Morgan Freeman. Photo by Rett Peek.
The night began with a red carpet entrance. Every man in a tuxedo or woman in formal evening wear who walked in the front door was greeted by dozens of digital flashes and television cameras panning to follow them.
After an interview on the second-floor balcony with a television crew, Freeman -- wearing a double-breasted black tuxedo sans tie, a gold hoop earring in his right ear and sunglasses -- descended to the lobby and paused briefly at the media corral for photos. An all-star lineup of Arkansas entertainers trailed behind him: Kris Allen, the reigning “American Idol” and Conway native, his hair is perfectly mussed, his shirt collar unbuttoned and his skinny black tie pre-loosened. Mary Steenburgen, the Oscar-winning actress who grew up in North Little Rock. Then Joey Lauren Adams, the actress best known for her roles in Kevin Smith movies like “Chasing Amy,” also from North Little Rock. Ray McKinnon, most recently of “The Blind Side,” and his wife, the actress Lisa Blount.
Plus, there's lots of interesting anecdotes about one of the night's honorees, author Charles Portis.