The star-studded evening included tributes by James Caan, Carol Kane, Michael Douglas, Meg Ryan & Billy Crystal; at the end, the award was presented to Reiner by Martin Scorsese, who directed Reiner in “Wolf Of Wall Street”. There were also previously recorded video tributes by Morgan Freeman, Tom Cruise, Mandy Patinkin and Reiner’s father, Carl.
Presenters gave speeches in praise of Reiner, then introduced film clips from various movies Reiner was involved with, either as director or actor. Although references were made to Reiner’s years playing “Meathead” on the old television sit-com “All In The Family”, the evening contained no film clips from that show.
Among the highlights of the evening was when Billy Crystal joined Meg Ryan on stage as co-presenters to talk about making “When Harry Met Sally”; Crystal was his usual funny self and said that this was about as close to a sequel to “When Harry Met Sally” as we were going to get.
One of the funnier stories from the evening had to do with the infamous fake orgasm scene from “When Harry Met Sally”. Meg Ryan’s first few takes weren’t exactly what Reiner was looking for, so he sat at the table with Billy Crystal to demonstrate more of what he wanted (“I felt like I was on a date with Sebastian Cabot”, Crystal joked). In the end, Reiner was dying of embarrassment because his fake orgasm was witnessed by his mother, who was on the set for that scene (you may recall she was one of the restaurant customers who witnessed Ryan’s fake orgasm and reacted by saying the line, “I’ll have what she’s having!”).
Reiner’s career in show business was only part of the evening’s tribute. Also discussed was Reiner’s political activism throughout the years; he has a reputation for being quite sympathetic to liberal causes in the Hollywood community and has often contributed his own time and money to causes particularly meaningful to him – one of the more recent ones being marriage equality.
Michael McKean spoke about working with Reiner on “Spinal Tap” (the scene with the amps set to 11 was shown) while Carol Kane discussed her scenes with Billy Crystal in “Princess Bride” (she said that Reiner ruined the takes because he laughed so much at Crystal’s improvised jokes).
Michael Douglas talked about not only working on the Reiner-directed “American President”, but also acting with Reiner early in his career in a little known movie (“Summertree”, from which a clip was shown).
At the end, Martin Scorsese made a speech before presenting Reiner with his award. He revealed that he always secretly thought that Reiner was spoofing him when he appeared as the documentary director in “Spinal Tap”; basically, he believed Reiner was sending up Scorsese’s work on “The Last Waltz”, a documentary about the rock group The Band.
Finally, one negative note about the evening was the fact that Lincoln Center had abruptly changed the time of the event and I was almost late for the beginning; although the ticket showed a time of 8PM, they apparently had switched the start to 7PM. Fortunately, I got there early, but had just taken my seat about a minute after the ceremonies began.