A "Wilde" Night in Hollywood
Los Angeles - The US-Ireland Alliance honored producer James L. Brooks, and actors Fiona Shaw and Colm Meaney at its third annual "Oscar Wilde: Honoring The Irish in Film" pre-Academy Awards party tonight (February 21, 2008) at the Wilshire Ebell, Los Angeles. Charles C. Koones, CEO of Rockmore Media and former President and Publisher of The Variety Group emceed. Belfast musician Duke Special wowed the audience with his performance. Oscar-winners Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova also sang for the intimate crowd of 350 people and Glen joined Duke on stage to cap off a magical evening.
Jim Brooks brought the audience to their feet with the tale of his confused upbringing – his father always told him he was Irish and so naturally he was bewildered when he learned his grandfather’s name was Bernstein. But he was thrilled to be made an honorary Irishman, thus making his father an honest man. Colm talked about his transatlantic career and his pride of having a foot in both the Irish and US film worlds. Fiona talked about being in town at the time of the Oscars and eloquently quoted the Yeats poem, Sailing to Byzantium, which begins with the line ‘that is no country for old men.” She also brought laughs with an unprintable joke that she said had been told to her by Brenda Fricker and said she was glad her mother wasn’t there to hear it.
Trina Vargo, President of the US-Ireland Alliance said the evening was “all we hoped for and more. The honorees are not only talented and eloquent but they were incredibly funny. We’re delighted that the relaxed, low-maintenance feel of the event has caught on and made the event such a sought after ticket.”
Hosted by the US-Ireland Alliance, a non-profit organization created to foster ties between the US and Ireland, the event was designed to honor the Irish in film and bring together people in the film industry in the US and Ireland. In three years, the event has earned the reputation of being a casual, fun Irish party in advance of the Academy Awards. The Alliance hosted a long list of Irish and “honorary Irish” at the event, including James L. Brooks, Fiona Shaw, Colm Meaney, JJ Abrams, Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova, Jeff Berg, Eric Stoltz, Doug Wick, Lucy Fisher, Hans Zimmer, Kirsten Sheridan, Neil Jordan, Michelle Burke Winter, Richard Sakai, Donal Logue, Janet Hirshenson, Jane Jenkins, Charlie Koones, John Carney, Geoffrey Gilmore, Orian Williams, and Mike Hagerty. Previous honorees are Van Morrison, Terry George, Bill Monahan, Neil Jordan, Jim Sheridan and David Holmes.
Three-time Academy Award-winner and 12-time Emmy Award-winner, James L. Brooks began his television career as a writer and later produced television hits such as Taxi, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, Lou Grant, Room 222, The Tracey Ullman Show, and The Simpsons. He began working in film in 1979 when he wrote the screenplay for Starting Over, which he co-produced with Alan J. Pakula. In 1983, he earned three Academy Awards for Terms of Endearment, which he wrote, produced and directed. Also on his long list of writing, directing and producing credits are War of the Roses, Say Anything, Big, I'll Do Anything, Bottle Rocket, Jerry Maguire, and As Good as It Gets.
Cork born Fiona Shaw is a veteran of both stage and film, seen most recently as Harry Potter’s nasty aunt, Petunia Dursley in the series of Harry Potter movies. Her career extends well beyond that, dating back to her first major role as Dr. Eileen Cole in Jim Sheridan’s 1989 Oscar Award winning film, My Left Foot. She went on to roles in 3 Men and a Little Lady, Persuasion, Jane Eyre, The Butcher Boy, and The Black Dahlia, among others. This year she played opposite Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling in Fracture. Onstage, Shaw received a Tony nomination for her performance as Medea in 2003. Earlier this month, she was nominated for another Olivier for her role as Winnie in Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days.
Born in Dublin, Colm Meaney left school at the age of 17 to apprentice as a fisherman, but his love of acting led him to enroll in drama classes at The Abbey, Dublin’s National Theater. In 1982 he made his Broadway debut in “Breaking The Code,” opposite Derek Jacobi. Meaney is perhaps best known for his role as Chief Operating Officer Miles O’Brien on the television series, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” However, he has a long resume of large studio as well as small independent film roles that have gained him recognition in Ireland and abroad including The Commitments, The Dead, Con Air, Under Siege, Far and Away, Layer Cake, Intermission, This Is My Father, The Englishman That Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain, and Into The West. Most recently, Meaney starred in Kings, a film about Irish-speaking laborers searching for an identity in an anonymous London in the 1970’s. He just finished filming 3 And Out, a comedy with Mackenzie Crook and Imelda Staunton, and is awaiting the release of Five Fingers, in which he stars opposite Laurence Fishburne and Ryan Phillippe.
The statues given the honorees are a gift from Tiffany & Co. Guests enjoyed a spread of treats provided by Kensington Caterer’s Richard Mooney, a Limerick, Ireland to LA transplant.
Major event sponsors include The Variety Group, Quinlan Private and American Airlines.