France’s Ministry of Culture gave a French toast to Variety’s Steven Gaydos on Thursday, naming him a chevalier/knight for his decades of work in entertainment.
Julie Duhaut-Bedos, consul general of France in Los Angeles, reminded the crowd that only a few such awards are handed out yearly, to “people who have distinguished themselves by their creations in the artistic or literary field or by the contribution they have made to the influence of arts and letters in France and in the world.”
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In the ceremony at the French Residence in Beverly Hills, Duhaut-Bedos rattled off multiple accomplishments of Gaydos, who is Variety’s exec VP of global content. She praised his “open-mindedness and advocacy for world cinema, which allowed Variety to achieve a successful international expansion and become the worldwide reference for entertainment industry reviews. Your involvement has been key to Variety’s successful international development. We are indebted to you for giving a platform to European voices.”
She also cited his screenplays (often penned with collaboration with Monte Hellman including 2010’s “Road to Nowhere”) and his championing of projects promoting the Cannes and Karlovy Vary film festivals and events like the Gallic Shoot the Book program.
The award is officially called Chevalier dans l’Ordre National des Arts et des Lettres, which means knight of the national order of arts & letters. France began bestowing the honor in 1957 but its roots stretch back to the ancient Ordre de Saint-Michel, the French dynastic order of chivalry, which began in the 15th century.
In accepting, Gaydos dedicated the evening to legendary French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, who died Sept. 6. He added that growing up in the steel-mill town of Fontana, Calif., didn’t prepare him for knighthood, so he saluted past recipients for inspiration, such as George Clooney, Tina Turner, William Burroughs, Ang Lee, David Bowie and Cate Blanchett. Life goals that Gaydos shared include “lifting spirits, celebrating common goals and dreams and bringing cultures together.”
Gaydos also singled out family members including wife Gina, daughters Rio and Natalia, and brothers Richard and Frank, who were in attendance.
Also in the crowd were Jay Penske, chairman-CEO of Variety parent PMC, and his wife, Elaine Irwin; Variety president-group publisher Michelle Sobrino; writer-producer Rene Balcer; actor Patrick Bauchau; producers Steve Stabler and Arthur Gorson; writer-director Norman Gerard; Native American gaming pro Victor Rocha; writers Vera Anderson and Paul Duran; and designer Ria Lewerke.
(Pictured: Steven Gaydos and Julie Duhaut-Bedos)
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