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In the space of a two-and-a-half minute trailer for his 2006 film “Night in the Museum,” actor Ben Stiller contends with an agitated T-Rex skeleton, a belching sea beast, a flaming projectile launched from a diorama catapult, and a horde of rampaging Huns.
But will he be able to deal with the barbs offered up by Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals?
The world will soon find out. Stiller will receive the Hasty Pudding’s Man of the Year (MOY) award for 2007, the group announced today. He and his female counterpart, Woman of the Year (WOY) Scarlett Johansson, will be feted with roasts on successive weekends this February, as the student theatrical group presses on toward the premiere of its 159th original production, “The Tent Commandments.”
The official qualification for the annual MOY/WOY award is a “lasting and impressive contribution to the world of entertainment,” according to the Hasty Pudding’s website. But there are additional considerations, said Joshua E. Lachter ’09, the organization’s manager for press and publicity.
"We try to select people who we think would most enjoy the experience and we would most enjoy having—people who we think would be good sports and be fun and interesting," said Lachter, who is also a Crimson business editor.
Awards manager Morgan A. Kruger ’07 noted Johansson’s youth and Stiller’s tremendous comedic popularity as key selling points.
“This year in particular we were looking for people who were very young and current and would be significant on campus,” she said.
Stiller is best known for his roles in such hits as “Meet the Parents” (2000), “Zoolander” (2001), and “Dodgeball” (2004)—movies in which he starred as a hapless fiancée, an ego-stricken supermodel, and a fat man turned fitness guru, respectively. His most recent film, “Night in the Museum,” has grossed almost $210 million in the five weeks since its release.
The 22-year-old Johansson, meanwhile, has already made a name for herself with the popular 2003 film “Lost in Translation,” as well as the more recent “Match Point” (2005) and “The Black Dahlia” (2006).
“Scarlett Johansson’s career is a little bit shorter than Stiller’s,” said Lachter. “But in a short period of time she has just exploded to be a fantastic leading lady…she has been getting a lot of critical acclaim."
Because of the history of the awards—the WOY was established in 1951, the MOY in 1963—and the caliber of those who have received it in the past, including Katharine Hepburn, Halle Berry, Tom Cruise, and Tom Hanks, enticing honorees to Cambridge is “not actually as hard as you might think,” Kruger said. Both Johansson and Stiller will, of course, be on hand to receive the storied Pudding Pot in recognition of their respective honors.
Johansson will be the first to receive her award. The Woman of the Year will be welcomed to the Harvard campus on February 15. Following her participation in the traditional Woman of the Year parade, she will be subjected to a roast and then allowed to see a preview of this year’s Hasty Pudding production.
Stiller will be hosted on February 23. His roast will follow a walkthrough of Harvard Yard and precede the premiere of the production, which will run for three weeks in Cambridge before proceeding to do a weekend showing in New York and another in Bermuda.
“The Tent Commandments” is a tale of a late-19th century struggle for survival between a circus and a sideshow, punctuated by undertones that—according to a Hasty Pudding press release—include “forbidden love and deception.”
—Staff writer Christian B. Flow can be reached at email@example.com.
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