ASIFA-Hollywood's Annie Awards are a high point in the animated year and this year was no exception, if a bit frigid around the edges.
The Annie Awards truly are the Oscars of Hollywood animation. In fact they are better than the Oscars because they are much more relaxed and we're the ones being honored. Held each year by ASIFA-Hollywood, the well-coifed (one time a year only please!) who's who of animation come out to walk the red carpet of the Alex Theatre. Indeed, the best part of the event is usually the reception before and after the ceremony, simply because it is a time to see old friends and make new ones -- an opportunity that we don't often get. In the same vein, the ceremony is a delight as the community gets to see their own awarded and congratulated on another year of hard work.
On Saturday, November 11, 2000, ASIFA-Hollywood held their 28th annual Annie Award ceremony at the aforementioned historic Alex Theatre in Glendale's thriving downtown arts district. The awards presentation went by at a lively clip due to the always funny and endearing duo of Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche, the voice team of Pinky and the Brain. While presenters kept their banter to a minimum (thank you!), the winners were allowed to thank their crew and staff and even make wagers from the stage. I am glad that ASIFA-Hollywood realizes that the Annies are an opportunity for their award winners to shine and give them ample time to accept their prizes. There were many lovely moments, including June Foray presenting her award of service to Linda Simensky who was obviously honored. Winsor McCay Award winner Lucille Bliss could hardly contain herself and proved that one is only as old as one feels as she raced through her speech, listing past and current projects, stating that she was excited and ready to keep right on acting. Susan McKinsey Goldberg was so thankful and moved, she held back tears while accepting her award for outstanding production design on Fantasia/2000. After helping to create such a glorious sequence as "Rhapsody in Blue" though, I think the entire audience wanted to shout back, "No, thank you!"
In the heated feature categories, Toy Story 2 was the clear winner with seven victories and Pixar took the attention in stride, humorously giving us a lesson in the strange ways of Northern Californians. Their appearance at the awards has fueled a rumor here in So Cal who knew one had to be well-over six feet tall to work at Pixar? We'd never seen so many tall people!
The one unfortunate aspect of the evening was something that we Southern Californians probably could have learned about from those that came from up North. It was cold. Really cold. Unusually cold for Los Angeles, and because it is Los Angeles, no one had apparently even considered ordering some heating lamps in case of a turn in the weather. (If the weather is not perfect Angelenos tend to get outraged -- 'How dare the weather not be perfect?! Who has ever heard of such a thing ruining such well laid plans?') Therefore, despite champagne and finger foods, the crowds dispersed quickly, heading for warmer digs. However, one couldn't deny the glow of community that most attendees left with, whether or not they had an Annie in their hand.
For a complete list of winners visit our Headline News item.
Heather Kenyon is editor-in-chief of Animation World Network. After receiving her B.F.A. in Filmic Writing from USC's School of Cinema-Television, she went to work for Hanna-Barbera Cartoons. Currently, she is an International Board Member of Women In Animation and on the Board of Trustees for Trees for Life.