Academy Defends Winfrey as Honorary Oscar Winner

Oprah Winfrey and James Earl Jones

Film academy president Tom Sherak is coming to Oprah Winfrey’s defense.

Sherak says Winfrey is “one of the most philanthropic performers in the world” and thus deserving of the academy’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

TheAcademyofMotion Picture Artsand Sciences voted Tuesday to present Winfrey with an Oscar statuette at the annual Governors Awards in November. James Earl Jones and makeup artist Dick Smith will also receive honorary Oscars at the private ceremony.

Blogs have been abuzz with criticism over the academy’s selection of Winfrey for the award. One newspaper entertainment critic called it “a boneheaded move.”

Sherak said the academy’s board of governors “felt very strongly” about honoring Winfrey and are “very happy” about the decision.

“Oprah has given and given and given,” he said. “This is not about personality. This is about a person who has come from the depths, risen to the heights and given back…That’s a perfect example of why this award was created.”

Winfrey was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar in 1985 for The Color Purple.

Jones, who is best known as the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars film, has appeared in more than 50 films during his career and was Oscar nominated in 1971 for The Great White Hope.

His other credits include Field of Dreams, Patriot Games and The Hunt for Red October.

Known in the industry as “the godfather of make-up”, Smith won an Oscar in 1984 for his work on Amadeus.

He also worked on The Exorcist, Taxi Driver and The Deer Hunter.



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