Posted by Danielle Berrin
Comedian Elon Gold’s election night fantasy would have been “going to Clooney’s for a dinner party, where me, Brad [Pitt], Matt [Damon], Ben [Affleck] and 50 supermodels -- one per state -- watch the election unfold.” But instead, he stayed home with his four children “trying to explain the electoral college system and why it sucks!”
For Hollywood, a noted bastion of support for the Democratic party, election night celebrations were demonstrably subdued. Rather than glamorous red-carpet parties, many opted for small gatherings with friends or a night at home in front of the television -- because, let’s face it, this isn’t the Oscars.
Media mogul Haim Saban, a stalwart Democrat and close friend of the Clintons, admitted that with his wife, Cheryl (a newly minted ambassador to the United Nations), out of town, he would probably watch the election results with his in-laws.
Around 8:50 p.m., when it became clear President Obama was the favorite to win, Saban had popped over to a friend’s to celebrate.
“I’m in a very good mood and having a good time looking at Karl Rove splitting hair and calculating and debating his own colors on Fox News,” Saban said wryly. An outspoken advocate for Obama -- he declared his support in a Sept. 4 op-ed for the New York Times -- Saban said he was confident Obama is the right friend for Israel.
“The bottom line is, I know what Obama has done for Israel and I don’t know who Romney is at any level, including what he says about Israel. He’s a flip-flopper, that has, on matters of the utmost importance, gone from left to right, from right back to left, to the center, back to the right -- I don’t know who he is and the world is in such a state that we cannot afford to elect someone who we don’t know.”
Another avowed Democrat, producer Harvey Weinstein, who hosted a $38,500-a-plate fundraiser for Obama at his Westport Conn.. home last August, said he had cancelled his New York soiree in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and traveled to Los Angeles instead. At a quarter to 9 on election night, with his candidate on the verge of victory, he emailed that he was “celebrating with friends, exhausted and happy.”
While in Los Angeles, Weinstein will reportedly screen Quentin Tarantino’s latest, “Django Unchained,” which may prove more eventful for the director than election night. “The Hollywood politicos get together to watch the returns a la ‘Shampoo,’” Tarantino wrote, referring to the 1975 film starring Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn. “But I'll be watching CNN, “The Daily Show,” and Charlie Rose on my couch.”
Likewise for Universal Studios President Ron Meyer, who called from New York just before polls were closing on the East Coast. “I’m a Democrat,” he said, “but whoever wins this election, I hope and assume they’ll focus on the economy, healthcare and employment.”
Indeed, the Hollywood emphasis on a business and work ethic moved some to campaign up until polls closed. Filmmaker Eugene Jarecki, whose drug-war documentary “The House I Live In” is now in theaters, spent much of election day pressing for support for California’s Prop 36, an amendment to the Three Strikes Law that would reduce the severity of the life-in-prison penalty should the “third strike” fall short of a violent crime.
“I’m not from here, but I traveled here because that prop is not limited to implications just for the state of California,” Jarecki said by phone Tuesday night. “The value is that it is a message of justice that can resonate on both humanistic levels and practical levels across the country. As goes California, so goes the nation.”
Eli Attie, a writer for “The West Wing” and “House”, who was also, in his former life, Al Gore’s chief White House and campaign speechwriter, said he spent election night at a dinner party with TV-writer friends. “It’s just a bunch of TV people fretting and checking Twitter and mostly not even talking to each other while tweeting to their friends exactly what was just on television.”
He was almost as delighted about an Obama victory as he was about “the loss of Wisconsin to Paul Ryan’s political future.”
“I think he is a cancer on American politics,” Attie said by phone on election night, adding that he hoped the economy would turnaround so that the country could experience a more activist government. “That’s when Obama really gets to govern again; his approval goes up, his popularity goes up, his leverage in Congress goes up -- whereas right now he’s facing a tough grind. He has to whack away at a massive deficit which will be grim for the whole country.”
Things were hardly grim, however, at Electus CEO Ben Silverman’s house, where approximately 150 people gathered for all American cuisine -- fried chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs -- to celebrate the American electorate in style. The celebration was, of course, non-partisan, with various rooms in the house broadcasting different networks; Fox, CNN and MSNBC had equal representation.
“I went from room to room,” admitted Howard Gordon, creator of the Emmy-winning series “Homeland,” based on an Israeli show. Even though Gordon’s production deal is at 20th Century Fox, he claims no loyalty to any one network.
But he has some expert insight into American politics, since both his shows “24” and “Homeland” focus on issues of national security and government.
“I hope that America can take its place as a leader among nations,” Gordon said minutes before Romney’s concession speech. “The world feels more volatile than ever; the global economy is challenging, and there are a stew of social issues that need attention. The world has never needed American leadership as deeply as it does now -- we have a prerogative to stand up for values.”
He sure sounded Jewish.
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November 2, 2012 | 3:28 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Unless you’ve been living in a dark acultural cave, it has become celebrated fact that the Israeli creative industry is in the throes of a modern renaissance. Which makes the annual Israel Film Festival, set to roll out the red carpet for its 27th year next March, a gift to Los Angeles, and its two week-film program, an anticipated moment on the city’s cultural calendar.
But there is another reason why this year’s festival will be significant: Hollywood is paying close attention.
That arousing energy animated the festival’s sponsor luncheon on Thursday, an intimate gathering for supporters from the worlds of film, fashion and philanthropy at the SLS Hotel. “This combines the two things I love most,” said comedian and actor Elon Gold, who served as emcee. “Israel and the movies.”
During the two-hour luncheon, supporters were frank about the opportunity to further endorse the business relationship between Hollywood and Israel.
“We’re in a golden period when it comes to Israeli culture,” said Consul General of Israel David Siegel. With hits like “Homeland” continuing to absorb American audiences, and a spate of consecutive Oscar nominations for Israeli films, Hollywood is increasingly looking to Israel as a cultural and commercial ally.
“We don’t have a week without someone coming to us and saying, ‘I’d like to do this in Israel; help me make it happen,’” Siegel said. “It’s a really special time and we have to work with Hollywood to make more happen.”
Over wild arugula salads and fleshy, fillets of salmon festival director Meir Fenigstein feted this year’s big donors, including the Israeli-born real estate developer Izek Shomof, known for revitalizing several blocks of Spring Street in Downtown L.A., as well as banking executive Yoav Peled, vice president of the California branch of the Israel Discount Bank.
“That so Jewish,” Gold said of the bank’s name. “It’s like, cheap people don’t spend. We spend --- as long as we spend less. As long as we get a good deal.”
The tongue-in-cheek joke fell on the ears of several prominent philanthropists, including Israeli-American Adam Milstein, managing partner with Hager Pacific Properties and a founder of the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation, and the Holocaust survivors turned American success stories, Max Webb and Jonah Goldrich. But Fenigstein was careful not to put too much pressure on those with deep pockets. “It’s a bad economy,” he told me during cocktail hour on the outdoor patio. “I’m starting early and going slow.”
Instead of a pitch, he appealed to donor appetites and emotions, offering a preview of films from the festival’s March slate.
Los Angeles is one of only three American cities to host the Israel Film Festival, which also runs in New York and Miami, and presents a prime opportunity to foster the Hollywood-Israel connection.
And there’s probably no sweeter music to donors’ ears than to hear that their contribution is also a good investment.
November 2, 2012 | 10:31 am
Posted by Danielle Berrin
The Hollywood doyenne of the Democrats tells American Jews that President Obama shares their values. In this youtube video for the National Jewish Democractic Council, Babs addresses Obama's record on the economy, women's rights, gay rights and Israel.
"President Obama continues to stand strongly with our ally Israel and in preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons while implementing the strictest sanctions ever," Streisand says.
"Governor Romney would take us backwards," she says of Romney's policies on women's reproductive rights, healthcare and taxation. "Mitt Romney does not share our values. I know Barack Obama does. In this good man, we have a president we can trust, a president whom I trust."