An intimate group gathered at the Hotel Bel-Air Wednesday to cheer Diane Keaton on the eve of her receiving the film industry’s top tribute. Keaton, on Thursday evening at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, is set to become the 45th recipient of the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award following in the footsteps of Steve Martin, Morgan Freeman, Warren Beatty, Al Pacino, Jane Fonda, Mel Brooks and Shirley MacLaine, among many others to receive the honor.
“This tradition of the Lifetime Achievement Award, which we started many years ago, through the years have honored people who have, as we say in the criteria that we wrote long ago, in a fundamental way advanced the art of film and whose work has stood the test of time,” said AFI founding director George Stevens Jr. “And ‘Annie Hall’ is as good today or better as it was when she and Woody made it in 1977, and so Diane is being recognized for her career just as other great figures have.”
The AFI this year has its own milestone to celebrate as it turns 50 with a series of celebratory events, including one in Washington D.C., in October to, as Stevens said, “commemorate the fact that we have been around all this time and are still standing tall 50 years later. It wasn’t always certain we would be around.”
It turns out 1967 was a good year for many others, including South Coast Plaza — the evening’s sponsor — which has also been on a whirlwind tour thus far this year with 50th anniversary events of its own. The cocktail event to toast Keaton, however, hit close to home.
“She’s from Orange County and so she has a connection to Orange County, but we’ve had a longtime partner with AFI and Los Angeles is a very important market to us,” said the shopping center’s director of marketing Debra Gunn Downing. “We have a lot of great clients who come from Los Angeles so we like to be involved and supportive of the community up here in any way we can.”
The evening also paid tribute to Keaton’s unique sense of style with several businesses gifting the actress a white dress shirt — her signature wardrobe piece. There were seven in all, one for every day of the week, from South Coast Plaza retailers Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Max Mara, Roberto Cavalli, Marni, Anne Fontaine and CH Carolina Herrera.
“I think that she’s iconic for wearing white shirts, which she did when she wore Armani to the Oscars in 1976,” said Wanda McDaniel, executive vice president of entertainment industry communications worldwide at Giorgio Armani and wife of “The Godfather” producer Al Ruddy. “Mr. Armani started his company in 1975, so that’s how fashion-aware she was. She is someone who is ahead of the game always in fashion.”