UCLA auditorium named for Bridges

Winger, Lansbury, Larson to attend rechristening

An auditorium named after the late director/writer James Bridges will be dedicated Thursday on UCLA’s Westwood campus.

At the event, Debra Winger — who starred in the Bridges-helmed “Urban Cowboy” (1980) and “Mike’s Murder” (1984) — will discuss her work with him.

Also slated to attend the dedication are Angela Lansbury and Jack Larson, who played Jimmy Olsen in the 1950’s TV series “Superman” and co-produced a number of Bridges’ films. The event will conclude with a screening of “Mike’s Murder.”

Generous donation

The 270-seat theater, previously named after William Melnitz, a founding faculty member of the School of Theater, Film & Television, was rechristened after the Bridges-Larson Foundation gave $500,000 toward renovation of the building in 1997.

The donation attracted additional support for the project from the Cecil B. deMille Foundation, Everett Kovler, and the Blum-Kovler Foundation.

Bridges, who was 63 when he died in 1993, was an actor as well as a director and screenwriter, scripting all the features he directed. After his debut, “The Baby Maker” (1970), Bridges went on to create a series of unique, often controversial films, such as “The Paper Chase” (1973) and the television series of the same name; “September 30, 1955” (1977), which referred to the day James Dean died; “The China Syndrome” (1979); “Perfect” (1985); and “Bright Lights, Big City” (1988).

After Bridges’ death, the foundation — set up by Larson, a producer, writer and actor — established the James Bridges Award in Film Directing, which recognizes the UCLA film graduate student who best embodies the integration of film with the techniques of theater. The $25,000 award is given every year.