President Obama will introduce a USA Network screening of “To Kill a Mockingbird” on Saturday, marking the film’s 50th anniversary, but he’s also hosting a White House viewing of the movie on Thursday.
Mary Badman, who played Scout in the movie; Peck’s widow Veronique; Universal’s Ron Meyer; AFI trustee Howard Stringer and American Film Institute’s CEO Bob Gazzale will attend the event at the White House Family Theater in the East Wing of the White House. Also expected is Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
The American Film Institute is sponsoring the event with USA Network and Universal, and issued a statement from Harper Lee, the author of the novel who rarely issues public statements or grants interviews.
“I’m deeply honored that President Obama will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by introducing it to a national audience,” she said. “I believe it remains the best translation of a book to film ever made, and I’m proud to know that Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch lives on, in a world that needs him now more than ever.”
Thursday also marks what would have been Peck’s 96th birthday. He was founding chair of the AFI Board of Trustees from 1967 to 1969. He received the AFI’s Life Achievement Award in 1989.