RP INTERNATIONAL ANNOUNCES HONOREES
FOR 36TH ANNUAL VISION AWARDS
AT THE BEVERLY WILSHIRE, SATURDAY, JUNE 27TH
LAWRENCE BENDER, JIM WALTON, MATTHEW WEINER,IAN SANDER & KIM MOSES, DIANE LADD, SHONDA RHIMES, JILLIAN MICHAELS AND STEPHEN NEMETH
AMONG THOSE HONORED
Los Angeles, CA, June 5, 2009 – Many of Hollywood’s best and brightest in film, television and music will descend upon the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, on Saturday, June 27 for the star-studded, 36th Annual Vision Awards ™. The gala fundraising event, which has become an annual Hollywood tradition, honors entertainment and business luminaries as well as medical professionals who have exhibited exceptional gifts of sight, foresight and insight in the creative arts, related technologies and medical research.
Presented by RP International, the nation’s leading non-profit fighting Retinitis Pigmentosa and other blinding eye diseases, this year’s awards will once again be led by legendary Daily Variety columnist, Army Archerd, and will feature a presentation by Larry King, Former U.S. Congressman from Iowa, Berkley Bedell, and a musical performance by actress and music artist, Taryn Manning (HUSTLE AND FLOW).
Honorees include Leader of Vision, Jim Walton, President of CNN Worldwide, Film Artist of Vision: Diane Ladd (RAMBLING ROSE, WILD AT HEART); Film Producer of Vision: Lawrence Bender (INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS); Producer of Vision – Documentary: Stephen Nemeth (FIELDS OF FUEL, FLOW: FOR LOVE OF WATER); Producers of Vision – Television: Ian Sander and Kim Moses (GHOST WHISPERER), Matthew Weiner (MAD MEN); Woman of Vision – Entertainment: Shonda Rhimes (GREY’S ANATOMY); Woman of Vision – Fitness & Motivation: Jillian Michaels (THE BIGGEST LOSER); Screenwriter of Vision: Grant Nieporte (SEVEN POUNDS); Lester Sill Award-Composer/Editor of Vision: John Ottman (VALKYRIE) and Film of Vision: TWILIGHT (producers: Wyck Godfrey, Greg Mooradian, Mark Morgan and Guy Oseary).
The 2009 Vision Awards also celebrates the ongoing work of RP International’s descriptive TheatreVision ™, which RP International founder and president, Helen Harris developed in 1994, to allow blind movie goers the ability to enjoy described films inside a motion picture theatre. The first such film was Paramount Picture’s FORREST GUMP. Since that time, Harris’ TheatreVision ™ has described nearly 500 programs via patented technology.
This year’s Theatre Vision Description Awards honorees are:
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
TWO AND A HALF MEN
The primary medical award being given out at the Vision Awards this year will be the Jules Stein Living Tribute Award, which goes to Dr. Shalesh Kaushal, MD. Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Massachusetts, Kaushal was the first investigator in the world to use complement inhibitor molecules to treat patients and is a principal investigator for a complement inhibitor research study for wet age-related macular degeneration. Most recently, he has published research on the use of gene therapy to treat a type of congenital human blindness known as Leber Congenital Amaurosis.
The Vision Awards is produced by RP International, the nation’s leading non-profit fighting degenerative eye diseases. RPI was founded by blind activist, Helen Harris, a Woodland Hills housewife who, in 1972, was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), a degenerative blinding disease, along with her two young sons. Physicians told Harris that there would be no hope, no help and no cure. Harris and her family set out to prove them wrong, and to prove that a cure for blindness could become a reality. Today, due to Harris’ ongoing efforts, the international organization that she founded works year round to assist in the march toward a cure, help those afflicted with Retinitis Pigmentosa and bring awareness to the plight of those suffering with RP.
RP International raises funds to support facilities that specialize in all degenerative eye research, including Retinitis Pigmentosa, Macular Degeneration and Usher’s Syndrome. Previous Vision Awards honorees include James Cameron, Todd Field, Wes Craven, Andy Garcia, Malcolm McDowell, George Romero, Roone Arledge, Phil Collins, Jim Carrey, Robert Halmi, Sr., Katie Couric, Bob Hope, Norman Jewison, Stephen King, David Letterman, Oliver Stone, Gene Roddenberry, Martin Landau, Stacy Keach, Vin Scully, Aaron Spelling, Lorne Michaels, Matt Damon, Robert Wise, Jon Voight, The Blind Boys of Alabama and Jim Henson.
For ticket information and contributions, please visit http://www.VisionAwards.org, call 1-800-FIGHT-RP, or write to P.O. Box 900, Woodland Hills, California 91365. Fax 818-992-3265.
My job (or jobs – depending on how you look at it) for the American Film Institute, AFI FEST, AFI DALLAS, the Indian Film Festival, Lone Star Film Festival, Feel Good Film Festival and last, but certainly not least – The Vision Awards has required me to increasingly to take on the role of spokesperson. Which honestly, I am happy and sometimes relieved to do because I know exactly what I want to say and what I think people need to know about each of those film festivals, events and organizations. Of course, I’ll hear or watch myself afterwards and appropriately loathe myself for opening my mouth and preaching my happy version of the movie gospel like that too loud guy standing in front of you in any line anywhere in Los Angeles or worse – like that roommate or co-worker or ill-chosen boyfriend or girlfriend you just can’t escape well enough.
And, yet – after the handful of television, radio, and print interviews, panels, Q&As, there is much more to say. And even after hating listening to the sound of my painful earnestness and in the worst cases – obviousness, there is still so much more to say. So now – after a lot of prompting by my wife (a dedicated and much more prolific writer, herself) to begin writing and blogging about what I’m doing and what I’m seeing – from my perspective – well, I’m gonna give it a shot.
And while I won’t always be writing about “work”, a good amount will be about film, filmmakers and the film festival world because the films and filmmakers I give the largest rat’s ass about need as many voices singing their praises and alerting everyone as to their existence as they can get. David Redmon and Ashley Sabin and their wonderful, intimate documentaries like KAMP KATRINA and INTIMIDAD, Jacob Medjuck’s SUMMERHOOD, Johnny Asuncion’s FLOAT, Daniel Stamm’s A NECESSARY DEATH, pretty much everything Bill Sebastian (MIDLOTHIA) has done since I’ve known him, Mo Perkins’ A QUIET LITTLE MARRIAGE, Sabine El Gemayal’s NILOOFAR – there are so many more, but I’ll stop this list for now.
And film festivals – well, in these tough economic times – they are under siege in more than a few ways. Sponsors are going away, and there is a lot of fair weather support out there that is hanging by a thread by small groups of people in each case that see their film festival as just that – theirs. And so they work harder and harder to keep it going and make the next edition better than the last. And they deserve someone shining a light on them too. So here we go….