LOS ANGELES On Thursday, A.F.I. handed out its highest film honor, the 39th Lifetime Achievement Award, to Morgan Freeman. Adding to the star wattage on site at Sony Pictures Studios for the event were Clint Eastwood, Helen Mirren, Sidney Poitier, and Matthew Broderick, among other huge names, giving the annual party its typical sense of heft and importance. And for a group of attendees who might rightly be described as Hollywood royalty, the after-party following the award ceremony had to have an appropriately pulled-together look—which in this case borrowed its inspiration from honoree Freeman's own roots and interests. A.F.I. director of special events Tess Csiszar oversaw the event, working with Precision Event Group to execute the production.
“When researching the interests and hobbies of Morgan Freeman, I learned that he was part owner of the Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and an avid fan and supporter of the genre,” explained Precision's Jason Wanderer. “With this knowledge we suggested creating an outdoor blues club environment for the post-party.”
Elements included tufted rich brown booth seating vignettes on elevated risers combined with espresso wood rectangular communal tables and square dinner tables covered in citrus linen. Sunflowers atop twigs, branches, and Spanish moss entwined the center bar, while natural wood boxes filled with espresso beans held individual arrangements. A video montage of Freeman’s work projected on a wall served as the backdrop for the event while blues selections played.
The Wolfgang Puck menu, based on Mississippi favorites, included such dishes as short rib and pimiento cheese grilled cheese, grit cakes with grilled shrimp, beer-batter-fried pickles, crab cakes with remoulade, mini catfish po’boys, and watermelon and feta cubes with tarragon. Rich, Southern-style desserts came in the form of banana pudding cups, pecan tarts, carrot cake bites, key lime tarts, strawberry shortcake parfaits, and chocolate peanut butter truffles.
The ceremony will air on TV Land on June 19.