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Matt Damon honored Recap

Enlarge image Enlarge By Dan Steinberg, AP
Industry heavyweights such as Robin Williams and Clint Eastwood turned Matt Damon's honor from American Cinematheque into more of a roast than an earnest tribute, and a lot will have to be bleeped out when it airs later on ABC.

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By Anthony Breznican, USA TODAY
If age 39 seems a little young for Matt Damon to receive a lifetime achievement award, don't worry — they came to bury The Bourne Identity star, not to praise him.

Robin Williams, George Clooney, Clint Eastwood, Ben Affleck, and late-night host Jimmy Kimmel transformed the honor from American Cinematheque into more of a roast than an earnest tribute. A lot will have to be bleeped out when it all airs later on ABC (the date hasn't yet been specified.).

Kimmel has a long-running joke-feud with Damon, who has gamely shown up on his program to throw tantrums, spoof the Bourne movies, and sing a duet with Kimmel's then-girlfriend, Sarah Silverman, to boast about their illicit love affair.

The war continued Saturday night as Kimmel opened the presentation in the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton. "This is ridiculous, right? He's not even 40!" Kimmel said. "We're giving the salute to someone in his 30s! Next year, let's give it to Vanessa Hudgens."

In addition to the 21-year-old Disney starlet, Kimmel suggested that American Cinematheque — a group dedicated to showcasing classic films — give the prize to Clyde the orangutan from the Clint Eastwood comedy Any Which Way But Loose.

"I happen to know that Clint Eastwood did not get this award," Kimmel said. "Are you telling me Matt Damon is better than Clint Eastwood? Not even close! Even in the movies with the monkey, Clint was better."

Past recipients of the award actually include Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Steve Martin, Jodie Foster, Nicole Kidman, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Williams, who got the American Cinematheque award in 1988, was a little more earnest. He won an Academy Award playing the therapist for Damon's troubled genius in Good Will Hunting. "Thank you for that Oscar moment," Williams said, hesitating before adding: "It didn't get me a lot of work after that … but thank you."

Good Will Hunting also earned Damon and Affleck a screenwriting Oscar, though the then-struggling actors had only penned the movie to given themselves some juicy roles to play. Affleck's brother, Casey, who had a small role in the film too, joked that it was more evidence of Damon's megalomania.

Sighing repeatedly, Affleck noted: "This was the movie you co-wrote for yourself, uh … to play a young man who is smarter than everyone, and tougher than everyone … Even though he had a worse childhood than everyone … Who also gets the girl … and who also has highlights in his hair."

Charlize Theron, who co-starred with Damon and Will Smith in 2000'sThe Legend of Bagger Vance, pointed out that it was "the only Will Smith movie that didn't make, like, a gajillion dollars. Later, I was reunited with Will Smith in Hancock — which did great! So … it must've been you, Matt."

Clooney sent a video tribute, saying he was too busy getting a prostate exam to attend. He wore a hospital grown and an uncomfortable smile as he winced and shuddered his way through kind words, while a "doctor" just below camera went through with the check-up.

Some barbs were more pointed. Greg Kinnear, who played Damon's conjoined twin brother in the comedy Stuck on You, which did poorly at the box office, also co-starred with him in the recent Iraq war drama Green Zone, which also flopped. "We seem to have the uncanny ability to make movies about topics that audiences find irresistible," Kinnear said, joking: "We are now in pre-production on a three-and-a-half hour psychological drama about health care."

Eastwood, who directed Damon to a supporting actor nomination in the South African civil rights drama Invictus, and is currently making a drama with him called Hereafter, took the stage and seemed to change the evening to a more reverent tone.

"Matt Damon is one of the finest and most versatile young actors working out there today," Eastwood said gravely, before adding: "The reason I know that is, when he came to my office to talk about Invictus, he said: 'Clint, you know, I'm one of the finest and most versatile young actors … '"

Eastwood also joked that Damon told him: "'I don't understand why Morgan Freeman is going to play Mandela. I should play Mandela!'"

In addition to being mocked by his friends, Damon also seemed fond of mocking himself. The presentation was filled not just with his movie roles, but numerous clips from The Jimmy Kimmel Show, spoofing himself as an uptight diva; and HBO's Entourage, playing himself as an enraged, weepy would-be philanthropist.

The award was finally given to him by lifelong friend Ben Affleck, whose wife, Jennifer Garner, described Damon as "my darling husband's darling husband."

Affleck appeared comically disheveled and distressed at his friend's success. "All right …YEAH! Matt Damon! Lifetime achievement award … (expletive)," Affleck muttered. "As you may have noticed, if you weren't sleeping through the last four hours of clips, I kinda started out at the same time as the guy. So …" he added sarcastically, "this is a special night for me, too."

Damon responded by making Affleck hold the trophy beside him while he read his acceptance speech — firing back at everyone who had just mocked him, with one exception: "I'm not going to (expletive) with Clint Eastwood."

"Ben, my hetero-lifemate," he said. "You're my best friend, and there's nobody in the business I hold in higher regard. I can honestly say that next year, at this time, Ben could be here … presenting this award to someone else."

Damon added: "I hear there's a lot of buzz about Vanessa Hudgens."

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