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A Night Of High Spirits For Art Directors

M. Galas

Enthusiasm was running high after entertainment luminaries including Warren Beatty, Richard Chamberlains, Gene Wilder and James Cameron walked the red carpet at the Art Directors Guild 14th Annual Excellence in Production Design Awards.  After attendees were treated to an amusing short film by filmmaker Cindy Peters entitled “The Case of the Bad Production Designer,” Paula Poundstone, the evening’s host, kept spirits lifted throughout the ceremony.


“Creating movies in 3D was big this year, but what I want to know is why,” said Poundstone.  “I live my life in 3D, I go to movies for the 2D.  If I want to see something hurdling towards, I’ll just stay at home with my son.”


The first award of the evening was given to the team of “Hell’s Kitchen.” 


 “Thank you for recognizing a show that doesn’t fit into any category,” said production designer John Janavs.  “Our set has to be fully functional 24 hours a day, complete with working plumbing and gas range tops.  It’s a real challenge to keep it all together.”


“Mad Men” actor Rich Sommer (Harry Crane) presented an award to the show’s art director, Christopher Brown.  Brown declared the show a “breeding ground for creativity,” and recognized a PA who was recently accepted into the guild.


Production Designer James Bissel introduced the evening’s Creative Leadership Award recipient, Michael Baugh, as a man whose diverse achievements ranged from “herding cats to the ability to talk with all sides of the camera.”  Upon receiving the award, Bissel took a moment to reflect upon 30 years of change in the Art Directors Guild.


“When I started it was an entirely different organization,” said Bissel.  “There were 150 members and an office staff of four and a half employees.”  Bissel congratulated the members for building a thriving guild that has gone from a tiny staff to needing its own office building, and focusing on the needs of guild members everywhere.


In presenting Terence Marsh with the Lifetime Achievement Award, Gene Wilder shared an important lesson he received when preparing to direct his first movie: “Get to know your production designer.”  Expecting a “no” from the man whose credits included “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Dr. Zhivago,” Wilder asked Marsh to be his production designer on “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother” anyways.  Marsh said yes, and a 40 year friendship developed. 


The Cinematic Imagery Award was presented to Warren Beatty, a director with a bounty of movies that have been recognized for art direction.  As Beatty took the stage, he declared his love of the art directors and their creativity.  He rallied the crowd with his amusing description of movie making:


“Making a movie is kind of like vomiting,” said Beatty.  “You don’t know how long it’s going to take, and you don’t know exactly what the consequences will be, but you feel a whole lot better when you are done.”

 To view red carpet video interviews, please visit:

The Winners of the Art Directors Guild Awards include:


Excellence in Production Design for an Episode for a Multi-Camera Television Series:

Hell’s Kitchen – John Janavs, Robert Frye, Kevin Lewis, Mercedes younger, Libby Wall, Stephen Paul Ferrell, Heidi Miller


Excellence in production Design for an Episode of a One Hour Single Camera Television Series:  Mad Men – Dan Bishop, Christopher Brown, Shanna Starzyk, Robin Richesson, Camille Bratkowski, Geoffrey Mandel, Amy Wells


Excellence in Production Design for an Episode of a Half Hour Single Camera Television Series: Weeds – Joseph P. Lucky, William Durrell, Viva Wang, Julie Bolder


Excellence in Production Design for an Awards, Music or Game Show: 51st Annual Grammy Awards – Steve Bass, Brian Stonestreet, Alana Billingsley, Kristen Merlino


Excellence in Production Design for a Commercial or Music Video: Absolut Anthem Commercial “In An Absolut World” – James Chinlund, Harrison Richardswise


Excellence in Production Design for a Television Movie or Miniseries: Grey Gardens – Kalina Ivanov, Brandt Gordon, Colin Woods, Tucker Doherty, Jason Clarke, Jeff Helgason, Norma Jean Sanders


Excellence in Production Design for a Contemporary Feature Film: The Hurt Locker – Karl Juliusson, David Bryan, Sana’a Jaber, Nadeer Ibrahim, Samir Zaidan, Amin Al-Masri


Excellence in Production Design for a Fantasy Feature Film: Avatar – Rick Carter, Robert Stronmberg, Kim Sinclair, Kevin Ishioka, Stefan Dechant, Todd Cherniawsky, Ben Procter, Nick Bassett, Rob Bavin, Simon Bright, Jill Cormack, Seth Engstrom, Sean Haworth, Andrew Jones, Andy McLaren, Andrew Menzies,, Norm Newberry, Jacqui Allen, Vanessa Cole, Michael Stassi, Jeffry Wisniewski, Kim Sinclair, Yuri Bartoli, Dylan Cole, Dorian Bustamante, Ryan Church, James Clyne, Tyruben Ellingson, Barry Howell, Victor Martinez, Steven Messing, Paul Ozzimo, Craig Shoji, Daphne Yap, C. Scott Baker, Luke Caska, Paul Andrew Chan, David Chow, Jonathan Dyer, Scott Herbertson, Joseph Hiura, Robert Johnson, Tex Kadonaga, Tammi Lee, Darryl Longstaffe, John Lott, Karl Martin, Richard Mays, Sam Page, Andrew Reeder, Michael Smale


Excellence in Production Design for a Period Feature Film: Sherlock Holmes – Sarah Greenwood, Niall Moroney, Nick Gottschalk, James Foster, Matt Gray, Netty Chapman, Katie Spencer