Davis Guggenheim wasn’t raised Jewish, and he has long had trouble understanding what Israel means to him. But when he traveled there last month with a delegation of fellow entertainment decision makers, the director-producer realized instantly the centrality of Israel not just to his own life but to all humanity.
“It happens the minute you step off the plane: You just start to feel the history that has taken place there; the sense of time and history and the scale of human events is so huge, and it is easier to see your place in it,” said Guggenheim, who was an executive producer of “Training Day” and director and executive producer of “An Inconvenient Truth.” “In L.A., the scale of history is so short and miniscule and confusing because you don’t have any references of time and place. [Israel] feels like the nexus of history and the nexus of everything that is good about the future and everything that is potentially cataclysmic.”
Guggenheim was joined by former Paramount Pictures president Donald DeLine; George Freeman of the William Morris Agency; Nina Jacobson, former president of the Walt Disney Motion Picture Group; Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and her husband, former New York Times writer Bernard Weinraub; and Brad Silberling, director of “Lemony Snicket’s: A Series of Unfortunate Events.” Sponsored by talent agent David Lonner and The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, the delegation of Hollywood heavy hitters landed in Tel Aviv the Friday before Thanksgiving, on the eve of the Annapolis peace conference, which added a bit of salience to their helicopter tour of the tiny slice of Mediterranean desert.
Here is the rest of this story I had in this week’s Jewish Journal. I wrote earlier this year about how Hollywood Jews are becoming a bit more comfortable publicly supporting Israel. Lonner, who is co-head of the motion picture department at the William Morris Agency, and former Consul General Ehud Danoch deserve a lot of credit for that.