Posted by Danielle Berrin
Pop music icon Stevie Wonder has cancelled his performance scheduled for the Dec. 6 FIDF Gala in Los Angeles saluting IDF Soldiers. The event is sponsored by philanthropists Haim and Cheryl Saban.
The 25-time Grammy winner was to appear for an expected 1,200 FIDF supporters, including dignitaries from the U.S. and Israel, at the FIDF Western Region Gala, which is also scheduled to feature Grammy Winner David Foster & Friends with “Seinfeld” veteran Jason Alexander as Emcee.
According to a press release issued on the morning of Nov. 29: “Representatives of the performer cited a recommendation from the United Nations to withdraw his participation given Wonder’s involvement with the organization. FIDF National Director and CEO, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon: ‘We regret the fact that Stevie Wonder has decided to cancel his performance at an important community event of the FIDF, an American organization supporting the educational, cultural, and wellbeing needs of Israel’s soldiers, their families, and the families of fallen soldiers. FIDF is a non-political organization that provides much-needed humanitarian support regardless of religion, political affiliation, or military activity.’”
Representatives at both the national and local FIDF offices declined to comment further on the reason for Wonder's pullout, but it appears there was a substantial online campaign calling for Wonder's withdrawal from the event.
The Website endtheoccupation.org, ostensibly a part of the international Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is celebrating a "victory" after posting a letter to Wonder pressuring him to cancel.
"We are a diverse group of people of conscience and social justice organizations around the world, saddened by the announcement that you will be performing and helping to raise money for the Israeli army," the letter said. It went on to draw parallels between South African apatheid and Israel's policies towards the Palestinians and clocked more than 4,000 signatures the morning of the cancellation, according to their Website.
Another online petition, at the Website Change.org posted by a woman from Italy and with 4,570 signatories stated: "We call on Stevie Wonder, as a conscientious American advocate for human rights and dignity not to support the Israeli Defense Force by performing at their gala fundraiser... The IDF is an institution which promotes, enables, and protects Israel's Apartheid regime."
This targeting of high profile celebrities who express plans to perform in or on behalf of the State of Israel is not uncommon. In recent years, a group of music industry executives established the nonprofit Creative Community for Peace (CCFP) to privately and publicly counter artist boycotts of Israel.
Earlier today, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that a source who had read emails between Wonder's reps and FIDF organizers said Wonder would pull out and play dumb: "[He would] claim that he did not know the nature of the group, the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, and that he believes such a performance would be incongruent with his status as a U.N. 'Messenger of Peace.'"
It is hard to believe a music legend such as Stevie Wonder, who has been in the business for decades, would not pay closer attention to the organizations for whom he agrees to perform (in this case, the purpose of the organization is evident in the name of the organization). It is harder still to believe this would occur under host Haim Saban's watch, since he is a devoted music fan and has in the past secured the entertainment acts himself. Last year, for example, Saban's good friend Barbra Streisand performed at the banquet, and the year prior, Andrea Bocelli included one of Saban's favorite songs, "Besame Mucho," in his 6-song set.
But what's a favor to a friend in the face of political fearmongering?
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November 20, 2012 | 4:13 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
In the beginning, there was comedy.
"Have you heard the one about two Jewish ladies sitting around in a restaurant, and the waiter comes up and says, ‘Is there anything all right?’” the multi-hyphenate filmmaker Rob Reiner asks the moment we sit down in a glass-enclosed cove adjacent to his private office on Sunset Boulevard.
Actually, I tell him, I’ve heard the other one, about the two gentiles who meet on the street — one says, ‘How are you?’ The other says, ‘Fine.’ ”
He laughs, in recognition.
Jokes about the Jewish penchant for kvetching are a Reiner favorite. In fact, I first heard the latter joke from Reiner Senior, aka Carl, earlier this year. The like-father-like-son comes as a relief, since I had read that Reiner Junior told Bill Maher he has no religious affiliation. “An un-Jewish Reiner?” I thought. That’s like Madonna without a cone-bra.
When I mention this to Reiner, he responds with a curious mix of what I can only describe as spiritual secularism.
“I believe we all have a search that we go thorough,” he says. Though he illustrates this in a peculiar way: “I believe Jesus was a man. He was not a God. He was a man, a Jewish man. And if you believe that Jesus was a Jewish man, and that, for whatever reasons — he didn’t know who his father was, he was feeling empty — he went looking to find something, and he went into the wilderness and he came back and he preached ‘love thy neighbor,’ ‘do unto others,’ and the fact that he arrived at those deep philosophical beliefs was because he went through a process of doing the work.”
Reiner equates this with how math teachers require students to “show their work.” And though one could counter that religion, too, encourages responsibility, Reiner camps himself in with a growing number of secularists who see religion as proscriptive and extreme. “Organized religion, generally speaking, has a way of taking away that search, that thought process,” he says.
Boy, would he have a field day with Talmud.
For the director of Hollywood classics such as “When Harry Met Sally …,” “The Princess Bride,” “A Few Good Men” and “This Is Spinal Tap,” Jewishness courses through the blood and the brain, but not necessarily via the Bible.
Reiner grew up in an Italian-Jewish neighborhood in the Bronx, where he said he never experienced any kind of anti-Semitism. “Growing up, the show business atmosphere shielded me from a lot of that,” he says. But despite his untroubled childhood, the history of Jewish persecution looms large. His worldview, for example, is largely organized around ideas of self-preservation and survival. And he understands his role as a storyteller as a response to Jewish history.
“Humor is a way of letting your emotions out, of unburdening yourself from the angst that goes on inside of you as a result of having been persecuted,” he says. “And Jewish people have been so burdened for such a long time that it gives birth to great innovation, a desire to succeed, to survive. And because Jews were [exiled from their] homeland, they had to survive by intelligence and wits.”
Despite his distancing from Judaism, almost every value he claims to hold comes — admittedly, even proudly — directly from the Jews. But he finds himself more closely aligned with the ideas that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s father, Benzion, (to say nothing of Adolf Hitler) popularized in his work, in that he sees Jews as a race. “There are traditions and customs that have nothing to do with religion, but have to do with you as a person,” Reiner says. For example: “Jewish people have always stressed education; there is a high level of intellectualism among Jews — look at Freud, Einstein, Salk. When you talk about such a small group of people in the world and to have such a massive impact on society — whether it’s in economics or the arts, medicine, science — it’s extraordinary!”
His unmitigated awe at Jewish exceptionalism prompts me to tell him he sounds like my mother. He is undeterred. “I think it has to do with fighting back, this desire to succeed; because we’ve been persecuted.”
The cool thing about Reiner is that he’s taken his feelings about Jewish exceptionalism, of chosen-ness, and channeled them into Jewish responsibility. A renowned and respected political activist, he supports causes ranging from early childhood education to the environment to gay rights. Through the nonprofit Parents’ Action for Children, which he co-founded with his wife, Michele, he championed the 1998 ballot measure California Children and Families Initiative, which proposed levying a tax on tobacco to pay for developmental programs for preschool children. Reiner got so many Hollywood heavyweights to support the measure — including Dustin Hoffman, Nicole Kidman, Steven Spielberg and David Geffen — that it prompted the San Francisco Chronicle to quip that the campaign had “more silver screen glitter than Glinda the Good Witch’s magic wand.” The proposition passed.
Another success came in 2003, when he led an effort to save California’s Ahmanson Ranch and Ballona Wetlands from commercial development. The swath of land just west of the San Fernando Valley was a famed movie location, including for the film “Gone With the Wind.” Reiner also lobbied heavily, albeit unsuccessfully, to defeat Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure banning same-sex marriage in California. His activism prompted the group California Watch, a subsidiary of the nonpartisan Center for Investigative Reporting, to name him one of the top 100 political donors in California. According to its Web site, Reiner ranked 17th among California’s big givers (just below T. Boone Pickens Jr., the energy and oil magnate from Texas); he gave nearly $3.5 million to political campaigns between 2001 and 2011, at least half of which went exclusively to ballot measures.
“It’s just ingrained,” he says of his activism. “It’s not like I feel I have to do it; it feels like it’s just part of me. I was raised to have a larger sphere of concern for others. It’s in the DNA of being Jewish to feel put upon and to feel burdened, and it’s in our DNA to want to unburden others.”
I ask him if he believes in God.
“I don’t believe in the religious view of God,” he says. “My personal belief is that all living things are interconnected in some way and that when we die, there is energy, and we all become part of some cosmic consciousness. A cosmic soup!”
Oddly enough, that could also describe his political philosophy, which is more or less about preserving the integrity of all creation. Reiner believes every person should have access to health care and education (“It’s a right, not a privilege”), and that the environment deserves the same stewardship and protection. A staunch Democrat, he explains his party loyalty simply: “The Democrats have always espoused: ‘Everybody gets help.’ ”
Although Hollywood is notably generous with causes, Reiner tends to steep himself in the things he cares about, both financially and physically. “Doing good requires more than just being a celebrity,” he says. “For me it[’s] actually taking on another job.” He counts his father and writer/producer Norman Lear as his role models, both Hollywood icons.
Only at the end of our conversation do I realize I barely asked him anything about the movies. And I read somewhere that he was quoted as saying that no matter what he does in life, he’ll never top being Meathead, the son-in-law in “All in the Family.” Does it annoy him that he could engage in so much other important work, but all anyone wants to talk about are his movies?
“I love making movies,” he says. “I love entertaining people. You get a lot of pleasure in helping people, but you also get a lot of pleasure in knowing you’ve given somebody pleasure.”
Weeks after we talk, his assistant e-mails to tell me Reiner left town to begin work — as an actor — on Martin Scorsese’s latest film, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” in which he will play a Long Island stockbroker who chooses prison time over cooperating with a securities fraud case. Oh, and his character also happens to be Leonardo DiCaprio’s father. But like Reiner said about the neighborhood where he grew up: “Jews and Italians are almost interchangeable.”
November 16, 2012 | 2:16 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Last week in Los Angeles, Leonard Cohen fell to his knees.
He did this a half-dozen times over the course of his three-hour show at the Nokia Theatre, because it’s all part of his act — and at 78, Cohen is not about to start trading off his trademark moves. He still wears that hippie-chic fedora, for instance, and hoveringly croons over the mic as if telling it a secret it will keep. But the knees are another matter.
With this stunning feat of agility at an age when others are walking with canes, the troubadour proved he is as nimble of body as he is poetic of mind. Only, these weren’t the falls of a young poet, laying himself bare in art and in love; this was the shimmering plunge of a long-lived man, humble and grateful before his fans. It was the fall of a man who knows that soon, he will not be able to rise again.
Barbra Streisand, on the other hand, playing to a sold-out Hollywood Bowl that same week, isn’t really the type for knee-dropping. Instead, the legendary diva did the most un-diva like thing: singing two nights in the wintry cold, compromising her costumes to stay warm inside her coat. Her 70-year-old voice, once unparalleled in pop music, is now softer and huskier and less likely to hit the high notes, but her performance was still grand — a feat of endurance, devotion and generosity (and plenty of Jewish schtick).
For two iconic entertainers, age is just a number and the show must go on. Even in the shadow of their younger, abler selves, Streisand and Cohen proved that time hasn’t re-written every line as much as it has offered a chance to repeat the best ones. After all, whose voice wouldn’t be a little tired after seven decades of so much to say?
Still, reality spun its mortal coil.
Cohen was frank with his audience from the start: Would this be the last time they meet? The implication was clear, and so he promised to give them everything he had. When he sang, “My friends are gone and my hair is gray /I ache in places I used to play,” it was impossible to hear those words as distant poetry and not personal confession. Cohen was singing his life, offering his prayers, writing his own epitaph.
“Reach into the vineyard of arteries for my heart / Eat the fruit of ignorance and share with me the mist and fragrance of dying,” he wrote in “The Spice Box of Earth.” As an aging lion with a storied past, he does not wish to retire or retreat, but to invite others to accompany him in old age. The love he never gave, he wants to give now.
“I had wonderful love, but I did not give back wonderful love,” he wistfully told a Swedish reporter in the 1990s, according to The New York Times. “I was obsessed with some fictional sense of separation. I couldn’t touch the thing that was offered me, and it was offered me everywhere.”
Growing old means admitting regret, and it has made his music more melancholy.
That sense of humility and authenticity was also evident during Streisand’s show, which felt a little like a living-room gathering but with nearly 18,000 friends. Streisand talked as much as she sang, reminiscing about time gone by (she recalled how it felt during her first Bowl performance, back in 1967, when she discovered Warren Beatty was in the audience) and shared the things that matter most to her (she sang a touching duet with her 45-year-old son, Jason Gould, and screened a video montage of mother-son photographs Jason had made for her 70th birthday). Her openness and candor offered a rare glimpse into her fiercely protected private life.
She also knew when she needed a break. And though she puffed up her absences with other “gorgeous” acts, they couldn’t compare. For the consummate perfectionist, there can be no changing of the guard (Really, who could possibly replace her?), but it was, perhaps for the first time, Streisand letting her guard down.
The personal, sermon-y style of her show seemed to be a tacit acknowledgement that if this wasn’t going to be her best performance, it would be her most intimate. She even took time to answer fan questions submitted to her Web site, and answered them with the same wit and verve that made Fanny Brice her “Funny Girl.”
More than 40 years after that role made her a star, Babs can still deliver a song that radiates with the full force of human emotion. As Stephen Holden wrote in The Times after her performance in Brooklyn last month: “Like few singers of any age, she has the gift of conveying a primal human longing” through sound.
One gift time has given to both Babs and Cohen is that their own primal need to be center stage has slackened. When once they needed to be stars, now they share their spotlight. As Cohen said, these are the days to reply to love, to give back some of the extraordinary blessings their talents wrought.
One way not to die, it seems, is to help others live. And to keep singing past that ephemeral peak until forced into silence.
November 11, 2012 | 2:51 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
There is a little known story that on the night filmmaker Stanley Kubrick died, director Steven Spielberg gathered some friends together and showed the final scene from Kubrick's 1957 film "Paths of Glory." He reportedly chose this particular scene because he believed it demonstrated an aspect of Kubrick's character that was more or less absent from his other work, and after seeing “Paths” at LACMA last night (part of a series of screenings being offered in conjunction with the new Kubrick exhibit), I can’t stop thinking about what this scene meant (though Kirk Douglas, the Clooney of his day, did a fine job of moving me to distraction).
In the final scene of the film, a gang of heathen soldiers, fresh from watching three of their comrades executed by firing squad, let loose at a local bar. Battered by battle and compromised by country, they have been reduced to sacrifices on the altar of patriotism. Their response is regression.
The soldiers are drinking and shouting raucously when a young farm girl is dragged out onto the stage for their entertainment (in the post WWII era, they are French and she is German). Tears streaming down her face, the men wildly catcall, jeer and jibe at her as the bar owner, clutching her possessively, offers her up for their amusement. Kubrick’s savvy eye saw the savagery of the battlefield echo in a supposedly civilized milieu.
Flustered and weeping, the farm girl summons the strength to sing for these brutes a mellifluous melody. She is like them; vulnerable, degraded, powerless. But she is also different: From the depths of her degradation and despair, she offers tenderness. And note by note, as if entranced, the savages become quieter and softer, allowing the sweetness of her voice and the intensity of her emotion to sweep them away. Slowly, soldiers begin to sing and men begin to cry. The nakedness of her pain cracks a hole in their hearts, and they open.
Though Kubrick's work is famous for its fatalism, this scene struck me as deeply religious. Men are not stone, Kubrick seems to be saying, and even beneath layers of hurt, confusion and corruption, humanity remains. The spark of God endures. When there is warmth, hearts turn toward the sun.
To watch, scroll to 3:12 in the below clip:
November 8, 2012 | 10:30 am
Posted by Danielle Berrin
It’s hard to read “The Richard Burton Diaries” without feeling just a tad envious.
His love with Liz, as Dwight Garner wrote recently in The New York Times, was “so robust you could nearly warm your hands on its flames.”
Although the legendary couple was hardly a paragon of marital virtue (they married twice and divorced twice, drank recklessly and fought fiendishly), they did form a beguiling blueprint for marital bliss.
On their first honeymoon, Burton cautioned himself: “Have to be careful. I might become idolatrous.” Years later, when they had been apart for a mere three days, he whined, “I miss her like food.”
For Burton, a vaunted actor with a literate mind who could buy jets and rubies on an exultant whim, Elizabeth Taylor was “the greatest luck” in an otherwise inordinately lucky life. Sure, their relationship was characterized by erratic behavior and emotional tumult, but Burton knew its merits outweighed its deficiencies: “She has turned me into a moral man,” he wrote in 1968. “[S]he is a wildly exciting lover-mistress … she is a brilliant actress, she is beautiful beyond the dreams of pornography … and she loves me!”
But such rapturous romance can be confounding for anyone who believes marriage should be about safety and stability. Never one-note, their relationship proved that sometimes the deepest love can come in a most chaotic package.
“Marriage doesn’t have to be a partnership of equals,” writer Ada Calhoun observed after reading the aptly titled Liz and Dick biography “Furious Love,” on which the upcoming Lifetime movie “Liz & Dick” is based. “It can be a bodice-ripping, booze-soaked, jewel-bedecked brawl that survives even death.”
It is the je ne sais quoi quality of the Taylor-Burton romance that author and speaker Esther Perel describes as eroticism. In her nearly three decades as a marriage-and-couples therapist, the Belgian-born Perel has learned a thing or two about how to sustain Liz-and-Dick desire over time. A self-professed sexuality expert, the Hebrew University and Oxford-educated guru is also the author of the internationally acclaimed book “Mating in Captivity,” which has been translated into 24 languages and seeks to answer the rub: “Why does great sex so often fade for couples who claim to love each other as much as ever?”
This is what Perel calls the crisis of modern love.
“How do you ask the same relationship to give you excitement and edge, novelty, adventure and risk, and, at the same time, give you security and predictability?” Perel said during an interview last week. (She will appear in conversation with me following Sinai Temple’s Friday Night Live service on Nov. 9.) “Whatever eroticism thrives on,” she added, “is what family life defends against.”
It isn’t exactly shocking that the need for secure love and the pursuit of passion can be antithetical: Love seeks comfort and familiarity; desire is about mystery and distance. Love is reliable; desire is unpredictable. Love prizes safety; desire thrives in danger. We yearn for what we imagine, not what we see.
“Emotional and erotic needs are quite different,” Perel explained, but when combined add up to “the ultimate adult relationship.”
For the first time in human history, couples are asking their monogamous relationships to satisfy not only biological and security needs, but also primal pleasure needs: the hungers, and longings, and yearnings that stir in their souls. This existential and philosophical challenge was unthinkable before women’s liberation, which granted sexual freedom; contraception, which liberated sex from the sole realm of biology; and the gay rights movement, which enabled the notion of sexuality as an identity.
But soul-shattering sex is not enough to end ennui. There are great marriages devoid of sex, and sex-filled marriages that are not erotic. “Eroticism is not about sex,” Perel said, though it demands that; rather, it is a sensibility, a worldview, that engages “our entire human drama.”
“It is the ultimate invitation of an other to be allowed to meet in those places of your being that go beyond words, beyond the civilized polished parts of ourselves. It is a level of intimacy that is unique. It is about maintaining a relationship that makes you feel alive.”
Somewhat surprisingly, Perel alighted on her theory as a consequence of growing up the daughter of Holocaust survivors. “When you’re the child of survivors, you never fully believe in security,” she said. “You live with the fear that everything can change from one minute to the next, that you can lose everything. And in response to that, some of us shut down.”
She wondered what would restore the desolate to life.
“What the body can express is way beyond what words can only hint at,” she said. It seems like an ironic comment from someone who counts reading Tolstoy as an erotic experience, but then, it is erotic in the way a nature-lover sees sublimity in a sunset. “A great writer creates through words an experience in our bodies,” she said.
True passion is a passion for the whole of life. It is lust for the fullness of the human experience. Even Burton admitted, “I am as thrilled by the English language as I am by a lovely woman or dreams.”
Burton teaches that passion begins in a single soul. It is the sacred and inviolable mystery of the human heart, a question seeking an answer. Burton found in Liz a partner in his quest. Their destination, always unknown.
“Passion comes with an amount of uncertainty that you can tolerate,” Perel said. “Can you live without it? Yes. But once you have known it, and it is absent from your life, do you long to go back there?
November 6, 2012 | 11:14 pm
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.
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."