Nicolas Cage to be honored July 19
at Chicago Film Fest Summer Gala

Nicolas Cage will receive the career achievement award at the 39th Chicago International Film Festival.

Last year Clint Eastwood, accompanied by his extended family (present wife and assorted children) and entourage, was the recipient of the 39th Chicago International Film Festival’s Career Achievement Award, a.k.a., the Festival’s Summer Gala.

Nicolas Cage is this year’s honoree July 19 and no one is sure who will accompany him now that the Oscar winner is glaringly single after his recent divorce from Lisa Marie.

Columnist Liz Smith reported that Nic wants to take a sabbatical, even seek sanctuary somewhere remote, a haven where he wouldn’t have to talk to anybody. Intimates in his circle joke this could only mean a monastery. His new movie in release notwithstanding, we are gratified that Nic has accepted the honor and trust the local press will treat him kindly.

The SRO Summer Gala again takes place at Navy Pier’s Grand Ballroom. Bill Kurtis is the evening’s MC. The Hollywood saluters guest list is still under construction, so to speak, although Michael Kutza, the Festival’s indefatigable founder and artistic director said he hopes to bring in “a collection of stars and directors who have worked with Cage in the past.” Cher would be fun.

Among the possible attendees are Ridley Scott, director of “Matchstick Men,” Cage’s latest release; his uncle Francis Ford Coppola; “Moonstruck” director Norman Jewison, and Elizabeth Shue, Cage’s co-star in “Leaving Las Vegas,” the picture for which Cage received an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a clutch of Best Actor awards.

Cage, 39, is an L.A. native, the son of a college professor and dean, Francis’ brother, and a dancer/choreographer. Although he studied theatre at Beverly Hills High School, he dropped out at 17. Most of his bit part in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” in 1982 was cut. He got a job selling popcorn at a movie theatre, thinking that would be the only route to a movie career. But a job reading lines with auditioning actors for Uncle Francis’ “Rumble Fish” in ’83 landed him a small part in it. His big break came that same year when he was cast as the punk-rocker in “Valley Girl,” although 1997’s “Moonstruck” with Cher put him on the movie map.

Cage did return to school for a degree in theatre, film and TV from UCLA. He has appeared in 45 movies since 1981; has produced three; directed one; has one in preproduction, one announced, and one about to be released.

He was paid $240,000 for Oscar-winning “Leaving Las Vegas,” and $20 million for “Captain Correlli’s Mandolin” and “Gone in 60 Seconds,” both of which can be seen on pay-TV.

He told Jay Leno he took the name “Cage” from a comic book character named Luke Cage, the first black superhero. When Leno asked which super power he would prefer to have, Cage said flight was his desire.

Ticket price for the Gala’s cocktails, dinner and presentation is $300. To reserve, call Helen Mosely at 312/425-9400, ext. 100, or visit
-by Ruth L Ratny,