The American Film Institute (AFI) is a non- profit organization that was created in 1967 to preserve America’s Film Heritage and train future filmmakers which was made possible when then President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the legislation creating the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in 1965 whose Board of Trustees in turn established the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1973.
The AFI Life Achievement Award is recognized and considered to be the highest honor given to a career in film. Stars like Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks, and Meryl Streep as well as Directors Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese just to name a few were all recipients of the prestigious award.
This year’s honoree Al Pacino will be very much at home in their company, all giants of the silver screen and talented actors/actresses in their own right.
One touching moment in the show was when Hollywood’s Nanogenarian Icon and Mr. Spartacus himself, Kirk Douglas, who survived a stroke in 1996 which left him partially impaired valiantly walked to the center of the stage to honor Mr. Pacino.
In his husky, halting and slurry speech he proceeded to say that it is magic when an “actor can convince us that he is blind with his eyes open” and “he is blind but can dance the Tango like Al Pacino” did in Scent of a Woman.
“I know where he gets his magic” he said and stopped abruptly with his speech and spitted a powerful, “hoo-ah!” to the delight of the crowd. ("Hoo-ah" is the often used expression by Mr. Pacino's character Frank Slade)
He then cajoled them to say the magic word together as he counted from 1-2-3 and the Kodak Theater reverberated with a loud chorus of “Hoo-ah!” followed by thunderous laughter and applause.
It was magic indeed seeing Kirk Douglas doing "Hoo-ah!" on stage and still a trooper in his advanced age and state.
Kevin Spacey stated that Al Pacino who has two Tonys under his belt “never used theater as a stepping stone for movies and left” for despite his success in film he remained true to his roots by doing stage from in between and also films that are based on plays like the acclaimed Glengarry Glenn Ross for which he earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor the same year that he got his Best Actor trophy from the Academy making him as the first and only (?) male actor to be nominated for two different films in the same year.
Samuel L. Jackson narrated his experience with Pacino as well as his bit role in the movie Sea of Love during his early years in the business which he goes on to say that in the credits he was named only as “Black Guy” after being promoted to a “talking” part from a “clip board guy #2” role.
Then came Mexican- American Comedian George Lopez’ turn who made a raucous but funny impersonation of Cuban Tony Montana complete with the accent as well as poking fun at various Hollywood personalities and parodies of some famous films' immortal lines.
Mr. Lopez proclaimed that “Tony Montana was the Lindsay Lohan of the 80s” and that in his films there are a lot of “eating, non-stop drug use, sucking and drinking. It shows you how life is unfair when Al Pacino got an AFI while Paris Hilton is in jail!”
He also revealed that contrary to popular belief it was not Tony Montana who said the famous line “when you got the money, you got the power; when you got power, you got the woman” and asked the crowd, “you know who said it first? Rosie o’ Donnell!”
George Lopez further explained that Scarface transcends film genre and generation and backed up his claim by quoting famous lines from--Jerry Maguire ("You had me at fuck you!”), Wizard of Oz (“Toto we’re not in fucking Kansas anymore!”) and Gone with the Wind (“Frankly, my dear I don’t give a fuck!”) in obvious reference to the movies record use of the F- word which many people say that if you remove all the cuss words in Scarface you won’t understand the movie at all.
He ended his one- man show by quoting Tony Montana, “You need people like me so that you can point a finger on me and say, that is the bad guy…. or the waiter!” a potshot to the stereotyping of Hispanics in the movies then.
And just before he exited the stage, he got something in his pocket and wipe it on his face and when he looked up again, he was transformed into a Tony Montana’s Coke- smeared face!
Let's watch Lt. Col. Frank Slade once again do the Tango and look closely to Ms. Anwar's lovely face err head as she move and dance to the sensual music and tell me what you noticed...