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Oscars 2002 Monday, 25 March, 2002, 11:41 GMT
Oscar-shy Allen's NY tribute
Woody Allen
Allen: "Panicked" when he got a call from the organisers
Woody Allen has created one of the biggest surprises of Oscar night by turning up at the ceremony for the first time.

Allen has never accepted an invitation to Hollywood's biggest night, despite having two Oscars and 20 nominations to his name.

He finally put in appearance at 2002's event in order to lead tributes to his native city New York.

The events of 11 September and the chance to pay tribute to New York's resilience - as well as the city's leading role in movie history - persuaded Allen to make the trip to LA.

New York
New York: Allen showed a sequence of clips featuring the city

He introduced a special sequence of clips from some of the most famous movies made in the Big Apple, put together by fellow New York director and writer Nora Ephron.

But first, Allen treated the audience to a typically witty speech.

After receiving a standing ovation, he said: "Thank you very much - that makes up for the strip search" - a reference to the tight security surrounding the ceremony.

Pawn shop

He also joked that he "panicked" when he got a call from the Oscars ceremony organisers four weeks ago.

"I thought they wanted their Oscars back," he joked. "I panicked because the pawn shop has been out of business for ages and I had no way of retrieving anything.

Hollywood Boulevard
The Oscars: Allen has always stayed away

"But that was not it and I couldn't work it out because my movie was not nominated for anything this year. Then it hit me - maybe they were calling to apologise."

Allen also joked that he half-suspected that he may be receiving the academy's humanitarian award, because he had given a homeless man 50 cents.

"I thought maybe certain members of the academy had witnessed this," he added.

But he Allen turned to the matter at hand by introducing the retrospective of clips from movies made and set in New York.

Classics

Allen disclosed why he had overlooked his lifelong Oscar-aversion.

"For New York City, I'd do anything. So I got my tux on and came down here," said Allen.

"It's a great, great movie town. It's been a great, moving and exciting backdrop for movies and it remains a great, great city."

The retrospective included clips of a wide range of classics and blockbusters.

They included 42nd Street, Saturday Night Fever, Taxi Driver, Fame, Ghostbusters and King Kong.

After Allen had left the stage he said: "I'm not a big awards person. I don't feel comfortable with... any kind of artistic competition.

"It was hard but I wanted to do something for New York.

"The opportunity was presented on a silver platter. New York has had such a tough time of it, there was no way to resist."

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24 Jan 02 | Entertainment
20 Mar 02 | Oscars 2002
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