Posted by Danielle Berrin
Vanity Fair contributing editor Kevin Sessums conducted a fascinating interview with Kevin Spacey in advance of his role as disgraced (Jewish) lobbyist Jack Abramoff in “Casino Jack.” The real meat of the interview, however, has nothing to do with Abramoff, but the concept of tribalism, which Sessums uses as a lead in to try and get Spacey on the record about his sexuality. It has been rumored for years that Spacey is gay but the actor has never publicly outed himself. Sessums sort of inexplicitly asks him about this, and why he has never felt the need to beat the drums of gay pride. Spacey responds, inexplicitly, in intellectual and political terms, citing his belief that sexuality is not a topic for the public sphere. That’s private, Spacey argues.
It brought to mind a recent conversation I had with Werner Hanak-Lettner, curator for the Jewish Museum Vienna, who was in town last week researching an exhibition on the History of Hollywood that will launch in October 2011. I asked him how Hollywood Jews had managed to preserve dual identities, as Jews and Americans, at various points in history when they seemed to be in conflict. In the early days, Hollywood Jews wanted to dissociate themselves from religious Judaism which they felt was highly stigmatized, and of course, brought with it brutal consequences in Eastern Europe and Russia. His answer? That Hollywood Jews separated their Americanness from their Judaism by relegating their religious life to the private sphere:
“Go back to The Jazz Singer where it’s really a movie about an agreement of a whole generation that says, ‘[Religion is] a private thing. We don’t have to decide if we are observant and then have Judaism in all [parts of our] life. This was really a statement that religion is your private life.”
Here are the best bits from the Sessums-Spacey interview from The Daily Beast:
Sessums: OK, but at any point you want to go off-the-record let me know. Casino Jack has a tribal motif running through it. There is Abramoff’s taking advantage of the Native-American tribes and playing them off each other. There is the tribe of lobbyists in D.C., which is itself a tribal town. And there is his deep identification as a Jew that almost takes on tribal aspects in its religiosity. As I sat in the screening watching all these tribal narrative streams blend together I began to feel compelled to put this to you. We gay men have always proudly claimed you as a member of our tribe, and yet you don’t proudly claim us back. Why?
Spacey: Look, I might have lived in England for the last several years but I’m still an American citizen and I have not given up my right to privacy.
Sessums: But that’s where we differ. I don’t think being gay is a private matter. Heterosexuals don’t consider their heterosexuality itself a private matter. I’m not asking you what goes on behind a locked door anymore than I would ask a heterosexual. I’m not asking if you’re a top or bottom. That’s none of my business.
Spacey: Let’s enlarge the subject even more. I think what we have seen in terms of gay teenagers committing suicide because of bullying is anguishing. I think young people, if they are feeling like they are confused, need to know that there are people to talk to and that there are places they can go and not feel alone. But I feel that they have just as many rights as I do to not be bullied. And I don’t understand people who say, “Well, this is a terrible thing that is happening to this young person whose life is being exposed,” and then turn around and do it to another person. People have different reasons for the way they live their lives. You cannot put everyone’s reasons in the same box. It’s just a line I’ve never crossed and never will.
Sessums: I don’t see sexuality as a weapon. I see it as a gift. Look, I know that being an actor—and all the emotion and sexuality and longing that is projected onto you in a role by an audience—complicates the issue in that you have to take into account their required complicity in the very essence of your art. No performance is complete until their belief is a part of it. But I stopped being an actor after I left Juilliard because I couldn’t live a lie to enable myself to pretend. That was too much of a double whammy.
Spacey: I don’t live a lie. You have to understand that people who choose not to discuss their personal lives are not living a lie. That is a presumption that people jump to.
Sessums: There are lies of omission. But I have never heard that you are at all hypocritical in your daily life with your close friends and family. You’ve admitted you’re a political animal so you have to understand the social significance of your being more open when discussing this. But you’ve been great to keep this all on the record. I appreciate that. That speaks to your innate integrity.
Spacey: Look, at the end of the day people have to respect people’s differences. I am different than some people would like me to be. I just don’t buy into that the personal can be political. I just think that’s horseshit. No one’s personal life is in the public interest. It’s gossip, bottom line. End of story. Now some people feed that. They’ll go to the trendy restaurants where all the photographers are and then bitch about being famous. But if you don’t want to feed that and you want your life to be based around what your work is then it ends there. Your saying that you are gay and that is how you walk about in the world and it has nothing to do with your true private life is a good distinction for you to draw. But it’s not such a good distinction for other people. Personally, I don’t really think that distinction exits.
Read the rest at The Daily Beast
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December 16, 2010 | 2:40 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Werner Hanak-Lettner, a curator for the Jüdisches Museum Wien (the Jewish Museum Vienna) has lately been asking a lot of the question, “Does Hollywood feel like a Jewish place?”
The simple answer could be “not really.” But according to Hanak-Lettner, who is organizing a major European exhibition on the first 100 years of Hollywood, that response would be a superficial reading; the impressions made by movies and celebrity magazines tell only part of the story of how Hollywood created a new paradigm in the American mythos.
“Hollywood is really one of the main cultural histories of the 20th century,” Hanak-Lettner said over breakfast at Hillcrest Country Club, itself a bastion of old Hollywood mystique. “And it is something that is big here in Los Angeles, but it is also big in the world.”
The impetus behind the exhibition, “Bigger Than Life: Hollywood’s First 100 Years,” stems, unsurprisingly, from post-Holocaust contrition. “After the Holocaust, there was a commitment made by the states of Austria and Germany to tell the Jewish history of the various cities, so a wave of Jewish museums was created,” he said.
The nascent Jewish cultural revival is an attempt to reclaim a lost history, but, also, a history that was never fully acknowledged to begin with. “[In high school] we were taught about the Holocaust, but we were not taught Jewish history. When you were talking about Jews and Judaism, it came in the moment when history class was talking about extinction and murder; and if you learn about Jews only in the moment when they are dying, they remain dead bodies for you.”
So Hanak-Lettner, who is not Jewish, came to Los Angeles to track down the progeny of Hollywood legends. He met with a Laemmle, a Zukor and a Warner, and he was desperately looking for a Marx — that is, Groucho’s son Arthur. He also told me he wanted to find the bat that the Bear Jew used to pummel Nazis in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.” That would be a hit item for the exhibition.
Hanak-Lettner is one of five curators at the Jewish Museum Vienna, where he has been a presence since its inception in 1993. He received his doctoral degree from the Universitat Wien (University of Vienna) where he studied history, film and theater. Hollywood has always captivated him, he said, because it is about “immigration, integration and new media” — themes as relevant today as they were 100 years ago, when a bunch of Eastern European Jews well versed in the textile business traded in their shmattes for movie stars.
Hollywood’s founders went West, Hanak-Lettner said, because the East Coast was code for Jewish emigration. Way out West, they could not only become American, they could envisage the ideal of what it would mean to be American.
“They created not only a whole history, a whole industry, but they also recoined the American myth and gave images to it,” Hanak-Lettner said. “It isn’t very often that somebody comes from the outside and has the eye for what is the core of the society and can make [it into] a narrative that then is accepted by the whole.”
But that’s the classic Jewish story, isn’t it? The tale of the outsider struggling to get in; the plight of the few overcoming the powerful. And it’s biblical: Joseph’s rise to prominence in Egypt is an apt parallel for what Hollywood meant to American Jews. Hollywood turned the Joseph story into the quintessential American tale; after all, who is more “American” than Joseph — that rugged individualist who is cast out, friendless and penniless, but who emerges the Grand Vizier of Egypt? It is the American dream co-opted by Jewish legacy.
But as much as Hollywood’s founders tried to hide their identities, they couldn’t escape the contents of their kishkas. So they simply refashioned the Jewish story as an American one.
“It is not only that immigrants came here and made movies,” Hanak-Lettner said. “It’s that these films were made for immigrants and taught them how to behave in America.”
Hollywood’s first sex symbol — the original femme fatale — was Theodosia Goodman, or Theda Bara. She was born in Ohio to a tailor and his Swiss wife, but Hollywood sold her as an exotic Arab princess: the Egyptian-born daughter of a French actress and an Italian sculptor.
All of which is a faint echo of the truth. But it was the only way for Jews to go from the gas chambers of Europe to the golf course at Hillcrest.
From his non-Jewish, European vantage point, Hanak-Lettner marvels at the existence of a Hillcrest. “Do you have the feeling … do you feel somehow European in this place?” It would be deliciously ironic if Hillcrest’s Jewish founders re-created European opulence to assert their new power. “[Hillcrest] is really a story of Jews gaining place here in Los Angeles, you know, getting more important.”
There is something undeniably tribal — and paradoxical — about Hillcrest, which was founded, and populated mostly by Hollywood Jews, in the 1920s, when no other social clubs in Los Angeles permitted Jewish membership. Today it requires prestige to “belong” — the outsiders become insiders.
“Hollywood helped Jews find a place in America, and it is a very special cultural life that Jews gave to Hollywood and to Los Angeles: Just look at the historic sight of Wilshire Boulevard Temple with the murals inside. Nobody else in the world, even in a Reform synagogue, has murals like that. There you feel [a sense of] some sort of kingdom that was once here.”
It was Warner Bros. chieftain Jack Warner who commissioned the biblically inspired murals in 1929, and they are emblamatic of Hollywood’s importance to the Jewish community, a reminder that the Kingdom of Hollywood was a Jewish response to the modern world.
“A guy once said to me — a musician working in TV — ‘It would be interesting to work in Hollywood, but you have to be a Jew.’ I said, ‘I don’t believe that, because I know other musicians in Hollywood who aren’t Jewish; you just have to face [the fact that] they invented it!’ ” Hanak-Lettner said.
From his perch in a chandelier-bedecked dining room overlooking Hillcrest’s magnificently manicured golf course, he concluded, “I don’t feel bad if lots of producing people are Jewish here. I mean, they came here and did all this, so why should it be different after 100 years?”
December 14, 2010 | 6:01 pm
Posted by Naomi Pfefferman
“The King’s Speech”—which today snagged seven Golden Globe Awards nominations, the most of any contending film – is the brainchild of British screenwriter and nominee David Seidler, whose flight from the Nazis and Jewish family trauma partly inspired the movie. Other frontrunners include the Mark Zuckerberg-Facebook saga “The Social Network,” tied with “The Fighter” with six nods; and Darren Aronofsky’s lushly photographed, intense ballet drama, “Black Swan,” with four nominations.
Kevin Spacey, who plays disgraced Orthodox former lobbyist Jack Abramoff in “Casino Jack,” is up for best actor in a musical or comedy, as is Paul Giamatti of “Barney’s Version,” based on a novel by Canadian-Jewish author Mordecai Richler. Meanwhile, Jesse Eisenberg (Zuckerberg in “The Social Network”) will compete in the dramatic category with performers such as “127 Hours’” James Franco, who recently spoke to the Journal about combining his film work with doctoral studies in English at Yale and even his desire to become bar mitzvah.
“The King’s Speech,” which is nominated for best picture and best screenplay, and is considered a frontrunner for the Oscars – tells of how England’s King George VI, a severe stutterer, overcame his crippling debilitation with the help of an unorthodox speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush, nominated for best supporting actor).
In a Journal interview with Arts & Entertainment Editor Naomi Pfefferman, the 73-year-old Seidler described how he fled the Blitz with his family just before the age of 3, arriving in New York a stutterer due to the turmoil. But wartime radio broadcasts by England’s King George VI — who himself overcame stuttering— gave Seidler hope. “He was a childhood hero of mine,” the screenwriter explained.
The accolades lavished upon the film have thrilled Seidler, whose previous efforts have been more modest endeavors in television and film. In fact the movie’s brilliant premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival “was one of those magical moments,” Seidler said. “It was a big theater – at least 2,000 people – and when the film ended 2,000 people rose to their feet. It was pretty overwhelming. I was just suddenly struck very forcefully that my voice had truly been heard; stutterers often feel that no one wants to hear them speak. Then they turned the spotlight on and there I was with mucus coming out of my nose and tears pouring down.”
Seidler believes viewers relate to the film because “It’s not just about being a king or a stutterer. It’s about any kind of marginalization. And when we’re talking about marginalization from society,” he added, “this is something that certainly resonates with the Jewish community.”
In another interview with The Journal, Eisenberg, ever the meticulous artist, recounted how he prepared for the role of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg: “I read everything I could about him, and watched every video.” Did Eisenberg like his controversial character? “Very much so,” he said, “because I spent six months, 14 hours a day thinking about him, and so I developed a great affection, as you do with any role you play that you like. You develop a great affection for the character and it really takes up a special emotional place.”
The film’s other nominees include screenwriter Aaron Sorkin; Andrew Garfield in the best supporting actor category for his portrayal of Zuckerberg’s best friend and Facebook co-founder, Eduardo Saverin; and director David Fincher.
Another competitor is director Aronofky, whose “Black Swan” spotlights a dancer’s descent into madness under horrific pressure to achieve artistic perfection. Those who remember Aronofsky’s Jewish characters in the Kabalistic thriller “Pi” and “Requiem for a Dream” may perceive some Tribal dynamics in “Black Swan,” whose four female actresses – including nominees Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis – hail from Jewish backgrounds. “What Aronofsky serves up, whether intentional or not, is an uncommonly well-wrought portrait of the classic push-pull of Jewish mothers and daughters: You’re perfect, but not perfect enough,” Tablet noted. “Their relationship curdles under the pressure of smothering closeness, but that doesn’t make it any less engrossing, just more complex: Nina might routinely hit “ignore” when her cell phone flashes “Mom” on caller ID, but when she finds out she will be the next Swan Queen, the first thing she does is lock herself in a bathroom stall to call home and report the news: “He picked me, Mommy!”
Also of interest to Journal readers: Radu Mihaileanu’s “The Concert” is up for best foreign film for its tale of a celebrated conductor of the Bolshoi Orchestra, Andrei Filipov, who was ostracized for refusing to fire his Jewish friends. Melanie Laurent, who played the vengeful Jewess of “Inglourious Basterds” stars as an enigmatic French violinist.
The 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards will be broadcast nationwide live on NBC, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011 from 5:00-8:00 (PST)/8:00-11:00 (EST) from the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
December 14, 2010 | 5:02 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
As it turns out, hasty Canadian weddings do not make for long and happy marriages, as Scarlett Johansson has learned. The blonde bombshell married actor Ryan Reynolds that way little more than two years ago, and TMZ is now reporting that the couple will divorce.
Bad news for the broken-hearted; good news for Jewish males who can now at least fantasize that a newly single Scarlett is back on the market.
December 10, 2010 | 1:15 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
It was an evening of money and music.
Which isn’t terribly surprising when media mogul Haim Saban is your host. For one, he’s listed as a Forbes billionaire, but lesser known is his passion for music: In 1966, he played bass in an Israeli rock band, The Lions of Judah, and after that, he made his first fortune composing scores for television cartoons.
So it wasn’t altogether unexpected that by combining his business acumen with his predilection for music that Saban was able to raise almost $9 million for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces western regional chapter during last night’s gala dinner in Century City: First achieve your goal, then reward your team.
The event, hosted for the fourth consecutive year by Saban and his wife, Cheryl, was a lesson in how to throw a party. There was the astonishing entertainment (Andrea Bocelli), the better-than-average food (smoked salmon salad), and syrupy videos of IDF soldiers designed to tug at the heartstrings. All of which proved that no one else in the Los Angeles Jewish community is quite as deft at enticing others to take up a cause than the Sabans.
“At the conclusion of Hanukkah, we remember how the Maccabees triumphed in the face of odds,” Haim said while addressing the crowd. “Let’s not forget that the Jewish people overcame the Syrian-Greeks, the Roman empire, the Spanish Inquisition, the Russian pogroms, the Holocaust. We are a resilient people, a strong people, a successful people.” And with a defiant voice, as if he were speaking directly to Israel’s enemies, he said: “We are here to stay and stay forever.”
And nothing ensures a place at the table like a whole lot of money. If there’s anything Saban knows well, it’s business—and a friendly challenge to his comrades went a long way last night when he kicked off a kind of bidding war that brought the fundraiser’s total from an initial $2.5 million to $8,750,000.
“On the way in, Cheryl said to me, ‘I think we should match what we raise tonight,’” Saban told 1,000 dinner guests from the podium. “I said, ‘You’re the boss.’”
The “unprecedented sum” of $2.5 million—which, until that moment had been the highest amount raised during the Sabans’ tenure as chairs—became $5 million.
“Seinfeld” star Jason Alexander, who struck the perfect pitch as the evening’s emcee quipped, “This is better than my temple building fund.”
With pep and wit, Alexander prompted the crowd to follow Saban’s lead, gushing over Saban’s good looks and feigning romantic interest for laughs. “Who wants to become the second most attractive man in the room?”
With that, Leo David, a former Israeli soldier himself and the founder of the FIDF western regional branch, stood up and pledged $1 million.
“Mr. Leo David just became more handsome than Haim Saban,” Alexander said.
Next, Paul Guerin, the president of the west coast FIDF chapter, pledged $1 million and after that, the floodgates opened…
FIDF western regional director Miri Nash, dressed sharply in a black cocktail dress that accented her long blonde hair, began dashing around the room with a microphone in hand, tossing it off to anyone who wanted to pledge more for the pot. A 17-year-old named Dominic pledged $1,000; another family gave $18,000 on behalf of the Persian synagogue Nessah; yet another family promised $100,000; and on and on until the final major gifts—$500,000 from Guess jeans founder Paul Marciano and $1 million more from his brother, Maurice—concluded an exceptionally energizing and effective philanthropic ploy.
Even at four times the amount expected, Alexander pressed on: “If anybody else would like to become attractive… God will write you into the book; you don’t even have to go to high holidays next year.”
The intensity escalated even further when David Foster, the 16-time Grammy winning artist took over the mic and the piano for the musical portion of the evening. Surprisingly boisterous and funny, Foster invited American Idol runner-up Katherine McPhee to perform her rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” before introducing “the best singer in the entire world”—Andrea Bocelli—to come on stage for a 6-piece program that included hits “The Prayer” and “Time to Say Goodbye.”
But the most tender part of the night was when 9-year-old piano prodigy Ethan Bortnick took the stage to perform Mozart and turned towards the IDF soldiers sitting in the front row, gushing: “You guys are my new heroes.”
Read my cover story on Haim Saban at jewishjournal.com
December 9, 2010 | 4:42 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
I’m not going to speculate on this just yet, but it is growing increasingly likely that the above question will have a long shelf-life.
Though he is careful to assert that this is not an early endorsement, Ralph Nader, writing on The Daily Beast, offers his take on why Bloomberg could make a compelling 2012 presidential bid:
1. He starts out well-known nationally with a broad support core of city mayors and urbanists with whom he has worked for years to steep himself in knowledge about metropolitan matters.
5. He has personally contributed to many non-profit groups and initiatives in addition to grants from his family foundation’s over the years. Both generate good will and indicate his specific priorities. No bloviating politician here.
6. In the next two years, the Republicans and Democrats will often be at loggerheads, mired in the gridlock of divided government. This turns many people off. These are the voters who look for independent candidates such as Bloomberg.
7. The percentage of voters registering as independent is at an all-time high. In some states there are more independently registered voters than those registering as Republicans or Democrats. Independent voters are more likely to shift their allegiance than loyal partisan voters.
13. Nowadays, people do give billionaires the benefit of the doubt—to wit—“he can’t be bought;” “he was very successful and met a large payroll;” “he doesn’t owe the fat cats anything,” “he’s not going to be a wild, unpredictable unknown,” “he has a stake in a stable system.”
17. The established powers know he is no revolutionary to be feared. He has supported many city and state subsidies for city-based corporations so that they do not move to Hoboken. He is especially solicitous to the city’s financial industry as its best job-producer. Yet, he wants to make many changes—small and big—including tougher management of the swollen, fraud-ridden military budget and the unfairness of the tax system. Still, he induces confidence by the establishment. He is no upheavalist.
Read the rest at The Daily Beast
December 9, 2010 | 3:38 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
A different picture of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is emerging than the one Aaron Sorkin would have you see.
Instead of the fictional Zuckerberg who comes off awkward, insensitive and ruthless in “The Social Network,” the real Mark Zuckerberg is turning out to be – well, a mensch.
This morning, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett announced that Zuckerberg, 27, and Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz (Jew? – joke.) would join The Giving Pledge, a campaign helmed by America’s wealthiest men to donate half their net worth to charity. The Facebook founders join another 57 billionaires who have committed to the pledge, including a coterie of Jewish givers like California residents Eli and Edythe Broad, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Orthodox Jewish investor Ronald Perelman and media mogul Barry Diller and his wife, the fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg.
The commitment itself stands on its own merits, but that Zuckerberg and Moskovitz are the youngest to take up the challenge brings a different sort of prestige. Barely pushing 30, the future of both of these men is uncertain. There is more risk in their commitment; their pledge requires more faith.
For one, neither one of them yet has a family, which inevitably complicates plans for distributing wealth. Although the absence of those considerations frees them to do their will. On the other hand, what if they suffer a bad investment? Or what if their priorities change?
The lesson Zuckerberg and Moskovitz come to teach us is that it doesn’t matter. There are no circumstances of life in which it isn’t appropriate to give as much as you can. And the beauty of The Giving Pledge is that is doesn’t specify where or to whom the billionaires must give, it simply insists that they do.
“People wait until late in their career to give back. But why wait when there is so much to be done?” Zuckerberg said in a statement. In addition to the billionaire pledge, Zuckerberg committed $100 million to Newark, New Jersey public schools last September.
“With a generation of younger folks who have thrived on the success of their companies, there is a big opportunity for many of us to give back earlier in our lifetime and see the impact of our philanthropic efforts.”
That hardly sounds like the same egotistical anti-hero we meet in “The Social Network,” whose myopic focus on realizing his vision renders him incapable or uninterested in most worldly concerns. Instead, Zuckerberg broods. He builds. He hurts people.
But what Mark Zuckerberg has created since those early Harvard days when immaturity and sexuality reigned, has enabled the most extraordinary transformation from self-centeredness to selflessness.
Zuckerberg always said he built Facebook to change the world. Now he can.
December 8, 2010 | 6:23 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
The Beverly Hills Police Department is selling a story that sounds radically implausible but may be true: That Ronni Chasen was killed in a random attempted robbery, by a lone gunman, who shot her from his bicycle, while waiting at a stoplight in Beverly Hills.
That was only coherent picture that emerged from a press conference held at Beverly Hills Police Department headquarters earlier this afternoon.
BHPD Chief Dave Snowden told a rabid crowd of reporters, from The Daily Beast to CNN, that a ballistics report conducted in the investigation of Chasen’s murder confirmed that the gun Harold Martin Smith used to commit suicide on Dec. 1 at the Harvey Apartments was the same gun used to kill Ronni Chasen.
“The same gun that was used to kill Ms. Chasen killed Harold Smith,” Snowden said.
In a movie, this information would be a lead-in to the next chapter, in which we discover a complex web of people tied to the murder. But instead, BHPD wants their Hollywood ending. And soon.
“We believe he acted alone,” Snowden said, before turning the mic over to Sgt. Mike Publicker.
“This was a random act of violence,” Publicker reiterated. “With Mr. Smith’s background, we believe it was a robbery gone bad.” According to interviews conducted during the investigation, Publicker concluded that Harold Smith “was at a desperate point in his life.”
That desperation brought him to a stoplight in Beverly Hills, on the corner of Sunset Blvd. and Whittier Drive, where he just happened to be hanging out at midnight on a Monday, waiting to shoot, kill, and then not rob someone.
“We believe his mode of transportation was a bicycle,” Publicker said. “We believe he intended to rob her.” Even though, in the end, he didn’t.
It seems that for the BHPD, that’s motive enough.
But the crowd wasn’t buying, and an incredulous press pressed on:
“Is he a suspect in other robberies that have taken place on bicycles?” one reporter asked.
Publicker said the bicycle is currently in custody of the Los Angeles Police Department, but they expect it to be turned over to BHPD for analysis.
“So you mean to say that an ex-con with nothing in common with Ms. Chasen was just waiting at a stoplight in Beverly Hills to rob her?” another reporter interjected.
“We do not believe he was a paid hit man.” Publicker said.
When asked if they were satisfied with the results of the investigation, BHPD said that the Chasen murder mystery is “ongoing” but they feel confident that the investigation is between “60-percent and 70-percent done.”
Thanks to the television classic “America’s Most Wanted” which fielded the anonymous tip that led them to Harold Smith.
But what of tracing the sale of the gun? Or the results of the coroner’s report? And what about the rumor that Smith bragged to a neighbor about a $10,000 payday for “a job” he was doing?
“There are a lot of quasi-experts on radio and TV that don’t know what the heck they’re talking about,” Publicker said. He blamed the media for piecing together unrelated bits of information into a marketable story.
At the end of the conference, Beverly Hills Mayor Jimmy Delshad (who is Jewish) praised the BHPD for a “professional and skillful” job.