"Among all of you, I'm a gefilte fish out of water," said Dick Cook, referring to his non-Jewish-sounding name. The Walt Disney Studios chair joked that Disney is the synagogue he most often attends, and instead of an eight-pronged menorah, there's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves greeting him at the entrance.
The creme de la creme of Hollywood executives spent a Thursday evening honoring Cook when he was presented with the Dorothy and Sherrill C. Corwin Human Relations Award at the American Jewish Committee's "A Celebration of Imagination" dinner Oct. 18. More than touting Cook's accomplishments though, the evening also became a celebration of moviemaking.
"People are probably more familiar with American movie stars than American politicians - and today that's probably a good thing," cracked Dan Glickman, Motion Picture Association of America chair, during the evening's keynote address. "Movies fill a yearning within each of us to change the world," he added, recounting a story that Nelson Mandela shared with Will Smith about how the imagery of Sidney Poitier slapping a white man in the film, "In the Heat of the Night," kept his spirit alive while in prison.
Glickman's words were moving but not scintillating enough for Jerry Bruckheimer, who only smiled (between yawns) when Disney Studios President Robert Iger quoted his film, "National Treasure." Iger then surprised Cook with a visit from an effervescent Mickey Mouse.
Also on hand were producers Joe Roth and Robert Zemeckis.
Citizens Curing Cancer
October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which saw special tributes to the many philanthropic and medical efforts channeled toward cancer prevention and cures.
Remarkable Dr. Patricia Ganz, director of cancer prevention and control research at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, was recognized by the American Cancer Society as the nation's foremost expert on breast cancer survivorship. Ganz's groundbreaking research in quality of life post-cancer treatment earned her the honor of being elected to the National Academy's Institute of Medicine. Ganz, who grew up in Beverly Hills and attended Harvard University, was one of only three women in her UCLA medical school class of 120.
Another intimate and emotional evening took place at the Art of the Brain's eighth annual gala at UCLA. News reporter Jason Barry -- son of the late actor-comedian Dave Barry (no relation to the Miami-based humorist), who died of brain cancer -- emceed the event, while String Theory entertained guests, creating music out of architectural installations of instruments.
Brain cancer survivor and event founder Judi Kaufman shared personal stories of her battle with brain cancer while presenting an award to Marlene and David Capell. "Marlene is a breast cancer survivor, and when I was diagnosed in 1997, my husband, Roy, and I asked the Capells how to get through the journey of brain cancer as lovers and friends," Kaufman told the crowd.
Dr. Richard M. Green, director of neuro-oncology at Kaiser Permanente of SoCal, was also honored with an award.