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Jewish Journal

The Circuit

by Gaby Wenig

October 16, 2003 | 8:00 pm

GO GRETCHEN GO!

A movie about the "big 3-0" and a good cause drew the famous and the wannabe famous to Club Ivar in Hollywood as "Gretchen Brettschneider Skirts Thirty" had its L.A. premiere on Sept. 28. The screening of the San Diego Film Festival Jury Prize-winner, written, produced and starring Annie Oelschlager, included a silent auction as a benefit for Sabrina, an 11-year-old Make-A-Wish child who wants to go to Hawaii. (The average cost of fulfilling a wish is $4,000.)

Among those who enjoyed the zany musical-comedy: "Less Than Perfect's" Eric Roberts and Zachary Levi; "Babylon 5's"Claudia Christian; "Gretchen" producer, director and co-star Corey Blake; and Mark Thompson of KLOS radio's "Mark and Brian," who emceed the event.

"Everyone at the Make-A-Wish Foundation is thrilled with the success that Elevation 9000 Films, Annie Oelschlager and 1421 Productions have achieved with their film," said Bart Verry, vice president and development director of Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Los Angeles. "Their hard work and dedication to their craft will now have the additional benefit of turning a wish into reality for a child with a life-threatening medical condition."

The evening took in $6,000 for Make-A-Wish. -- Shoshana Lewin, Contributing Writer

TEA TIME FOR JASON

"Seinfeld" alumnus and current star of "The Producers" Jason Alexander drank only tea when he joined Westside Jewish Community Center (WJCC) supporters on Sept. 13 at the Hancock Park home of WJCC advisory board member Helene Seifer and her husband, producer Gary Grossman. The fundraising party for the center was a pretheater reception for "Evening at 'The Producers'" and drew over 170 people.

The Westside JCC is still going strong, and despite recent financial difficulties is working on a $14 million capital campaign to finance a major renovation of its facilities. The center has 117 students enrolled in its nursery school and kindergarten, is entering into the fifth season of its "Celebrity Staged Play Readings" and is continuing its senior day care, in addition to keeping its sporting facilities open.

SUPER COOPER

Attorney Jay L. Cooper, chairman of the Greenberg-Traurig West Coast Entertainment Law Division, was named "Entertainment Lawyer of the Year" by the Beverly Hills Bar Association Entertainment Law Section at an dinner-dance celebration at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Sept. 18.

CHAMPIONS OF MIRAMAX

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society honored Miramax Films co-chairmen Bob and Harvey Weinstein on Sept. 25 at the 29th annual Dinner of Champions, held at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City. This year, the society will invest more than $30 million to support MS research, and more than $5 million is currently in place locally at UCLA, USC and the VA Medical Center.

BALLS AND BUCKS

Supporters of Cedars-Sinai Hospital took out their tennis whites and dusted off their rackets so they could participate in The Merchant of Tennis/Monty Hall/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center 31st Annual Diabetes Tennis Tournament on Sept. 12-14.

Jeff and Marie Green sponsored the tournament, which benefited diabetes patient care and research at Cedars. Hosted by Monty Hall, led by honorary chair Harold Foonberg and co-chaired by Elaine and Larry Baum, the tournament had matches played at the Mountain Gate Country Club and at the Playboy Mansion.

But Cedars cannot live on tennis tournaments alone. On Sept. 10, entrepreneur and philanthropist David Saperstein, CEO of Five S Capital, Ltd., and his wife Suzanne, made the largest donation to Cedars-Sinai in the medical center's history. Cedars is not saying how much the donation was, but they did announce construction of the Suzanne and David Saperstein Critical Care Tower, which will combine the latest monitoring technology with staffing to provide fragile patients with the most sophisticated care available. Construction on the tower is expected to begin this fall and will be completed in 2005.

"Our commitment to Cedars-Sinai is an important example of our philanthropic mission to nurture world-class organizations locally, nationally and internationally," said David Saperstein at a private celebration at Cedars hosted by the medical center's board of directors.

Cedars-Sinai board Chair Barbara Factor Bentley said that the Saperstein's donation "set a new standard for visionary philanthropy here at Cedars."

CULTURE VULTURES

The Los Angeles chapter of America Israel Cultural Foundation (AICF) held a concert and high tea event Sept. 21 at The Wilshire. The AICF is a privately funded organization that provides financial support for talented young Israelis and cultural institutions in Israel. At the event, cellist Dennis Karmazyn and pianist Beth Sussman presented a musical program of both chamber music and Broadway tunes.

SHALOM, STANLEY!

Best-selling author Stanley Pottinger was the special guest on Oct. 1 at Temple Shalom for the Arts's get-together for sustaining members at Morton's Restaurant. The Temple is a nondenominational congregation that is famous for its star-studded High Holiday services, which have featured the likes of Jason Alexander, Larry King and Leonard Maltin reading the prayers.

The sustaining members are congregants who pay a larger membership fee so that the congregation can, among other things, give free High Holiday tickets to people who can't afford them. For the past two years, Rabbi David Baron has been broadcasting a half-hour version of the services on television so that people who are ill or who can't make it to services will be able to still have some kind of a High Holiday experience.

"Entertainment Tonight" anchor Mary Hart was at the party as Baron introduced Pottinger to the crowd as one of his friends. Pottinger is not Jewish, but he is from New York, which he said makes him "partly Jewish by association." Pottinger signed copies of his newest book, "The Last Nazi," a thriller about Joseph Mengele's lab assistant who wants to unleash a deadly virus on the world that will kill all the Jews. Scary stuff indeed.

Pottinger told The Journal that while most of the actual Nazis from World War II were "dead, or gone, or toothless," the spirit of Nazism is unfortunately still around.

"In a direct way, the anti-Semitic sense of what propelled Nazism, is not a dead issue," Pottinger said. "Whether it is with the ignorant, pathetic skinheads who create small problems -- or big enough problems for us to notice -- or whether it is with a morphing of the spirit of anti-Semitism that comes in the form of haters of Jewish culture, or Jewish people, whether it is in the Middle East or here. It pre-existed the Nazis and it continues today."

KNOW YOUR FD

If your rabbi veers from his sermon this month to talk about genetics and diseases, it is probably because he is aware that October has been proclaimed Familial Dysautonomia (FD) Awareness Month. On the advice of the Cure FD Foundation, L.A. Mayor James Hahn teamed with leaders of the Jewish community, such as Federation President John Fishel; Rabbi Mark Diamond, vice president of the Board of Rabbis; and Rabbi Alan Henkin, director of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Southwest Region, to get the Los Angeles community to start thinking about FD.

FD is a Jewish genetic disease Jewish present from birth that is carried by one in 27 persons of Central or Eastern European Jewish descent; it is neurological, degenerative and fatal.

During FD Awareness Month, rabbis throughout the community will be presenting programs and materials to inform the community about FD, how to help fund the cure and how prospective parents can get tested for FD.

For more information about FD, call (310) 459-1056.

Canter's at 55

After 55 years in business on Fairfax Avenue, what better way for Canter's Deli to celebrate than offer a 55-cent corned beef sandwich?

Normally a whopping $8.25, the sandwich was served on rye with a scoop of potato salad and a chocolate chip rougala. The deli, still a family-run business, prepped for the event with 6,000 pounds of corned beef and extra staff. With lines out the door as early as 10 a.m. and no sign of it dwindling, Canter's had their hands full said Jacqueline Canter, granddaughter to the owners of the deli, Ben and Jenny Canter.

Earlier in the day, City Councilman Jack Weiss made an appearance to congratulate Canter's for being for 55 years in business on Fairfax. -- Leora Alhadeff, Contributing Writer.

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