The American Film Institute and TV Land announced today that American film’s finest performers Cher, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep are among the many in the arts and entertainment community who are scheduled to appear when AFI honors beloved film, television and stage director Mike Nichols with the AFI Life Achievement Award. The gala will take place on Thursday, June 10th in the historic Stage 15 on the Sony Studios lot in Culver City, CA. “TV Land Presents: The AFI Life Achievement Awards Honoring Mike Nichols” premieres on TV Land in June.
Cher, Hanks, Roberts and Streep join an outstanding list of Hollywood’s finest that have come together to form a planning committee for this gala honoring Nichols. Previously announced members of the planning committee include Amy Adams, Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Candice Bergen, Nora Ephron, Harrison Ford, Whoopi Goldberg, Dustin Hoffman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Shirley MacLaine, Steve Martin, Elaine May, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Mary-Louise Parker, Natalie Portman, Robert Redford, Elizabeth Taylor, Emma Thompson, Sigourney Weaver and Robin Williams.
Cher, who was already well-known as the Bob Mackie-clad lead singer in the hit pop duo, Sonny and Cher, branched out into films in 1982 with a reprisal of her Broadway role in the film version of “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.” Following that project, she garnered her first Academy Award nomination under the direction of Mike Nichols for her role in “Silkwood” where she co-starred with fellow AFI planning committee member and AFI Life Achievement Award honoree, Meryl Streep.
Tom Hanks most recently worked with Nichols on “Charlie Wilson’s War” starring fellow AFI Life Achievement Award Planning Committee members Amy Adams, Philips Seymour Hoffman and Julia Roberts. Hanks received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2002.
Julia Roberts, the gentile Georgian with the million dollar smile, propelled to stardom in 1990 with her breakout role in “Pretty Woman.” Her first film with Nichols was “Closer,” which also starred Natalie Portman, Jude Law and Clive Owen. In 2007, she re-joined Nichols on the big screen playing Texas socialite Joanne Herring in “Charlie Wilson’s War.”
Meryl Streep collaborations with Mike Nichols over the past 30 years have been remarkable. Each time Streep has worked with Nichols, she has been nominated for either an Oscar or an Emmy Award. In 1983, Streep played nuclear plant worker turned whistle blower Karen Silkwood in “Silkwood.” In 1991, Streep starred in “Postcards From the Edge,” the Carrie Fisher autobiography. Her most recent collaboration with Nichols garnered Streep an Emmy Award for her role as Ethel Rosenberg in the highly acclaimed HBO mini-series, “Angels in America.” Streep received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 2004.
HP and AT&T are the gala evening’s sponsors and American Airlines returns as the official airline of the American Film Institute.
About Mike Nichols
Born in Berlin in 1931, Mike Nichols fled Nazi Germany at age eight. He was certified a genius at 12, became half of the hit comedy act “Nichols and May” in his twenties, was an acclaimed director of stage and screen in his thirties, conquered television and now, in his late seventies, remains a force equally at ease in all mediums. He is one of the few artists to have received the Oscar, the Emmy, the Tony and the Grammy.
After spending his adolescence in New York, Nichols attended the University of Chicago where he met Elaine May. The two writers developed the premier comedy act of the late 50s, performing in clubs, on TV and eventually on Broadway, where their show, “An Evening with Nichols and May” (1960) led to a Grammy-winning recording.
After they split, Nichols found a new collaborator in playwright Neil Simon, directing four hit Broadway shows “Barefoot in the Park,” “The Odd Couple,” “Plaza Suite” and “The Prisoner of Second Avenue” all Tony Award winners.
Having honed his craft on stage, Nichols moved to the big screen in 1966, when Elizabeth Taylor handpicked him to direct “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Despite studio objections, Nichols shot the film in stark black and white, occasionally using handheld shots to intensify the dramatic tension. “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” was both a box-office and critical success, earning 13 Academy Award nominations, including one for each of the four actors as well as for Best Director.
Nichols’ second film, “The Graduate” (1967), won him the Best Directing Oscar. He went on to direct an adaptation of Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22” (1970), “Carnal Knowledge” (1971), “The Day of the Dolphins” (1973) and the period comedy “The Fortune” (1975). He returned to Broadway in 1977, staging two very different hits: the musical “Annie” and the drama “The Gin Game” with Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy.
In 1983, Nichols returned to features films with the biopic “Silkwood”. Reuniting with both Streep and Nicholson in 1986, he helmed “Heartburn,” an adaptation of Nora Ephron’s best-selling novel, followed by “Working Girl” (1988), an adaptation of Carrie Fisher’s semi-autobiographical “Postcards from the Edge” (1990), “The Birdcage” (1996) and “Primary Colors” (1998).
In 2001, Nichols returned to television directing Emma Thompson in an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “Wit” for HBO, earning Emmy Awards for directing and producing. He followed up in 2003, producing and directing the six-part miniseries adaptation of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America” for HBO, which received 11 Emmy Awards. Then, in his triumphant return to Broadway in 2005, he won his sixth Tony as Best Director for the musical “Spamalot,” based on the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975). And in 2007, well into his seventies, Nichols returned to features to direct “Charlie Wilson’s War”.