Barrymore, a film produced by Steve Kalafer about the brilliant and tempestuous actor John Barrymore in the twilight of his career, will air on the PBS television series Great Performances on Friday, January 31.Barrymore had its world premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. Kalafer, a recipient of the President's Medal in 2008 and a longtime friend and supporter of the university, held a special screening on campus last year for the NJIT community that was attended by Trustee Elizabeth Garcia ’73, among others.
The film is an adaptation of William Luce’s 1997 play on Broadway, which imagines the actor during the final months of his life as he prepares to recreate his acclaimed 1920 performance in Shakespeare’s Richard III and reflects on the highs and lows of a turbulent life and career that spanned the silent and sound eras. Barrymore is the brother of actors Lionel and Ethel Barrymore and the uncle of screen actress Drew Barrymore.
The title role is played by Christopher Plummer, the renowned stage and screen actor who won a Tony Award for his performance in the play Barrymore and was recently lauded by film reviewers for his tour-de-force turn in the film, creating what Betsy Sharkey, film critic for the Los Angeles Times, called “an exceptional performance piece.”
Barrymore was adapted and directed by Érik Canuel, and produced by Kalafer, Peter LeDonne, and Garth H. Drabinksy. It will be shown at 9 p.m. on Friday, January 31 on stations such as WNET, Channel 13.
Kalafer’s production companies Flemington Pictures and New Jersey Studios have to date garnered three Academy Award nominations for the animated short More (1998); the documentary Curtain Call (2000) produced with Peter LeDonne; and the feature film Sister Rose’s Passion (2004). The latter examined the accomplishments of the late Seton Hall University Professor Sister Rose Thering who dedicated her life to improving Jewish-Christian relations.
Kalafer, also an entrepreneur, is the chairman of the Flemington Car and Truck Country Family of Dealerships, the founder of the Somerset Patriots baseball team of Bridgewater, and a noted philanthropist.
Last year, on August 13, he was invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Yankees Stadium in recognition of his and his family’s philanthropic work with the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation, the Actors Fund of America, Somerset Medical Center Foundation, and many other community organizations. The non-profit charitable organization Actors Fund awarded him its Medal of Honor last year.