There was no red carpet or Hollywood glitz, but the first Jewish Image Awards, honoring outstanding work reflecting Jewish heritage in film and television, proved a lot shorter and funnier than the more celebrated Oscar ceremonies.
Veteran director Arthur Hiller ("Love Story," "Plaza Suite," "The Man in the Glass Booth") received the Tisch Lifetime Achievement Award. It was presented by the multitalented Carl Reiner, who spent most of the introduction pointing out why Hiller didn't deserve the award.
The Cross-Cultural Award went to "Backstory: Gentleman's Agreement," Kevin Burns' documentary on the making of the groundbreaking 1947 film on American anti-Semitism, which aired on American Movie Classics.
Master of ceremonies Jeffrey Tambor revealed that he had auditioned for an alleged remake of "Gentleman's Agreement," but was rejected as "too Jewish."
"They're going for Denzel [Washington]," Tambor deadpanned.
The award ceremony, in the form of an early evening cocktail reception at the Beverly Hilton, was originally scheduled for Sept. 12, but was postponed to last week after the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Howard Bragman and Alan Kannof served as the evening's co-chairs.
Other winners at the event, sponsored by the Los Angeles Entertainment Industry Council of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, were:
- Outstanding Achievement Awards: "Rugrats 10th Anniversary."
- Network Television Award: ABC miniseries "Anne Frank."
- Cable Television Film Award: "Varian's War" (Showtime).
- Documentary Film Award: "Into the Arms of Strangers" (Warner Bros.).
- Television Series Award: "The West Wing" (Warner/NBC)
- Female Character in Television: Hannah Taylor Gordon in the title role in "Anne Frank."
- Male Character in Television: Richard Schiff, who plays the president's Communications Director Toby Ziegler in "The West Wing."
- Female Character in Film: Rachel Weisz in "Enemy at the Gates" (Paramount).
- Male Character in Film: Steven Weber in "Club Land" (Showtime).
- MorningStar Commission's Woman of Inspiration Award: Entertainment attorney Patti Felker.