, Alan accepted the award, thanking “all the amazing people who do so well.”

Sally Field present the Lifetime Achievement Awards to Lily Tomlin.   Crediting Tomlin as a mentor who helped introduce her to the importance of social activism, Field also reflected on Tomlin’s tenacity to break boundaries.

“As a teenager going to auditions she was told ‘Someday there will be parts for girls like you’ to which she said ‘I can’t wait that long’ and start making her own parts” said Field.  “Her comedy is all about embracing the species, rather than debasing it.”

After presenting a clip reel Tomlin comically narrated in a self-debasing nature, she accepted the award with gratitude and humor.

“Wow, it is a crystal award – it’s not going to rub off like the Oscars,” said Tomlin. “I better not put it by the curtains though – when the light shines through it the curtains might catch on fire.”

Ryan Murphy likened the Television Showman of the Year Award recipient John Landgraf, President of FX, to a “gentleman, a scholar, a father and a friend.”     Although “American Horror Story” is a huge success on FX, Landgraf turned down Murphy’s first pitch.   In fact, Murphy continued to revise and reconstruct his idea for two years before Landgraf gave Murphy the green light to move forward with his idea.

“That ‘Yes’ was so satisfying,” recalled Murphy.  “Looking back, John was absolutely right.”

Langraf thanked the Guild noting how honored he was to be included amongst the list of talent that have received the Television Showman of the Year Award before him.  He then stated his team was really who should receive the honor, not himself.

“Turning out a good story is only half the battle,” said Langraf. “Telling people why they need to watch it is the other half.”

Perhaps the greatest moment of the afternoon came when Michael Keaton announced the winner of the Les Mason Award, Murray Weissman.  A publicist who was greatly admired by the entertainment industry at large, Weissman passed away two months prior.  His wife, daughter and son-in-law (and partner of his PR firm) Rick Markovitz accepted the award on his behalf.

“Murray would be so proud, thank you very much,” said Markovitz.

Here is a complete list of the winners of the 53rd Annual ICG Publicist Awards:

Maxwell Weinberg Award for Best Publicity Campaign for a Motion Picture:
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

Maxwell Weinberg Award for Best Publicity Campaign for a Television Program:
EMPIRE

Excellence in Unit Still Photography for Motion Pictures Award:
BARRY WETCHER

Excellence in Unit Still Photography for Television Award:
CHUCK HODES

Les Mason Award, the highest honor publicists can bestow on one of their own:
MURRAY WEISSMAN (posthumously)

Bob Yeager Award for community service:
ELAINE LAZELLE
, Walt Disney Studio Senior Publicist

Press Award:
BRYAN ALEXANDER
, USA Today

International Media Award:
YUKO YOSHIKAWA,
Reuters Japan