Malibu Film Society to honor Rob Reiner

The prolific filmmaker will receive the Malibu Filmmaker of the Year Award on Sunday, prior to the screening of his latest film, “Flipped.” Carl Reiner will speak before the screening.

By Melonie Magruder / Special to The Malibu Times

The Malibu Film Society will present its second annual Malibu Filmmaker of the Year Award to producer/writer/director/actor and political activist Rob Reiner this Sunday, honoring a 43-year career span that began with television’s “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” and continues with his most recent, critically acclaimed film, “Flipped.” The movie will be screened and a question-and-answer period will feature guest (and Reiner’s father) comedian and writer Carl Reiner.

Reiner first registered with the American cultural conscience in the role of Michael “Meathead” Stivic in “All in the Family,” one of television’s seminal situation comedies of the early ’70s. By 1984, he was directing a slew of popular films, beginning with the first “mock-umentary,” titled “This is Spinal Tap.” His films resonated with audiences and critics alike. “Stand by Me,” “The Princess Bride,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “Misery,” “A Few Good Men” and “The Bucket List” are just a few of Reiner’s hits, representing a body of work that encompasses coming-of-age stories, thrillers, romantic comedy and legal drama.

In an interview with The Malibu Times, Reiner discussed the forces that led him to directing, the types of scripts that attract him and the pressures of following in a famous father’s footsteps.

“I am attracted to stories that mirror the human experience,” Reiner said in his Castle Rock Entertainment office. “Love, sex, friendship and how it all gets mucked up. There are fewer of those smaller, realer [sic] films out there today. Studios don’t want movies like ‘Little Miss Sunshine.’ They want another ‘Avatar’ action film.”

Whether tent pole or art film, Reiner formed his love of entertainment by watching his father from an early age. The elder Reiner had worked as an actor on Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows,” before edging his way into skit writing alongside the likes of Mel Brooks, Neil Simon and Larry Gelbart.

“I was literally the kid with his face glued to the banisters, listening in to my dad and his writing partners,” Reiner said. “These brilliant people making everyone laugh like crazy! I felt enormous pressure to live up to my father.

“Dad told me a story that I don’t remember, but he does,” Reiner continued. “He said that when I was about eight or nine I came up to him and said, ‘Dad, I want to change my name.’ He said, ‘What? You don’t like Reiner?’ and I said, ‘No, I want to change my name to Carl.’”

Reiner might not have taken his father’s name, but he took on his work ethic and carefully studied what worked in comedy and what didn’t.

“Robbie would always come to rehearsals for ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show,’ along with his friend Albert Brooks,” the elder Reiner said. “He was always a very serious kid. He would sit there and just absorb everything we did. And it’s all come out in his film work. He’s one of the brightest people I know.”

Rob Reiner’s new film, “Flipped,” is a coming-of-age romantic comedy that picks up some of the teenage angst he explored in his 1986 Oscar-nominated film, “Stand By Me.”

“The young teenage years are a wonderful, painful, exciting time,” Reiner said. “It’s confusing dipping that toe into adulthood and, out of all these powerful feelings, come some amazing drama. You never have friends like you did when you were 12 and I think both these films reflect that.”

Reiner himself has three children, including a 12-year-old daughter, who he says is “the polar opposite” from raising boys.

“Girls are just more advanced than boys,” he said, echoing themes he explored in “When Harry Met Sally” as well as “Flipped.” “That’s throughout life. Women are always waiting for the men to catch up. Guys have to be dragged kicking and screaming into maturity. It’s not until a man falls in love that he allows himself to be raised to adulthood.”

For Reiner, eventual maturity meant a 10-year marriage to actress/producer Penny Marshall before finding his wife of 21 years, photographer Michele Singer. Along with her, he became active in children’s advocacy, forming a foundation that promotes early childhood development. He was instrumental in campaigning for the 1998 California Children and Families Initiative, which created First 5 California and is funded through a tax on tobacco products.

He chuckled when asked about rumors that he had considered a gubernatorial campaign.

“I thought about it for about a minute,” Reiner said. “But in 2006, I had a meeting with my family to see what they thought and I only polled 40 percent with the idea. I couldn’t even carry my own family, so that was it.”

For the moment, he is concentrating on developing new films and said he would love to take on a musical.

“I’d love to do ‘Next to Normal’ that’s currently running on Broadway,” Reiner said of the Pulitzer Prize-winner about a mother dealing with bipolar disorder.

“It’s about ordinary people, but set to music. It’s funny and dark and uplifting. You know, about real stuff.”

Malibu Film Society will screen “Flipped” Sunday, Oct. 24, with a cocktail reception at 6:30 p.m. Venue location is at the Malibu Screening Center, 24855 Pacific Coast Highway. More information and tickets can be purchased online at

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