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Clint Eastwood, Terry Semel voice support for LACMA film program

February 18, 2010 | 10:54 am

Eastwood

Two movie-industry titans -- Clint Eastwood and Terry Semel -- have expressed their support for the film program at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, throwing their considerable name power behind the 40-year-old weekend screening series that had been scheduled to shut down.

Eastwood and Semel were at the museum Wednesday night for the premiere of the documentary "The Eastwood Factor." After the screening, Eastwood participated in a conversation with the film's director, the critic Richard Schickel, and spoke about LACMA's film program.

Last year, LACMA announced plans to end its weekend film repertory series because of declining audiences and budgetary reasons. A swift public backlash resulted in contributions that helped to extend the life of the program until June.

Since then, the museum has said it is looking to raise at least $5 million toward a revamped version of the repertory series.

Eastwood's appearance -- a red-carpet affair that brought together an eclectic mix of industry executives, museum-goers and movie buffs -- was geared around the release of a DVD box set of the star's films, but the subject of the museum's film program was a recurring theme of the evening.

"I want to thank everyone who came here to support LACMA," the two-time Oscar-winning director said to the audience at the museum's Bing Theater.  "I know they want to increase the film program here, and I think it's great."

Eastwood also hinted he is making a financial contribution to help keep LACMA's film program going. "I'm going to reach into my pocket too," he said.

In an interview after the screening, Semel, a former head at Warner Bros. and the current co-chairman of LACMA's board of trustees, shed light on how he would like to see the museum's film program evolve soon.

"What we're attempting to do is to have the art of film play a bigger role at the museum," Semel said. "We want to have more programs like the one we're having tonight."

Semel Semel said he personally is bringing in more directors and other film artists to speak at the museum. "Our goal is to give people the chance to talk to and interact with these directors," he said.

Semel said some of the past participants of the film series have made monetary contributions to the program.

As one of the heads of Warner Bros. for more than 20 years, Semel worked frequently with Eastwood and helped oversee production of many of his directorial efforts. 

Semel was elected  co-chairman of LACMA's board of trustees in June. He has served on the museum's board since 2006.

Also in attendance Wednesday were actor Morgan Freeman, an Oscar nominee this year for Eastwood's "Invictus," as well as current Warner Bros. heads Alan Horn and Barry Meyer.

Bob Daly, who served alongside Semel as the top brass at Warner Bros., was also on hand to honor Eastwood.

In January, Martin Scorsese expressed his support of LACMA's film program during a public conversation with the museum's director, Michael Govan. Scorsese wrote an open letter last year that was published in The Times in which he criticized LACMA's decision to end the screening series.

-- David Ng

Photo (top): Clint Eastwood poses Wednesday at LACMA. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press. Photo (bottom): (from left) Bob Daly, Terry Semel, Morgan Freeman, Eastwood, Barry Meyer and Alan Horn at LACMA on Wednesday. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

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