Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Setting the stage

Full moon over Manhattan. 8:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, December 14, 2016. Not so cold out there, yesterday, low 40s. Heavy grey skies, the kind that look like snow may be coming. It didn’t. The weatherman now says Friday and maybe Saturday.

This is the last week or so of heavy activity among the social set. I started out Monday night at Tree Bistro on First Avenue between 11th and 12th for a book party for my friend Philip Carlson’s “Breaking and Entering: From Auditions to Agents to a Career.”  This is a Show Business story and as fascinating as any Show Business/actor’s story except for one thing: It’s about Business. The Business of Getting There.
Philip Carlson and Jennifer Rockwood. Click to order.
Philip and I are old friends. We met in the mid-60s when we were both actors. I was mainly aspiring at the time and after a very few years of  getting nowhere much, I lost the aspiration, thankfully. Philip, however, went on to have a very successful early career here in New York and then went to Hollywood under contract to Universal. This was back in the days when some studios still signed an actor to an annual contract. After a few years out there he came back to New York and left his acting career behind and became an agent where he had a very successful career.

He specialized in developing careers. Among those who started with him were Philip Seymour Hoffman, Billy Crudup, Liev Schreiber, Claire Danes, Adrian Grenier, Kyra Sedgwick, Idris Elba, Paul Giamatti, Viola Davis, W. H. Macy, Kathy Bates and Brian Dennehy. He left his successful career behind about fifteen years ago when his wife Leslie Revsin, who was one of the first prominent woman chef’s in New York, became ill with cancer, and the couple moved out to Seattle where they could live closer to her daughter.
Lois Smith and Philip Carlson.
Leslie died in 2004, and Philip returned to New York. He decided instead of getting back into the agency business, he wanted to write and to teach aspiring actors. The result of this change was teaching people How to get into the Business as an actor and succeed. He went to work for the Atlantic Acting School here in New York. His classes were a big hit. So big that today he personally consults and gives seminars in acting schools here in New York and at universities across the country.

This book is the result of his work. The plaudits are in. J. Michael Miller, co-founder of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, says “Breaking and Entering ...” is “required reading for every acting student in search of a meaningful career. Liev Schreiber said about his time with Philip as agent, “I was so fortunate to have found Philip when I did. I can’t imagine a better introduction to the world of acting and the business of getting there.”
The scene at Tree Bistro for Philip's book party.
Now, what I personally like about this book, and why I would recommend it as fascinating and even entertaining reader for anyone with a great interest in Show Business — Film, Television, Theatre, and of course an Acting career. So, if you have a child, a brother, or a sister or even a mother or a father who are actors, aspiring or otherwise ... this is a book not only them to read, but for you, too. It brings insight, shrewdness and the realities of one of the most entrepreneurial businesses in modern history.
Sasha Lloyd and James Francis Ginty.
Caroline Daughters and Matt Servitto.
Cindy Ginsburg.
Robin Bronstein and Kristan Andersen Bronstein.
Judy Dennis, Chris Ryan, and Joanna Merlin.
After leaving Philip’s party at Tree Bistro, I hoped a cab to go back uptown to the Pierre where the American Friends of The Open University of Israel was hosting their 2016 Gala Celebration, honoring Rochelle Hirsch and Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman.

Rochelle Hirsch holds a special place in my consciousness. She is the mother of my esteemed NYSD partner Jeff Hirsch and she is also a kind gentle woman who takes a very active interest in education of children. Quoting the Bill Gates Foundation in her speech, she pointed out that “The first five years of a child’s life have so much to do with how the next 80 turn out,” adding that “academic skills, critical thinking ans social skills learned by age of five set the stage for the rest of their lives.”
Naomi Hass-Perlman, Ingeborg Rennert, Rochelle Hirsch, and Stefanie Hirsch.
Rochelle is the Founder and Chairman of the Creative Playschool at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue. For the past 25 years under her leadership, the school has grown from one tiny classroom to the sought after school program that exists today.

She is also the author of “Lumps and Bumps,” a comforting breast cancer story written for young children. She wrote it (as a breast cancer survivor) to address the unfortunate impact breast cancer has on a family. Her husband David is President of the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic. Together the couple are involved in a variety of philanthropies.
Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, Ingeborg Rennert, and Naomi Hass-Perlman.
The other honoree of the evening, Rabbi Grossman is a sixth generation Jerusalemite, born in 1946. After the Six Day War in 1968, Rabbi Grossman moved to the Lower Galilee town of Migdal Ha-Emek to provide sorely needed socio-humanitarian aid. The town had been established in 1953 as a development to accommodate part of the great influx of Jewish migrants from North African countries. Its fast growth under the circumstances created a dearth of jobs and lack of sufficient school facilities as well as teachers, and the effect of it was devastating – the town quickly became known as one of the prime centers of criminal activity in Israel.
Cocktails and buffet dinner at the Pierre.
Rabbi Grossman took up conversation in the streets with the idle youth hanging out. He was a steady visitor to the town’s discos and pubs, engaging the young clientele in dialogue. He became known as the “Disco Rabbi.” After gaining their confidence, he began organizing private classes for them. In 1972, the foundations were laid for the opening of the Migdal Ohr Youth Village, now home to nearly 6000 children at risk. The Migdal Ohr also serves 6000 disadvantaged youth at two other campuses as well as 160 youth clubs. 

In 2009 Rabbi Grossman was awarded the Caring Institute’s International Humanitarian of the Year. In 2014 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Distinction, which was presented to him by Israel’s President Shimon Peres.
Robert and Nancy Englander, Wendy Fisher and Dennis Goodman, Mimi Perlman, Joe and Hadassah Lieberman and friends.
The Open University of Israel (OUI) offers a unique combination of cutting-edge distance learning methods, with rigorous academic standards and an open admissions policy. OUI students include young adults who need to work fulltime, soldiers on active duty, gifted high school students, professionals seeking higher degrees, ultra-Orthodox Haredi men and women as well as Druze, Christians and Muslim Arabs. It offers its 46,000 students more than 600 courses in accredited Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs. All are designed as self-directed study materials, with written texts supplemented by advanced technologies including interactive websites for all their course, making it possible for OUI students to study anytime, anywhere.

The evening was organized by Ingeborg Rennert, President of the American Friend of the Open University of Israel.
Marion Wiesel, Wendy Fisher, and Simcha Stern.
Robert Hadi and Armand Lindenbaum.
David and Rochelle Hirsch with Michael and Cheryl Minikes.
David Stern, Lili Stawski, and Jason Hirsch.
Sheila Richmond, Rachel Cooper, and Wendy Zizmor.
Dr. Samuel Waxman and Marion Waxman.
Ilene Pacum, Bernice Schwartz, and Marion Waxman.
Roz Nessis, Batyah Kahane-Hyman, Oscar Gluck, and Susan Ascher.
Steven Stern and Richard Hirsch. David Meyer and Paulette Stein Meyer.
Rochelle Hirsch, Arlene Doft, and Lili Stawski.
Mary Rozan. Lisa Babich and Rabbi Eli Babich.
Ira Fox, Jessica Jacobs, Bernice Schwartz, Gabriella Jacobs, and Benjamin Kalmanoscz.
Morris Platt, Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, Cantor Joseph Malovany, and Rivka Platt.
Michael and Carol Friedman with Beth Nussbaum.
Michal Grayevsky, Malcolm Hoenlein, and Ayelet Vardi.
Lee Maslansky, Beatrice Malovany, Cantor Joseph Malovany, and Dr. Elizabeth Muss.
David Hirsch, Rochelle Hirsch, and Professor Toby Metzer.
Dr. William Schwartz and Bernice Schwartz.
Dr. Marc Zimbler and Gail Propp. Jason Hirsch and Dr. Nancy Xu.
Elaine Wolfensohn and Danielle Spivak.
Michael Melka, Ayelet Vardi, and George Perlman.
Jane and Bernie Post.
Rhetta Felton and Bonnie Stern.
Joan Schapiro.
Adam Cooper, Bradley Cooper, Jeffrey Hirsch, Jessica Hirsch, Adam Hirsch, and Danielle Hirsch.
Standing: Daniel and Carolyn Hirsch, Elaine and Richard Hirsch, David and Rochelle Hirsch, Adam Hirsch, and Stefanie and Patrick Hirsch Coyle. Sitting: Danielle Hirsch, Judy and Ed Prager, and Jessica Hirsch.
The Hirsch/Friedman/Cooper clan.

Photographs by Annie Watt (AFOUI)

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