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My first Academy Awards were in 1977, when “Network” won Best Picture.  I’ve been covering Hollywood all this time since, so you can imagine, I’ve been to more than my fair share of awards shows.  Most are fun.  A handful are special, meaningful.  The Movies for Grownups Awards gala is an elegant jewel among Filmland events, as I was delighted to experience for myself last year.

The 10th Annual AARP Movies for Grownups were my first, and what a marvelous year it was to join the festivities– a night of royalty.  “The King’s Speech” and Colin Firth were recognized (as, indeed, they would be again by the Oscar folks later).  Their retinue included Geoffrey Rush and British royals Lord Frederick Windsor and his wife Sophie.  Firth was so witty, so British in his acceptance comments.  “When I told a senior member of my own family I was being acknowledged for something grown up, she said, ‘Finally,’” he quipped.

Of course there is no more prestigious Hollywood royalty than Robert Redford, the night’s Lifetime Achievement honoree, who was introduced by his long-time friend Sally Field.  He talked about the joy of the struggle and the climb, while some of us barely managed to refrain from swooning.  The exquisite ballroom of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel provided an ambiance of luxury and polish.  Dozens of stars turned out for the affair — names including Angela Lansbury, Larry Hagman, Jacqueline Bisset, Tony Bennett, Andy Garcia, Jane Seymour and Mickey Rooney.

What a celebration of engaging, grownup artists and artistry.  I’ve been to a lot of awards, but everything seemed new again at the brilliant Movies for Grownups gala.  With Sharon Stone receiving Lifetime Achievement honors and “The Descendants” our top film for grownups of the year, next week’s 11th Annual Movies for Grownups gala will have a character all its own as well.  Can’t wait.