Friday, March 8, 1996 | 11:59 a.m.
LAS VEGAS -- John Travolta and Sandra Bullock lived up to their new acting titles as they performed a series of stunts and quick-witted jokes here that left everyone laughing and little room for solemnity.
The "comeback kid" and the "girl-next-door" couldn't wait to begin their charade prior to receiving awards Thursday for Male and Female Star of the Year. The two started off the night by poking their heads through a curtain seam during a fellow honoree's introduction, and ended the news conference by hugging and hamming it up for eager photographers.
"I did live next door to some people, but a lot of people won't admit it -- my friends and parents might," Bullock said when asked about the description many in the movie industry have bestowed upon her.
She quipped that her greatest hope in future movies was to wear more than just one dress, as she did in "Speed," an action thriller about a daylong nightmarish bus ride.
The National Association of Theater Owners finished its weeklong convention late Thursday with an awards banquet honoring several people in the film industry. The NATO/ShoWest convention is an annual event for the motion picture industry.
Travolta, who jumpstarted his career with the blockbusters "Pulp Fiction" and "Get Shorty," earned his share of guffaws when he asked a fellow award recipient to respond to a question about those in the industry who ignored him during his hiatus.
"Well, why don't you answer that?" he chided James G. Robinson, who was named Producer of the Year for his hit "Ace Ventura."
"I was waiting for the right moment," Robinson retorted.
Mel Gibson, who won Director of the Year for his film "Braveheart," said that while he slept very little during the film's production and considered that time a "miserable existence," he looks forward to doing a sequel.
Asked to give newcomer Jonathan Taylor Thomas advice on his career, Gibson replied: "Sell your image to the computer animation people and sit home and drink beer."
Jonathan, 14, was named the Young Star of the Year. He is known for his role on the TV series "Home Improvement" and the films "Tom and Huck," and "Man of the House."
Greg Kinnear was named the Male Star of Tomorrow, and Cameron Diaz, who starred in "The Mask" was honored as the Female Star of Tomorrow.
Edward Burns, the writer-actor-director of "The Brothers McMullen," was named Screenwriter of the Year. Although the film was made on a bare bones budget with unknown actors, it grossed more than $10.2 million domestically.
John Lasseter, the Oscar-winning director of the computer-animated hit "Toy Story," received the Outstanding Achievement Award. The film has been predicted as the top-grossing release of 1995 and has earned more than $177.3 million since its Nov. 22 release.