Legendary writer, director and producer Chris Columbus received the first ever Robin Williams Award for Excellence in Entertainment at a ceremony held at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco on Thursday, February 9. Zelda Williams, daughter of the late great entertainer who inspired the event, presented the award to Columbus after an emotional introduction to her father’s longtime friend and colleague.
Comic Will Durst hosted the event, which was attended by many Bay Area entertainment industry leaders as well as supporters of the movie business here, such as film buff and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. Brown shared his and Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom’s desire that more films be shot in San Francisco.
Columbus, who said that he moved here at the urging of his friend Williams, has worked hard over the years to do just that.
“Whether taking us to Hogwarts Academy for Wizards or to San Francisco’s Pacific Heights with Mrs. Doubtfire, Chris is truly the best of what San Francisco has to offer the film industry,” Jim McCullough, Founding President of the nonprofit Friends of the San Francisco Film Commission, said.
Columbus first came to international attention as a screenwriter with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, working on Gremlins (1984), The Goonies (1985) and Young Sherlock Holmes (1985). He wrote the first episodes of the animated series Galaxy High (1986) and later made his directorial debut with the teen comedy Adventures in Babysitting (1987) and Heartbreak Hotel (1988).
His directorial work includes Home Alone (1990), Only the Lonely (1991), Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Nine Months (1995), Stepmom (1998), Bicentennial Man (1999), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), Rent (2005), I Love You Beth Cooper (2009), Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010) and most recently Pixels (2015). He was the producer of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), the third film in the Harry Potter film series, and received an Academy Award nomination for producing The Help (2011).
Memorable clips from many of these films—with several great scenes featuring Williams included—were shown at the event.
Explaining how San Francisco can benefit when films are shot here, Brown said: “Aside from the obvious direct money spent to make movies in San Francisco, other areas that benefit include: employment, hotels, restaurants, rental cars, unions, rental equipment, tax revenue, etc. Long after a film is produced it still has residual impact, attracting tourists and continuing to inspire.”
For more information about Friends of the San Francisco Film Commission: http://www.friendsoffilmsf.org/