Jewish Journal

The Circuit

by Michael Aushenker

Posted on Dec. 13, 2001 at 7:00 pm

The ADL's Kodak Moment

It's only fitting that The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) held its annual dinner/dance gala at the brand new Kodak Theatre. After all, the brand new Hollywood and Highland complex is an architectural tribute to D.W. Griffith's 1916 movie epic "Intolerance" -- and intolerance is a theme the ADL knows all too well.

The nonprofit anti-bigotry watch group held its annual gala fundraiser overlooking a fantastic nocturnal view of Hollywood Boulevard that felt like a slice of art deco from Tinseltown's hey day -- celebrities, Grauman's Chinese Theater and lights wiping across the clear night sky.

Mike Medavoy and Eric Pleskow -- the producers behind such seminal Oscar-winners as "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest," "Rocky," "Annie Hall," "Amadeus," "Platoon," and "Dances With Wolves" -- were honored with the ADL's Fred Zinnemann Award for Excellence in Film. Medavoy, now the CEO of Phoenix Pictures, formed the now-defunct Orion Pictures with several other principals, including Pleskow.

Who better to present them with the award than a man who might be their television counterpart, Norman Lear, the creator behind groundbreaking socially-conscious sitcoms such as "All In The Family," "Maude," and "Good Times."

So when Medavoy an Pleskow produced their cinema classics, did they sense how embraced and enduring those films would be?

"You never really know until you're done," Medavoy said. "You just hope that in the end it's something the people will love."

Pleskow was elated to be honored by an organization such as the ADL.

"They've done yeoman's work in trying to fight bigotry," Pleskow said. "For all kinds of people, not only anti-Semitism."

M*A*S*H* creator Larry Gelbart received the William Paley Award fir Excellence in Television, named after the creator of CBS. Radio show producer-director Norman Corwin, who expanded on the importance of comedy and entertainment in our post-Sept. 11 world, presented Gelbart with his award.

Three emerging filmmakers -- Laura Bialis, Broderick Fox, and Sarah Levy -- were honored for work advocating tolerance with the Dore Schary Award, presented by actress/director Christine Lahti.

Over at table 84, The Circuit caught up with Gabrielle Schary, granddaughter of the award's late namesake, who ran RKO and MGM back in the day, and directed films such as "Bad Day at Black Rock." She remembered that her late grandfather was passionate about the ADL's cause and an ardent supporter of their mission for many years. After all, the organization jibed with the social-action messages of his own work.

"He made movies that challenge; that make people stop and think," said Schary, seated with her husband, Kent Schumaker.

Keynote speaker Dianne Feinstein delivered her speech via videotape, as she had to cancel at the last moment. However there was no shortage of exciting people in attendance, including dinner chair and Dreamworks founder Jeffrey Katzenberg; ADL National Chairman Glen Tobias; director Arthur Hiller ("Love Story"); Congressmen Paul Koretz and Brad Sherman; Consul General of Israel Yuval Rotem; ADL lay leaders Steve and Karen Gold; Dr, Alfred and Cecelia Katz; Joshua Kheel; Leona Goldring; Billy and Tootsie Veprin; George and Ruth Moss; Mel and Laura Guthman; Joseph Sherwood; and Ralph Tornberg.

The Searchers

Rabbi David Wolpe, Rabbi Steven Weil and Rabbi Steven Leder discussed "Searching for God in Today's World" at a University of Judaism panel moderated by the school's president, Dr. Robert Wexler. More than 300 young professionals attended the seminar. Photo by Peter Halmagyi

Making Music Together

Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (JRF) presented its Judith and Ira Eisenstein Award for Service to five candidates who have exhibited special devotion to music in the religious and cultural life of the community. The presentations were made at Kehillat Israel in Pacific Palisades.

Lorna Lembeck of Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue; Marilyn and Stewart Lonky of Kehillat Center and Synagogue; Alexander Green of Congregation Dor Hadash in San Diego; Shel Osman of Whittier Reconstructionist Havurah; and David Shore of University Synagogue of Irvine.

The awards ceremony included greetings from JRF National President Richard Haimowitz and a Reconstructionist Cantors Concert featuring Chayim Frenkel, Kehillat Israel; Marcelo Gindlin, Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue; Ruti Braier, University Synagogue; and Leon Natker, Congregation Dor Hadash.

Ain't It Cooley?

The Legal Division of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles held their first San Fernando Valley networking event at the Daily Grill in Encino. Scott Spindel served as event chair. Keynote speaker, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, discussed how current events are impacting the city.

Charles in Charge

B'nai B'rith International Banking and Finance and Real Estate Tribute honored Charles Cohen, president/CEO of Cohen Brothers Realty Corporation. Cohen, who received a humanitarian award at the Regent Beverly Wilshire event, is also the owner of the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood.

A Foundation For Renovation

The Jewish Community Foundation (JCF)contributed $17,500 to the cottage renovation project at The Brandeis-Bardin Institute. The cottages, originally built in 1960, house college students during Brandeis Collegiate Institute's summer sessions, and adults during Brandeis-Bardin's adult weekends. A plaque on one of the cottages acknowledges JCF's generous gift.

Group Study

Various community leaders gathered on Nov. 2 to honor Dr. David Ellenson, newly-elected president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. The reception and study session were sponsored by the Board of Rabbis of Southern California and The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

Genndy's Lab

"Dexter's Laboratory" creator Genndy Tartakovsky, recently profiled in The Journal, will adapt his new Cartoon Network series "Samurai Jack" into a live-action movie from New Line Cinema. Director Brett Ratner (the "Rush Hour" movies) scheduled to direct. Tartakovsky, 31, who as a child came to the United States as a Jewish emigrant from Russia, is currently working as an animation director on Warner Bros. upcoming feature-length "The Powerpuff Girls" cartoon.

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