• Of the five features that Jean-Pierre Jeunet has directed, three place high on my list of favorite films. Therefore I am very happy to hear that he has just been knighted by France's Legion of Honor. The ceremony took place on Wednesday, where Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres called Jeunet, "an atypical, unusual filmmaker, who created more than just a style -- an entire universe."
  • Neil Simon will be awarded the Mark Twain Award for humor by the Kennedy Center in a ceremony on October 15. The Center's officials cited Simon as America's foremost playwright, but the honor will also be in recognition of his contributions to film and television. Proving himself still funny at age 78, Simon joked about the award by saying, "It makes up for my losing the Samuel Clemens Prize." Simon was one of my idols in high school, when I was writing my own semi-autobiographical plays and performing in scenes from his works, such as The Prisoner of Second Avenue. We could use more writers like him on Broadway and in Hollywood.
  • It may not be an award, but I would call it an honor to be named head of the jury for The Venice Film Festival (Aug. 30 - Sept. 9), and Catherine Deneuve is the person given that honor this year. The actress is familiar to the fest, as she starred in the 1967 Golden Lion winner Belle de Jour and won the Volpi Cup Award for Best Actress in 1998 for Place Vendrôme. American filmmakers in competition might hope for the best from Deneuve, as she was on the Cannes jury in 1994 that awarded Pulp Fiction the Palme d'Or.