OSCARS: Academy To Launch Governors Awards Film Fest With Oprah And 'Exorcist'

EXCLUSIVE: The American Film Institute’s AFI Fest that gets underway on November 3 isn’t the only big movie organization with a festival in the next couple of weeks. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is giving it some competition and getting into the act promoting the third annual Governors Awards on November 12 by launching their first-ever Governors Awards Film Series, set for November 9-11 at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills.

Let’s just call it the Govs Fest.

Bringing attention to the three Honorary Oscar winners this year, the Academy will devote one night to each of them in the run-up to the big event. Each evening will be highlighted by a screening of one of their most significant film accomplishments and remarks from colleagues.

For Honorary Award recipient Dick Smith, the Acad is showing a newly restored digital version of the director’s cut of The Exorcist, perhaps the make-up wizard’s most famous work in which he transformed Linda Blair into the epitome of Satan. The Acad could have chosen Amadeus, which actually won Smith his only previous Oscar in 1984 for Best Makeup, or even The Godfather or Taxi Driver, but this is the way to go. You can bet if the Makeup category actually existed in 1973 when the William Friedkin film was released, it would have easily taken the prize (the Makeup category was not created until 1981). It will screen on Wednesday, November 9 with an introduction from Academy Governor Leonard Engelman and remarks from special guests including seven-time Oscar-winning makeup artist Rick Baker and the film’s cinematographer Owen Roizman. Smith will also be at the screening.

For Honorary Oscar recipient James Earl Jones, the Academy will show 1970’s The Great White Hope on Friday, November 11. It was his only Oscar-nominated performance (for Best Actor; he lost to George C. Scott’s Patton). Jones did win a Tony for the Broadway version two years earlier. Acad president Tom Sherak will introduce the screening, and there will be remarks from Jones colleagues including director Phillip Noyce and actor Courtney B. Vance.

For Jean Hersholt Humanitarian winner Oprah Winfrey, the choice was simple. She’s only had significant roles in three theatrical movies, and the only one that anyone remembers is Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple (1985), for which she was nominated as Best Supporting Actress. Sherak will introduce the film on Thursday, November 10, and there will be remarks from co-star Margaret Avery, who competed against her for Supporting Actress (they both lost to Angelica Huston) and was notorious that year for her controversial personal Oscar ad campaign.

Details are now posted on the Acad’s website. Tickets go on sale for all three films starting November 1 at Oscars.org, and the screenings begin at 7:30 PM. They are open to the general public unlike the actual Governors Awards, which aren’t televised and are strictly invitation-only. The latest edition is set for November 12 in the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland.