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Burt Reynolds Attends Vero Beach Wine & Film Festival

Vero Beach Wine + Film Festival honors Burt Reynolds.
Vero Beach Wine + Film Festival honors Burt Reynolds. (Photo: Taken from Dog Years movie)

VERO BEACH – The Vero Beach Wine & Film Festival honored Hollywood actor Burt Reynolds with the Life Worth Living Legend Award.

Sebastian Daily attended the Wine & Film Festival this year and participated in several movie screenings. Four stuck out, and one of them is called “Dog Years.”

Dog Years, written and directed by Adam Rifkin, is about an aging movie star invited to a film festival to accept a lifetime achievement award. Reynolds plays as the movie star and shares his life lessons during a road trip with his driver, played by Ariel Winter of “Modern Family.”

Rifkin appeared on stage with Reynolds at the Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach. When asked how it was working with Rifkin, Reynolds replied, “it was a wonderful experience working with him, and we had a good time.”

Rifkin also had his own story to tell about Reynolds.

“He was my hero growing up. He loomed larger than life during my entire upbringing. They say you should never meet your heroes, but whoever said that never met Burt Reynolds. Working with him was my life’s dream come true.”

When asked what it was like to work with Reynolds, Rifkin responded, “There’s a scene in the film, and this pretty much sums it up working with Burt … it’s the emotional core of the entire film, and Burt did the entire scene in one shot and one take,” Rifkin said.

As Rifkin got older and started making movies of his own, he had this crazy idea that if he wrote the film for Burt Reynolds, maybe he would do it. Rifkin said he wrote the script in a way that he felt Reynolds could connect with the role.

“I wrote the script, and we approached Burt, initially through his manager, and I said ‘tell Burt please, that if he doesn’t want to play this role, I’m not making this film.’ I only wrote it for Burt. And, the next day, I got a call from Burt Reynolds. My childhood hero.”

Reynolds told Rifkin that he was hoping for a great role to sink his teeth into, and then the script hit his desk. Reynolds agreed to do the script.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Rifkin.

Sebastian Daily staff meet Adam Rifkin. From left to right: Sherrenna Keeler, Pete Keeler, Paul Rifkin, Tina Hodges, and Andy Hodges.
Sebastian Daily staff meet Adam Rifkin. From left to right: Sherrenna Keeler, Pete Keeler, Paul Rifkin, Tina Hodges, and Andy Hodges.

The movie premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. “Dog Years” was received well at the Vero Beach Wine + Film Festival.

Rifkin recently helmed “Director’s Cut,” a twisted thriller penned by Penn Jillette. Rifkin also wrote and directed the critically acclaimed “Look and Detroit Rock City” and wrote the screenplays for the family friendly “Mousehunt,” and “Underdog and Small Soldiers.”

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About Andy Hodges
Andy Hodges was born in Annapolis, Maryland and raised in Jupiter, Florida. Andy has been a radio & TV personality since the 1980s. He has worked for WLIZ, WFLX-FOX 29, WIRK, WIXI, WKSY, WRMF, and WJNO to name a few. After spending 7 years in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1990s, Andy returned to Florida and settled in the small town of Sebastian in 2000. In 2005, he returned to the broadcasting news sector and eventually joined our news team in 2016 as editor in chief. Andy's family has lived in Sebastian for more than 45 years.