September 26, 2008
Hollywood hot for Israel at Paramount gala; AJCongress honors human rights advocate
There were Hollywood stars and powerful studio heads, politicians, multinational rappers, Israeli Cabinet ministers, the Keshet Chaim dance ensemble, two-dozen Israeli Boy and Girl Scouts, a 3-D film segment, a tennis legend, professional and amateur comedians, resounding shofars, electronic fireworks and tables groaning with biblical fruits.
It was, in the view of Republican stalwart Larry Greenfield, an "eclectic" evening.
Last week's venue was the Paramount Studio, complete with red carpet, an array of TV news cameras, entertainment reporters thrusting microphones into the faces of the famous and not-so-famous and lovely ladies in designer dresses and an occasional tattoo.
Circuit might have missed a few of the celebrities in the crush, but we spotted Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, Kiefer Sutherland, U.S. Open champ Serena Williams, rapper Seal, Shaun Toub, studio chiefs Sumner Redstone and Terry Semel, music producer David Foster and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
We're talking, of course, about the celebration of Israel's 60th anniversary, under the banner of "From Vision to Reality," hosted by the Consulate General of Israel, represented by its top man, Yaakov Dayan, and the Citizens' Empowerment Center in Israel (CECI), represented by its founder, Izak Parvis Nazarian and his talented family.
Each of the 740 guests paid $1,000 to attend the festivities and to honor Israel-born Arnon Milchan, producer of some 120 movies, including "Pretty Woman," "L.A. Confidential" and "Mr. and Mrs. Smith."
Nazarian, who established CECI to promote democracy and voting rights among Israeli citizens and youth, took a back seat at the glittering evening, as did his daughter, Dora Kadisha, the chief organizer of the full, full program.
The lovely face of the family was Dina Kadisha, Dora's (and Neil's) daughter, who kept things rolling as mistress of ceremonies.
Israel was well represented by rapper Subliminal and such dignitaries as Education Minister Yuli Tamir, Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, former Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and, via video, Tzipi Livni, current foreign minister and potential prime minister.
Peter Chernin, president of News Corp, introduced and semiroasted the guest of honor and presented Milchan with the Legacy of Citizens Lifetime Achievement Award for his services to Israel and the film industry.
In an advance interview with The Journal (see story, page 33), Milchan said he anticipated a "surprise party." As it turned out, Milchan, a friend of the tennis-famed Williams family, provided his own surprise by calling Serena to the stage to share his own award with the champ.
Milchan used his response to voice some serious thoughts on the Middle East situation. "I am older than the State of Israel itself," he started. "First we had our neighbors throwing stones, then the stones became rockets and then they became missiles ... then we all got more toys and more people died.
"We are all hostages ... just imagine if we all helped each other. Maybe we can learn from Warren Beatty, who told me, 'Keep asking them, maybe one of the girls will say yes.'"
The evening ended late but on a high note with cast and guests belting out the popular Israeli song, "Yachad" (Together).
-- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
AJCongress Honors Human Rights Advocate
Tucked into the elegant dining room at the Four Seasons Hotel, 150 supporters of American Jewish Congress gathered to salute former Ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper with the Louis D. Brandeis Award for his work combating war crimes and fighting genocide on an international scale.
Currently an employee of Arent Fox LLP, Prosper was appointed U.S. ambassador by President Bush in 2001 and has an extensive history in high-level diplomacy. As a war crimes prosecutor for the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Prosper most notably influenced international law to formally recognize rape as an act of genocide. At the event in his honor, Rabbi Sharon Brous delivered the invocation followed with remarks by Larry Greenfield of the Republican Jewish Coalition and a representative from the office of Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks). Gary P. Ratner, executive director of AJCongress's Western Region, presented Prosper with the award.
(From left) Robert O'Brien of Arent Fox LLP; Gary P. Ratner, executive director of American Jewish Congress' Western Region; former Ambassdor Pierre-Richard Prosper; and Claude Alexandre, president of Opportunities Without Borders