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Jewish Journal

The Circuit

by Gaby Wenig

February 19, 2004 | 7:00 pm

Big Brothers Bash

Hollywood producer Mark Canton received the Sydney J. Rosenberg Lifetime Achievement Award at the Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters/Camp Max Straus 12th annual Dinner and Auction Gala on Jan. 24 at the Century Plaza Hotel.

Jewish Big Brothers/Big Sisters is an organization that provides mentors to underprivileged children, and special guest Mark Okyansky spoke about how he changed from a shy stutterer to a confident young adult thanks to the involvement of his Big Brother and the caring counselors that he met at Camp Max Straus.

Canton, who produced blockbusters like "Batman" and "Lethal Weapon," bought his friend and golf buddy, actor Dennis Hopper, to the event to be the master of ceremonies. Another one of Canton's pals who was in the crowd was actor Michael Keaton.

Leslie Cavanaugh and David Weissberg were the dinner's co-chairs, while comedian Sinbad was the auctioneer who simultaneously exhorted and shamed the crowd to bid high on great prizes, like two first-class tickets to London and a cruise to Portugal.

Between formalities, guests danced away to the music of West Coast Music's Durrell Coleman Band.

Hillel Yuks It Up

Once you've starred in any big, fat movie, the title follows you around for years to come.

Actress and comedian Lainie Kazan, who played the mother in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," was Hillel at Pierce and Valley College's honoree at Comedy Night 2004: Our Big Fat 40th Anniversary Celebration, which was held at Pierce's College's Main Theatre on Jan. 31. Kazan received the Woman of Valor Award for being a positive Jewish role model, her accomplishments and for her acts of lovingkindness.

Kazan was not the only funny person at the event -- other comedians on hand to keep the laughs coming, including

Wayne Federman, Robert Koch, Avi Liberman and Marla Schultz. Scott Blakeman came in from New York to serve as the master of ceremonies at the event

that attracted 400. Proceeds went to support Hillel programs at the

colleges, which reach 3,500-4,000 Jewish students.

Eyes on the Media

Itamar Marcus, the director of the Palestinian Media Watch, addressed a sellout crowd at the Museum of Tolerance on Feb. 2. Marcus, who was brought out to Los Angeles by StandWithUs, Hasbarah Fellowships, American Jewish Congress and the Museum of Tolerance, monitors and reports on the media of the Palestinian Authority. He shared footage of the Palestinian Authority television broadcasts indoctrinating children to aspire to be "martyrs," who kill themselves and others in suicide bombings.

Marcus was joined onstage by KABC talk show host, civil rights attorney and African American community leader Leo Terrel.

City of Hope's New Faces

City of Hope, the world-renowned research and treatment center for cancer, recently appointed Phillip L. Engel, the former president of Chicago-based CNA Insurance Companies, as the chair of their board of directors. The board of directors also added the new position of vice chair to support the new chair. Sheri Biller, the current chair of the board nominating committee, and Terry Peets, the current chair of the development and marketing committee on the board, were both named vice-chairs-elect.

And that's not the only new thing at City of Hope. At a Jan. 25 benefit for Tower Cancer Research Foundation at the Skirball Cultural Center -- emceed by Brad Garrett of "Everybody Loves Raymond" -- the research center announced a new affiliation with the foundation that will bring more clinical trials for cancer treatment to the Westside. Through the affiliation, Westside residents will now have easy access to the hundreds of cutting-edge clinical trials conducted by City of Hope.

Westside residents interested in clinical trials can call Tower Cancer Research Foundation at (310) 854-9269, or City of Hope at (800) 826-4673 for information.

Etta Does It Betta

The Etta Israel Center, an organization that helps youth and young adults who have special needs, held its 10th anniversary dinner at the Petersen Automotive Museum on Jan. 10. The event paid tribute to Aaron and Rickey Bloom, the founders of the center, and presented its first ever Educational Leadership Award to Richard Goldman.

Meier's Service

Congregation Beth Meier in Studio City honored its founder, Rabbi Meier Schimmel at a tribute brunch at Pat's Restaurant on Jan. 18, on the 70th anniversary of his rabbinic ordination. Schimmel was born in Frankfurt, Germany, and was ordained there in 1934. After serving as a rabbi for a time in London and as a chaplain in the American army during World War II, he and his late wife, Rochelle, came to Studio City and created Congregation Beth Meier, its first synagogue. Schimmel has served as a spiritual leader of the congregation for more than 45 years.

Go Guardians!

The Guardians of the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging, the well-known fundraising group dedicated to funding and preserving the home, held its leadership installation ceremony at the Regency Club in Westwood on Jan. 28.

Commercial attorney Bradley Mindlin of Sherman Oaks was installed as the new president, taking over from Robb Greenspan. Mindlin recited the pledge of allegiance with his daughter, J.T Mindlin, and her 8-year-old classmate, Ashley Grossblatt.

Among the 170 people crowded into the Regency Club were Los Angeles City Councilmen Alex Padilla and Jack Weiss, and former California Gov. Gray Davis, who said that he has been coming to Guardian meetings "every Tuesday night off and on since 1981."

At the installation, Mindlin challenged his fellow Guardians to raise more money for the Jewish Home and spend at least three to five hours a year visiting the Home's 800 residents.

"Our need is real," Mindlin said. "Every generation of Americans stands on the shoulders of preceding generations." -- David Finnigan, Contributing Writer

Give Me a Break

West Hollywood's Citrine restaurant hosted the Jan. 28 Los Angeles Press Club/Reason Magazine party for ABC News consumer reporter and "20/20" cohost John Stossel and his new book, "Give Me a Break." Guests at the party included KABC-AM's pro-Israel talk show star Larry Elder; Elle contributor Ruth Shalit; USC sociology and Jewish studies professor Barry Glassner and his wife, literary agent Betsy Amster; National Review Online columnist Cathy Seipp; author David Rensin; and former Los Angeles Times editor Debbie Gendel and her husband, TV writer Morgan Gendel. -- DF

Frank Talk

More than 6,000 people showed up the Universal Amphitheater to hear Gen. Tommy Franks give the first lecture of the University of Judaism's 2004 Public Lecture Series. Other speakers in this year's series include Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, Bill Maher, William Kristol and Tom Brokaw with Dee Dee Myers and Ari Fleicher.

Listening and Smiling

Still Listening: 150 years of Jewish Family Service (JFS), the multimedia art and historical exhibition at the Skirball Cultural Center's Ruby Gallery held its gala opening on Jan. 6. Attending the celebration were Wells Fargo regional president Shelley Freeman; Paul S. Castro, the executive director of JFS; Lois Gunther, JFS event chair; Robert Kanne, JFS exhibition chair; Marcia Volpert, president of JFS; and Jonathan Weedman regional vice president of the Wells Fargo Foundation.

Drawing on Trial

On-the-spot courtroom drawings, covering a virtual who's who of high-profile criminal trials over the last 30 years, have been acquired by the UCLA Library from artist-journalist David Rose.

The 741 sketches includes scenes from the trials of the Manson family, Patty Hearst, Black Panther leader Huey Newton, Daniel Ellsberg, director Roman Polanski and Jonathan Pollard.

Overseas, Rose covered the trial of Yigal Amir, the assassin of Yitzchak Rabin, in Israel, and the case that touched him most deeply, the conviction in France of Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie, "the Butcher of Lyon."

Rose got his professional start at the Walt Disney Studios, served in the U.S. Army's animated cartoon section headed by Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) and has since worked for leading newspapers, magazines and TV networks.

Now in his 80s, Rose shows no signs of slowing down. His drawings will be housed in the UCLA's Department of Special Collections. -- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

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