MPA honors senator ‘Batman’, other lawmakers and director-screenwriter ‘Nanny’ as it kicks off awards season event

Govt. Phil Murphy (D-NJ), who once aspired to a career in entertainment, told a DC crowd, “I always dreamed, when I was considering acting…that maybe I’d get an Oscar, so that’s as close as I’m going to come.”

Murphy was one of the recipients this week of the first GPA Awards, the studio trade association and lobbying contribution to awards season. And since this is Washington, most of the winners were, naturally, lawmakers who particularly supported the industry and its policy agenda.

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“I accept, I guess, the best state performance in the motion picture industry,” Murphy said, noting productions like West Side Story who recently filmed there and revealing that some are “smashing the tires” to build one or more sound stages there.

president of the AMP Charles Rivkin hosted the event at headquarters a few blocks from the White House. He said he wanted the winners to “honor each year the work of people whose vital contributions allow our industry to continue to thrive.”

The event also marked a return to normal. Although the MPA unveiled its newly designed theater and reception space in 2019, the pandemic sidelined most events until the second half of last year, and even then the reopening process complete was slow. Attendees on Tuesday night were maskless, but had to present proof of vaccination.

The senator was also recognized. Thomas Tillis (R-NC) and Senator. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) received a lifetime achievement honor. Murphy recently signed an extension to the state’s movie tax credit, and Tillis and Leahy led Senate efforts to make illegal streaming a crime. Tillis also proposed reform of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, something that has long been on the wish list of many in the industry.

Writer-director Nikyatu Jusuincluding the first feature film Nanny won the Grand Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, received the MPA Creator Award. “I think cinema and movies can be an empathy machine that guides and helps audiences center and focus on a perspective that audiences wouldn’t typically fixate on,” she said.

Before Leahy spoke, the MPA aired excerpts from the current Senate Speaker’s five pro tem appearances in the Batman films, including one in The black Knight where he tells the Joker (Heath Ledger), “We’re not intimidated by thugs!”

“You know, you remind me of my dad,” the Joker then told him, before grabbing Leahy and saying, “I hated my father.”

Leahy said he has yet to see the latest from the franchise, The Batman, but has used its past experiences to promote the sector as a source of high-skilled jobs. “Even in the small rooms that I had in the Black Knight series, you see hundreds and hundreds of people, each one of them being experts in what they do,” he said. “You have the actors on screen, then you have hundreds, maybe thousands behind, and of course you have the local industry and what it does.”

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