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Irish go Wilde at Bad Robot

Chad Hurley and Conan O'Brien Honored

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27 February 2014:  Conan O’Brien and YouTube founder Chad Hurley were honored tonight at the US-Ireland Alliance’s 9th annual “Oscar Wilde:  Honoring the Irish in Film.”  Held for the third year at J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot in Santa Monica, the Irish rain held off until the evening’s end.

Joel McHale presented O’Brien with his award while YouTube personality ShayCarl presented to Hurley.  Fresh from their debut appearance on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” the young Irish band, The Strypes, wowed the crowd that included dozens in the music business.

Lionsgate Vice Chairman Michael Burns stood in on behalf of usual emcee J.J. Abrams, who is away shooting STAR WARS, and opened the night in a poignant way by paying tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman -- a part of Lionsgate’s HUNGER GAMES and Abrams’ MISSION IMPOSSIBLE -- saying that “Oscar Wilde, tonight’s patron saint, imagined death as a place to ‘forget time, forgive life and to be at peace,’ and we hope this is true for Phil.”  Burns encouraged support for the Alliance’s George J. Mitchell Scholarship program, expressing disbelief that the State Department would eliminate funding for the scholarship that has become so competitive that many applicants are opting for it over the Rhodes Scholarship. 

Honoree Chad Hurley used Google to diligently confirm his credentials for the award and relayed that his connection to Ireland dates back to the eighteenth century and thanked “my family and, especially one man…Daniel Hurley who first came to this country and in a way made this all possible.”

Conan joked that he is truly Irish unlike previous honorees, “J.J. Abrams, Russian Jew Paul Rudd” and then listed an imagined group of past honorees, including Idi Amin.  Later in his remarks, as if on cue, when O’Brien spoke of his policeman grandfather, he had to shout over police sirens on Olympic Boulevard.  O’Brien thanked the authentically Irish in the crowd—not just the “Kiss Me I’m Irish people”—for the honor.

US-Ireland Alliance president, Trina Vargo was “thrilled that the predicted torrential rainstorm (which in LA means a quarter inch) with a relaxed and lively Irish night.”   The USIA’s annual event has become a fixture on the awards season calendar as a way for some of the Hollywood’s brightest stars to unwind.

Irish actress and former honoree Sarah Bolger gave away a trip to Ireland that includes business class tickets from Delta Air Lines and stays at the Westbury, Doonbeg, Wineport and The Ice House hotels.  Accenture and Delta Air Lines were the lead sponsors of an evening that also included such iconic Irish brands of Guinness, Bushmills, and Baileys and Tipperary Crystal.

Those on hand included host Katie McGrath; Philomena Lee, the Irishwoman portrayed by Dame Judi Dench in one of this year’s Oscar nominated films; execs such as HBO Films President Len Amato and Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly; many television and filmmakers from Bad Robot, HBO and Lionsgate; Snow Patrol; former honoree and CAA agent Hylda Queally and host Katie McGrath.  Walking the ‘green’ carpet were actors Dana Delany, Jason O’Mara, Jason Barry; singer Joey McInytre; film producers Suzanne Todd, Pat Crowley, Jane Evans, writer Tim Dowling and G.I. JOE director and Justin Bieber documentarian, Jon M. Chu.   Several guests flew in from Ireland including James Hickey and Naoise Barry of the Irish Film Board; producers Morgan O’Sullivan and James Flynn; filmmakers Garret Daly and Martina McGlynn; F.ounders founder Paddy Cosgrave, and SOS Ventures founder Sean O’Sullivan. Oscar nominees seen in the crowd included NEBRASKA producer Ron Yerxa; Baldwin Li and Mark Gill, nominated for and Oscar for Best Live Action Short for THE VOORMAN PROBLEM; and Belgian director Felix van Groeningen and actress Veerle Baetens, Best Foreign Language Film, THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN.

Also present was New York-based Brian O’Carroll, Director of Photography of the Indie Spirit nominated 'best first feature,' BLUE CAPRICE; Alice Eve; Antonia Campbell-Hughes; and Academy award winning composer Michael Giacchino.

L.A. Galaxy and Irish footballer Robbie Keane introduced The Strypes and invited them along to the LA Galaxy training session. 

As a result of the popularity of this annual event that brings together the Irish and Irish Americans in the entertainment business, the US-Ireland Alliance recently launched the ‘by invitation’ Cultúr Club, a way to bring people together more frequently.