Cher, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Shirley MacLaine, Jack Nicholson, Julia Roberts, and Meryl Streep were among those honoring Mike Nichols at the 38th AFI Life Achievement Award tribute held at Sony Pictures Studios last night. The star-studded black-tie gala will air on June 26 at 8 p.m. Central time on TV Land.
After an introduction by 2009 AFI Life Achievement winner, Michael Douglas, the gala featured a surprise show-stopping performance by legendary duo Simon and Garfunkel singing the Grammy Award-winning song “Mrs. Robinson” from Nichols’ 1967 Oscar-winning film The Graduate. The show pulled out all the stops in celebrating Nichols’ impressive career as one of the few artists to have received the Oscar, the Emmy, the Tony, and the Grammy.
Show highlights included a moving tribute from Julia Roberts of Nichols’ film Closer and Elaine May, Nichols’ writing and comedy partner and friend for over 60 years, as well as a hilarious monologue by Robin Williams of The Birdcage. English comedian Eric Idle brought the house down with a sing-a-long performance of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from Spamalot wearing the iconic wings from Angels in America. Kevin Spacey had the audience in stitches with his Jack Nicholson impression and tribute to Nichols. Several notable stars from the honoree’s films and friends also paid tribute including Calista Flockhart (The Birdcage), Dustin Hoffman (The Graduate), Shirley MacLaine (Postcards from the Edge), Mary-Louise Parker (Angels in America), and Emma Thompson (Wit), to name a few.
Meryl Streep, winner of the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2004, whose collaborations with Mike Nichols over the past 30 years have garnered her Oscar and Emmy Award nominations, had the honor of presenting the award to Nichols beginning with a poem she wrote especially for the occasion. Streep finished her speech by saying, “It’s Mike’s grace that makes you feel, when you work with him, like you’ve been invited to an impromptu gathering of the most interesting, inventive people in town, and somehow, miraculously, you’re one of those people.”
Upon receiving the award, Nichols stated, “If I thanked all who contributed importantly over the years, we would be here till Miley Cyrus’s AFI Award.”
Also among the guests present were Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Candice Bergen, Kate Capshaw, Tim Curry, Nora Ephron, Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, John Goodman, Taylor Hackford, Tom Hanks, Ken Howard, Dame Helen Mirren, Diane Sawyer, George Segal, Wallace Shawn, Aaron Sorkin, Steven Spielberg, Steven Weber, Forest Whitaker, and others.