September 8, 2009 | 4:18 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
A late addition to the three-way race to become the next president of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation might be a former exec at the William Morris Agency.
Two sources confirmed to The Jewish Journal that Irv Weintraub, WMA’s former Chief Operating Officer, is Number 4 on the short list to replace John Fishel.
“He has industry connections,” said someone familiar with the process. “He ran a big corporation, and he’s been very involved in Federation as a lay leader.”
This past June, Weintraub left William Morris in the wake of its merger with Endeavor.
Prior to that, in an interview with The Journal’s Danielle Berrin, Weintraub discussed his own views of Hollywood, the Jewish community and Israel:
JJ: What does it actually mean to be a Jew in Hollywood?
IW: When I have reached out to people in the Jewish community in Hollywood and talked to them about Jewish causes, they’ve been very receptive. If you were to look at the giving record in [The Jewish] Federation, you would not see some of the most prominent Jews in Hollywood on the list of the most prominent temples today like you did 30 and 40 years ago. I think there are myriad causes that people feel are very important today and may not have existed then.
JJ: Why do you think Hollywood is less inclined to ‘give Jewish’ nowadays?
IW: We have one thing that’s not happening now that happened then, which was the memory of the Holocaust. We are 50-plus years removed. The urgency that existed then doesn’t exist today. The Federation campaign did better with Lou Wasserman—people didn’t tell him no. There isn’t that iconic person like Lou who is willing to be identified publicly with their Judaism.
JJ: How would you characterize Hollywood’s attitude toward Israel?
IW: There are many in Hollywood who don’t want to be identified with the complexities that surround the state of Israel. It’s more difficult for them to say ‘I support what Israel is doing,’ if you look at press that’s come around with regard to the Palestinian situation.
JJ: Why doesn’t it bother you?
IW: I have a better understanding of what’s going on. I think the portrayal at times—in papers in the U.S. and around the world—can be viewed as anti-Semitic. Only with knowledge can you respond to that.
Weintraub is a Wexner Fellow who also became an active supporter of Aipac, attending the group’s national conference in June in Washington D.C.
“The ability to go on the hill and sit with a member of Congress and either thank them for what they do with support for American-Israel relations or, more importantly, meet someone who’s uninformed and help educate them on the issues—that’s a very powerful thing, and to be able to do that as an ordinary citizen is very special,” Weintraub to The Journal at the time.
While one source familiar with the selection process said Weintraub “put his name” into the search process later than other candidates and said it was “too late” for serious consideration, another source said he was still “an interesting possibility.”
For more stories on Irv Weintraub:
William Morris Endeavor ousting some of its top Jews
Is Larry David upset about the William Morris-Endeavor merger?
Why do people think Jews run Hollywood?
Q&A with showbiz power broker Irv Weintraub: Why doesn’t Hollywood give Jewish?
Big AIPAC turnout signals newfound voice for Angelenos
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