The Billy Wilder Theater will be dedicated in the Hammer Museum Dec.3, and “Billy would have been mad as hell,” his widow Audrey Wilder laughingly tells me. But he feigned modesty effectively we recall and Audrey relented, admitting that Wilder would probably have loved the theater after all. Audrey put up the $5 million for the intimate, 300-seat theater.
Billy Wilder was 94 when he died on March 27, 2002. The Wilders had been married 54 years. The theater’s debut is Dec. 3 with friends Cameron Crowe (“Conversations with Wilder”), Curtis Hanson, Jerry and Ann Moss hosting.
Annette Bening and Warren Beatty — who did not make any films with Wilder — will m.c. the opening festivities. Audrey Wilder will speak briefly — and humorously, you can be sure. Tony Curtis (“Some Like It Hot”) has been invited to add some Wild-er stories. And a reel of clips of Billy Wilder films will be shown.
The theater, in conjunction with the UCLA Film and TV Archive, will offer a full range of film and video projection and sound and will be able to screen images in their original formats — from silent films dating to the 1880s to the most current digital cinema and video.
Modesty Becomes him
“I’m not an auteur,” Walter Mirisch told me when I offered congrats. He will be honored by the Museum of Modern Art, Department of Films with a program of films Dec.1-31. “It’s a singular recognition of what we did — so many people worked on all of these,” he told me
Among those to be shown are two by Billy Wilder, “The Apartment” and “Some Like It Hot.” Other Mirisch/Wilder films are: “Love In The Afternoon,” “One, Two , Three, ” “Irma La Douce, ” “The Fortune Cookie,” ” “Kiss Me Stupid,” “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes,” and “Avanti.” Of Wilder, Walter Mirisch says, “He was an extraordinary human being.”
Other films to be shown at N.Y.’s Museum of Modern Art tribute: the Oscar (five) winning “In The Heat Of The Night,” “West Side Story” (10 Oscars), “The Pink Panther,” “The Magnificent Seven” and The Great Escape.” Mirisch will be on hand for the bow of the Wilder Theater in the Hammer and told me, “He (Billy) would have com-plained about it (the name). But he would have loved it!”