FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA:
Well, George [Lucas] is the closest thing I have to a younger brother, so you can imagine the affection and the pride I have in him. But there were so many... I'm about three or four or five years older than the wonderful generation that did so much, so I'm very proud of them. And the fact that this is the Thalberg Award is, the significance is not lost on me. Because this is an award for producing. This is not about my own writing and my own filmmaking, but this is about the talent that I came to really value. And it's more about "American Graffiti" and "The Black Stallion" and "Koyaanisqatsi," and I could go on, about "Napoleon" performed in the Radio City Music Hall with a live orchestra. That happened because I'd always heard from my father that in the days when he was a boy, when he went to the movies to see "Don Juan" or "The Thief of Bagdad," that there was a symphony orchestra. And I said, gee, I'd love to see that. And the way to see it was to take the "Napoleon" restoration and get a full-out symphony orchestra and perform it. And it was a wonderful hit. It was riveting. And I'm so proud of the fact that that tradition of once again combining live music with the great silent films, or with any film, has become really something that we can see.
I don't have any words prepared. In fact, I'm shooting a picture, and last night – we're shooting nights, so I went to bed around four in the morning last night. And I said, well, I'll just get up and thank everyone for this honor. I remember seeing the Thalberg Award given and thought, wow, that's fantastic. And in a way, although I still consider myself a relatively young person, I'm one of the few people you'll meet today who actually worked for Jack Warner and had him say, "No fog on the lake!" Or Sam Goldwyn when he said to me, you know, [imitating:] "Your films, I like your films for the spontinuity" [purposefully mispronounces], he said to me. So I had the pleasure – I do a great Samuel Goldwyn, as does Warren [Beatty]. He said to me, Samuel Goldwyn said to me, he said [imitating:] "What are you doing? You're a Goldwyn Scholar. You're so great." I said, well I want to direct, too. [Imitating:] "Direct? You should be a writer. Writer, you are a writer. You're a great writer. Write! Write! Write!" So a year later I made a film, and I got a letter: Mr. Goldwyn would like to see you. He said, [imitating:] "Oh, you're a Goldwyn Scholar –" This is really the way he talked, by the way, I'm not... [Imitating:] "You're a Goldwyn Scholar." He said, "What are you doing?" I said, well, I'm thinking of writing a new film. [Imitating:] "Writing? You're a director now! Writers are nothing. Direct! Direct! Direct!" So, you know, Adolph Zukor, Darryl Zanuck, who incidentally, as was said, was the first winner of the Thalberg Award, and I think he won it more than once as a matter of fact. So I have a great love of the original Hollywood tradition, certainly going back to the silents which were some of the most beautiful movies ever made. Murnau, by the way, had said himself, he said, "The coming of sound to movies was inevitable, but it came too soon." It came too soon, which there is some truth in. Those were beautiful films.
I, you know, I'm so proud of my family: my wife of forty-eight years, Eleanor, who's here; my fabulous children. I made a very wise decision when I was a young guy. I said to my wife, if I ever go away for more than two weeks I want to take the kids out of school – imagine that today – take the kids out of school. I'm taking them with me. And we always did, and as a result we had our family together through all of those adventures in the Philippines and what have you. So, and then of course the other children in the Schwartzman family, and of course in, I can't say the Cage family, but we're very proud of Nicolas as you can imagine. So I could tell you lots of stories but I haven't prepared any notes or anything other than to thank you from the bottom of my heart. And my admiration for the tradition of Irving Thalberg and, of course, of the fantastic producers who have won it, and not the least of it is Dino. You know, what a loss, to lose... [imitating:] "Dino, eh. You know, Francis..." I don't do Dino so well. I think Warren does Dino. At any rate, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I thank my family. I thank my friends. So many of my friends are here tonight and people I've worked with, my colleagues, and the people whose films I've admired. Thank you so much. Thank you.
[Ed. note: Thalberg recipient Dino De Laurentiis passed away on 11/10/2010.]