January 17, 2008
KCRW gives us ‘The Business’
(Page 2 - Previous Page)He wanted a conversion that would be accepted by the Orthodox, and his journey led him to Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky of B'nai David-Judea, who became his sponsoring rabbi, performed the marriage and to whose Modern Orthodox congregation the family now belongs.
He says his wife jokes that "her punishment for dating a Catholic boy is living an Orthodox life." They are Sabbath observant, keep kosher and Brodesser-Akner now sports a multicolored kippah.
He says that although being observant is not always easy, "it is worth it." As someone who used to work all the time, Brodesser-Akner is grateful for the respite of Sabbath. But it is the feeling of community -- of belonging and caring -- that he has experienced as part of B'nai David-Judea that seems to have most deeply impressed him.
Brodesser-Akner explained that although he has lived in a great variety of neighborhoods in Los Angeles and was a very social person, it was only as part of his temple that he experienced a deeper level of community, where each member is cared for. Brodesser-Akner spoke movingly about the visitation schedule organized for a sick elderly congregant and about the attention and care he and his wife received recently in the weeks after their first child was born.
In this last year, Brodesser-Akner also joined Advertising Age as Los Angeles bureau chief, reporting on the entertainment industry (he left Variety in 2005 and worked for FishbowLA, a mediabistro blog, and wrote for Los Angeles magazine, before being poached for the launch of TMZ.com in 2006, where he lasted a year).
He finds himself at Ad Age at a moment when the industry is in turmoil and the worlds of advertising and entertainment are increasingly converging. To what end, it is hard to say -- but that gives him plenty to report and comment upon.
For example, Brodesser-Akner views the Writers Guild strike as "disastrous," not because the writers' cause is without merit, but rather because they are so overmatched by the conglomerates that own the studios and networks that he "doesn't see this ending well." He notes the folly of an industry that claims it can't afford to pay writers, while remaining hostage to star salaries and profit participations.
As for the Oscars, Brodesser-Akner reminded me that last year, fewer than 11 percent of the audience had seen the nominated films. Evidence, he feels, of the disconnect between mega-audience movies and films winning honors.
On the taping of "The Business" that I watched being produced, which aired Jan. 14, the discussion focused on a growing trend to loosen copyright protection on music, as well as an acknowledgement that independent films, such as "The Kite Runner," might suffer at the box office without award shows, such as "The Golden Globes," for promotion and publicity.
At the start of our conversation, Brodesser-Akner joked that he had converted to Judaism for the heavy food and self-deprecating humor. But let me take a more Jesuitical -- I mean talmudic -- approach: Perhaps he did it for the questions. Because, the only thing we know for sure about the entertainment business, based on the past, is that whatever occurs, there will be plenty of questions.
So, beyond the strike and the Oscars remain the questions: Where is the culture going? What will we watch, listen to or play? And on what will we see and hear it? How will it be financed? What will pay for it: hedge funds, product placement, advertising sponsors or Internet ads?
If these questions intrigue you, then the answer is simple. Tune in to Brodesser-Akner for "The Business."
Tom Teicholz is a film producer in Los Angeles. Everywhere else, he's an author and journalist who has written for The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Interview and The Forward. His column appears every other week.
1 | 2