Two public schools with curricula that focus on the
arts, literature and photography, will benefit from the DaimlerChrysler
"Behind the Lens" Award that was presented this week to noted photographer
and filmmaker, Gordon Parks. Parks received the award in recognition of
his significant contributions behind the scenes in the entertainment
industry, according to the company.
The award included a $25,000 donation from the DaimlerChrysler Corporation
Fund that will be shared by two schools named in honor of the legendary
artist - - The Gordon Parks Elementary School in Kansas City, Missouri, and
Gordon Parks Academy in East Orange, New Jersey. Both schools exemplify
Parks' passion for teaching and learning.
"I am very grateful to DaimlerChrysler to receive the 'Behind the Lens'
Award," said Parks from his home in New York. "It is high on my list of
The "Behind the Lens" Award was created in 2002 by DaimlerChrysler to
recognize and celebrate the outstanding achievements of individuals who
work behind the scenes in the entertainment industry. Award recipients are
chosen by an advisory panel of entertainment professionals.
"This award celebrates the trailblazers that we don't often see, but whose
contributions are impacting practically every segment of the entertainment
industry," said Frank Fountain, Chrysler Group senior vice
president--Government Affairs and President of the DaimlerChrysler
Fountain compared the 'behind the lens' professionals to individuals
working in the automotive industry. "At DaimlerChrysler, we feel a real
closeness to the concept of this award because, as in film and television,
we are fortunate to have the contributions of so many incredibly talented
people - - engineers, accountants, production workers and so many more - -
whom the public rarely gets an opportunity to see."
During pre-taped acceptance remarks, Parks offered a message to filmmakers.
"I would like to say to the young directors and filmmakers -- you are doing
a great job and continue to do so, don't let anyone tell you different, no
matter their position in the studio. I did it my way and I've enjoyed
success that I can appreciate."
Parks, 90, boasts several "firsts" in his career. He was the first African
American to write, direct, and produce a film for a major motion picture
company. The film, The Learning Tree, was among 25 films placed on the
National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 1989. Parks' place in
film history was further solidified when he directed the hit movie Shaft in
Parks also published 12 books, including three autobiographies. He
composed orchestral music and film scores and wrote a ballet about Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. He was the first African-American photographer to
work at LIFE and Vogue magazines.
During the awards program, the audience viewed excerpts from the HBO
documentary "Half Past Autumn" about Parks' life and career. A live
celebrity panel followed featuring Richard Roundtree, Sheila Frazier, Art
Evans, Ernie Hudson and Roger E. Mosley. The actors discussed Parks'
influence on their individual careers as well as his impact on their
performances in films ranging from The Learning Tree to Shaft and Superfly.
Parks did not attend the ceremony due to his health. However, stage, film
and television actor Avery Brooks accepted the "Behind the Lens" award on
his behalf. Also, international recording artist Natalie Cole's musical
tribute to Parks - - "I'm Glad There Is You" - - brought the audience of
nearly 400 to its feet.
Chrysler Brand Sponsor NAACP Image Awards
In conjunction with the "Behind the Lens" Award ceremony, DaimlerChrysler
also sponsored the taping of the 34th Annual NAACP Image Awards that will
air Thursday, March 13, on the FOX network. The Image Awards honors
individuals who have contributed to the positive portrayal of African
Americans and other minorities in the entertainment industry.
For the past several years, DaimlerChrysler has been a major sponsor of the
Image Awards. However, this year marks the first time that the Chrysler
brand was named as a co-national sponsor. The event provided a platform to
showcase Chrysler products such as the Sebring, PT Cruiser and the all-new