The Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center was the scene for a very special Best of Brooklyn gala on May 6, honoring legendary filmmaker Paul Mazursky '51. The gala was hosted by another Brooklyn College graduate, master of ceremonies Joel Zwick '62, M.A. '68, a prolific television comedy director who also directs films, including 2002's My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time.
Mazursky, who had been honored with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame a few months before, was delighted to see video tributes from friends Mel Brooks, Leonard Nimoy, Sidney Poitier, casting director Juliet Taylor, and directors J.J. Abrams and Edward Zwick. The evening also featured a generous selection of clips from some of Mazursky’s best-loved films.
The highlights of the evening were the touching tributes delivered by two of Mazursky's favorite actors, Ellen Burstyn and Marsha Mason. For both women, Mazursky's crucial early support was life changing. Mason made a special mention of how well women were represented in Mazursky’s films, and said that many of her contemporaries thought that his 1978 film An Unmarried Woman could have easily been written and directed by a woman, so accurately did it reflect the circumstances and feelings of newly minted divorcées.
Mazursky himself was touched by the tribute. Bringing his wife, Betsy, on stage, the two received the Best of Brooklyn award from Brooklyn College President Karen L. Gould, a solid glass memento etched with the iconic image of the Coney Island Parachute Jump. The festivities over, the Mazurskys and the audience went upstairs to the Kaplan Penthouse for dinner and more conviviality with alumni, classmates and friends as well as a few Brooklyn College students, including some who have benefited from the Paul '51 and Betsy Mazursky Scholarship that supports financially disadvantaged students who are studying the arts, writing or directing.