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Eastwood, Mirren and others honor Morgan Freeman

CULVER CITY — Standing on the soundstage where Fred Astaire once danced and Dorothy skipped down the yellow brick road, Morgan Freeman accepted the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award.

Clint Eastwood, Sidney Poitier, Helen Mirren, Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Robbins and Forest Whitaker were among the stars who feted Freeman during a ceremony Thursday at Sony Studios, former home of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

The storied Stage 15 — which AFI Chair Sir Howard Stringer said was once graced by Astaire and Judy Garland in film — was transformed into an elegant ballroom, its walls draped in red and gold and dotted with giant framed photos of Freeman, whom Poitier introduced as "a prince of the craft of acting."

In a room filled with hundreds of his colleagues and friends, Freeman listened to star after star share what they admire about him and his work. The 74-year-old Oscar winner sat at the head table near the center of the room, beaming.

Jackson told the actor he was inspired by both Freeman's work and his words.


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