Some of the after-dinner speakers took the word "tribute" literally and stuck to praise, although Meryl Streep, Michael Douglas, Danny De Vito, Dustin Hoffman and others got their digs in. "He's willing to go to great lengths to be in a good mood," said close pal Warren Beatty, who came with his own leading lady, Annette Bening, and his sister, Shirley MacLaine. "Farther than I will. And he's every bit as vain as I am."
Nicholson reveled as his peers roasted and toasted him, but actually got a tad teary-eyed when he spoke. He attributed his hoarse voice to laryngitis: "I've been yelling a lot this week."
The Joker is wild -- even in black tie. Jack Nicholson, blithe as always amid allegations of bashing a car window with his golf club, was being honored by the American Film Institute for his lifetime of acting achievements the other night in L.A. Instead of playing the grand thespian, he was more interested in confirming his reputation as a lothario. The 10 people at his table were all his leading ladies: Shelley Duvall, Mary Steenbergen, Louise Fletcher, Ellen Barkin, Kathleen Turner, Candice Bergen, Faye Dunaway, Madeline Stowe, Cher and his on-again flame, Rebecca Broussard. Ex-flame Anjelica Huston, with whom Nicholson will be starring in the upcoming "The Crossing Guard," was not present.