MFS Inaugurates Celebrity ‘Guest Presenter Series’

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Clockwise, from top left: Dan Aykroyd, Carol Burnett, Paul Reiser and Billy Crystal

Dan Aykroyd, Carol Burnett, Billy Crystal and Paul Reiser have all confirmed to host and discuss their favorite movies during Malibu Film Society’s first-ever “Guest Presenter Series,” which is scheduled to run every other Thursday evening from March 17 to April 28 at 7 p.m.

Aykroyd, an actor/comedian best known for his performances on “Saturday Night Live” as well as in movies like “The Blues Brothers “ and “Ghostbusters,” opens the series on Thursday, March 17 with a screening of his favorite movie, 1958’s Oscar-winning “Sayonara.” 

The film, with an ensemble cast that includes Marlon Brando, Red Buttons, James Garner and Ricardo Montalban, is about U.S. Air Force personnel stationed in Japan after WWII, and the issue of marriages between servicemen and Japanese women.

On March 31, Burnett hosts “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952), the classic movie starring Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, which critic Roger Ebert called “the greatest Hollywood musical ever made.” The film, which has been restored to high-definition, is a spoof about a film company in the late 1920s trying to transition from silent movies to “talkies.” 

Burnett, an American icon who’s now 82, starred in her own “Carol Burnett Show” TV series from 1967-78, a variety show that featured comedy, songs and sketches from her comedy troupe. She was also in numerous other TV shows, as well as a Broadway star in a career that spanned decades.

On April 14, Crystal will talk to the MFS audience about a film he wrote, produced and starred in: “Mr. Saturday Night” (1992). The film chronicles the rise and fall of the career of stand-up comedian Buddy Young, Jr. The tag line reads, “He loved his family, he loved his friends, but he loved his audience even more.”

Crystal began his career as both a stand-up and improv comic. He got his first big acting gig on TV’s “Soap” in 1977, became a regular guest on “Saturday Night Live,” starred in numerous feature-length films — including “When Harry met Sally” (1989) and “City Slickers” (1991) — started the Comic Relief fundraiser and hosted the Academy Awards nine times between 1990 and 2012.

The “Guest Presenter Series” concludes on April 28 with comedian/actor/writer/musician Reiser who will discuss his favorite movie, “The In-Laws” (1979). The action-comedy film stars Alan Arkin and Peter Falk, playing characters whose daughter and son are about to marry. 

Reiser started his career as a stand-up comic, got his first big acting role in “Diner” (1982), followed by roles in both “Beverly Hills Cops” movies and “Aliens” (1986). He co-starred in TV’s “My Two Dads,” and co-created and starred in the hit sitcom “Mad About You” (1992-1999). Since then, he’s been in numerous films and TV shows, written and recorded music, and written three books.

The idea for the “Guest Presenter Series” originated with Reiser, whose wife, Paula Ravets, serves on the board of MFS. Reiser, who appeared at MFS as a guest speaker following the 30th anniversary screening of “Diner” several years ago, said he was genuinely surprised by how much fun he had.

“It’s a great environment — very casual, intimate and low-key — with tremendous respect for the artists,” Reiser said.

Founded seven years ago, MFS now screens more than 50 films per year, including dozens of Oscar contenders during its annual “Awards Season Screening Series,” which runs from October to February.  

Other notable guest speakers hosted by MFS have included filmmakers James Cameron, Norman Jewison, and Rob and Carl Reiner; actors Benicio del Toro, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner and Jennifer Aniston; studio heads Kathleen Kennedy and Arnon Milchan; and many other industry professionals.

All “Guest Presenter Series” screening events will take place at the Malibu Screening Room in the Malibu Jewish Center complex, located at 24855 Pacific Coast Highway.

For reservations and ticket information, go to malibufilmsociety.org.