By MCN Editor


For Immediate Release:

Monday, November 21, 2011



Witherspoon to Receive “Gene Siskel Film Center Renaissance Award,” and Participate in Insightful Discussion with Special Guest to Be Announced

Chicago — The Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) proudly presents “A Summer Evening with Reese Witherspoon” for its annual benefit in honor of Academy Award-winning actress Reese Witherspoon on Saturday, June 23, from 6 to 10 p.m. at The Ritz-Carlton (160 E. Pearson Street). Witherspoon will attend and engage in a discussion led by a special guest host to be announced at a later date. Tickets are on sale now, available by calling (312) 846-2072. Prices start at $400 for a single ticket and $5,000 for a table.

A highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the “Gene Siskel Film Center Renaissance Award” to Witherspoon by SAIC President Dr. Walter E. Massey.

“It is a privilege to honor Witherspoon with the Gene Siskel Film Center’s annual award,” said Jean de St. Aubin, Executive Director, Gene Siskel Film Center of the SAIC. “Her wide range of performances have won the hearts of many, including her unforgettable roles as Tracy Flick in ‘Election,’ Elle Woods in ‘Legally Blonde,’ and her Oscar-winning portrayal of June Carter Cash in ‘Walk the Line.’ We are also excited to talk with her about this year’s release ‘Water for Elephants’ and ‘This Means War’ which will be coming out in February.’ ”

The evening begins at 6 p.m. with a reception. Dinner will be served at 7 p.m., followed by the evening’s program. The discussion with Witherspoon and a special guest will feature film clips from Witherspoon’s career. At the conclusion of the program, Massey will present Witherspoon with the “Gene Siskel Film Center Renaissance Award.”

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to present Ms. Witherspoon with this award,” said Massey. “She is truly a renaissance woman, and as such embodies the interdisciplinary focus of both the Film Center and SAIC. She is a perfect recipient for this award.”

R.S. Owens, creator of the Oscar statuette, will design an award specifically for “A Summer Evening with Reese Witherspoon.”

Suggested attire for the evening is Cocktail Glam. Limited valet parking is available.

Proceeds from “A Summer Evening with Reese Witherspoon” will support the Gene Siskel Film Center’s presentations as well as lecture series and discussions with visiting scholars and filmmakers that provide the opportunity for students and the Chicago community to experience the best in film presentation. The annual fundraiser is the primary event that ensures that the Gene Siskel Film Center can continue to present the highest quality films and film-related events in Chicago.


Versatile actress Reese Witherspoon has been in the film industry for two decades with over 30 movies, having worked in a variety of genres. At home in classic and contemporary roles, Witherspoon has starred in Pleasantville, Election, and American Psycho, received worldwide attention with box office hits Legally Blonde and Sweet Home Alabama, and became legendary when she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Lead Role for her unforgettable performance as June Carter Cash in Walk the Line. She will next be seen alongside Tom Hardy and Chris Pine in This Means War. Witherspoon is also a producer and has her own production company Type A Films whose titles include Legally Blonde 2, Four Christmases, and Penelope. Witherspoon is actively involved with a number of charitable organizations, including serving as Avon’s Global Ambassador and Honorary Chairman of the Avon Foundation for Women which focuses on Women’s Empowerment, as well as a supporter of the International Violence Against Women’s Act, the Rape Treatment Center at the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center, and Save the Children. She is currently on the board of the Children’s Defense Fund for which she and 13 women opened the first “Freedom School” in her native New Orleans.


The Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago proudly presents “A Summer Evening with Reese Witherspoon” in honor of the Academy Award® winning actor Reese Witherspoon. The evening features a reception followed by an elegant dinner. Witherspoon will then have a discussion with a special, yet-unannounced guest, and the discussion will feature film clips from her career. The evening concludes with the presentation of the “Gene Siskel Film Center Renaissance Award” to Witherspoon by SAIC President Walter Massey. Saturday, June 23 at 6 p.m., The Ritz-Carlton, 160 E. Pearson Street. Single tickets range in price from $400 to $1,000 (VIP).  Table sponsorships range in price from $5,000 to $50,000; call (312) 846-2072 for tickets, tables or more information.


For close to 40 years, The Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago has presented independent and international cinema, film festivals, cutting edge programs, premieres, retrospectives and classic films. Recognized internationally for its original film programming, the Film Center annually presents approximately 1,500 screenings and 100 guest artist appearances to more than 80,000 film enthusiasts at its unique, sophisticated, modern facilities at 164 N. State Street. For more information, please visit

The Gene Siskel Film Center is a public program of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


A leader in educating artists, designers, and scholars since 1866, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) offers nationally accredited undergraduate, graduate, and post-baccalaureate programs to nearly 3,200 students from around the globe. Located in the heart of Chicago, SAIC has an educational philosophy built upon an interdisciplinary approach to art and design, giving students unparalleled opportunities to develop their creative and critical abilities, while working with renowned faculty who include many of the leading practitioners in their fields. SAIC’s resources include the Art Institute of Chicago and its new Modern Wing; numerous special collections and programming venues provide students with exceptional exhibitions, screenings, lectures, and performances. For more information, please visit

The Gene Siskel Film Center and SAIC are part of The Art Institute of Chicago. For more information about the Art Institute please visit

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  1. I am APPALLED! says:

    I am disappointed and appalled in the selection of Witherspoon for this honor. I have been a big contributor to the Art Institute but will no longer contribute. I will also make sure that my colleagues who have donated time and money never make another contribution to the Art Institute.

    You also have “padded” or did not do your research on her up bringing and organizations she “says” she is involved with.

    It is truly unfortunate that you have stooped to this level when there are people much more worthy of this in your own backyard.

    Good luck getting $400 a head and $5000 to $50,000 a table!

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon