NEW YORK — Tributes typically come during the twilight of one's career, not when the honoree has, say, three films on the horizon.
So perhaps Monday night's tribute to Diane Keaton by the Film Society of Lincoln Center was an homage to only the first couple of chapters of the Annie Hall legend's career. After all, her next project, Mama's Boy with Jon Heder, is in theaters June 29. Other films in the works are Smother with Liv Tyler and Mad Money with Katie Holmes.
Keaton, 61, has 37 years of movies under her black-patent-leather belt, which during Monday night's tribute anchored a chic white shirt and black fishtail ball skirt ensemble that Keaton dismissed with her characteristically self-deprecating charm. "A skirt and a blouse — doesn't that sound exciting!" she said. "You can see that I went big."
Tributes almost by definition involve montages and, not surprisingly, the Sleeper star was none too comfortable about the prospect of watching herself for an hour in front of such a big audience.
But the film clips were not as anxiety-drumming as the night's finale, a 10-minute speech written and delivered by Keaton. "I'm not a stage actress, have you noticed? … I've sweated over this." So she shared her script in advance with friends, including Carol Kane.
"It's brilliant," said Kane, huddling with her friend in a dressing room just before showtime. "It's heartfelt."
Heartfelt, "that is what it is," said Keaton. "I master in heartfelt."
The theme? Gratitude. "I really do believe that gratitude is a hard one to kind of pull off, but it is the essence of everything for me tonight." She said she was grateful, and thrilled, by that fact that anybody came to toast her at all.
"Anybody" included Woody Allen, Meryl Streep, Steve Martin and Sarah Jessica Parker. Lisa Kudrow, a presenter, said she may have been Keaton's co-star (Hanging Up), but "the fan part will never go away."
Likewise the student part. "I just want to watch her every move, her every thought," said Kudrow, clad in a Keaton-reminiscent black pantsuit. Kudrow counts Keaton as a "very strong" influence. "I lean on everything she says or does … I just steal. I do."
Fan, colleague, friend — presenter Martin Short says he's "all those things" when it comes to Keaton, his Father of the Bride co-star. "I think she's kind of sensational in everything."
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