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Oscar-winning producer returns to campus for reception, film screening

April 28, 2008

Legendary Hollywood producer and University of Wisconsin–Madison alumnus Walter Mirisch is responsible for some of the most enduring films of the last half-century, including "West Side Story," "Some Like It Hot," "Fiddler on the Roof" and "The Magnificent Seven." In his new autobiography, "I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History" (University of Wisconsin Press), he fondly recounts both his adventures in filmmaking and his years at UW–Madison.

On Friday, May 2, UW–Madison will welcome Mirisch back to campus with two special events. Both will take place in 4070 Vilas Hall, 821 University Ave.

At 3:30 p.m., the Department of Communication Arts and the UW Press will host a reception in Mirisch’s honor and present a short video of highlights from his career. Afterward, Mirisch will discuss his films and his new memoir with Tino Balio, professor emeritus of communication arts, and answer audience questions.

At 7:30 p.m., Mirisch will attend a Cinematheque "Tribute to Walter Mirisch," introducing an Academy restored print of his 1967 classic "In the Heat of the Night." The film, starring Sidney Poitier as a Philadelphia detective investigating a murder in a sleepy Southern town, won five Academy Awards, with Mirisch taking home the Oscar for Best Picture.

"Independent producer Walter Mirisch is undoubtedly a key figure in the history of Hollywood after the collapse of the studio system," says UW Cinematheque programmer Heather Heckman. "We are thrilled to bring ‘In the Heat of the Night’ to our audience — not just for its social significance, but also because it was Mr. Mirisch’s personal favorite."

All events are free and open to the public and are sponsored by the Department of Communication Arts, Cinematheque and the UW Press.

Tags: arts, events, film