Friday, February 23, 2007

Francine LeFrak

I’ve known Francine LeFrak for a number of years now. When we first met, she divided her time between New York and a house up behind the Chateau Marmont in the Hollywood hills where she did a lot of her film production business. Daughter of the recently departed real estate tycoon Sam, sister of his appointed successor, Richard, she’s a familiar face on the New York social scene with her husband Rick Friedberg, a political personage who’s been active in more than one mayoral administration in the city.

Francine has produced eleven films for television over the past twelve years including: “Prison Stories: Women on the Inside” (HBO), “Shot Through the Heart” (HBO, Peabody Award winner), “Blood Brothers: The Joey DiPaolo Story” (HBO). She’s made a reputation making award-winning movies that focus on “social issues of global significance.”

She’s also produced some plays and musicals on Broadway (“Children of a Lesser God," “They’re Playing Our Song” – London production), etc. Plus she’s an active fundraiser for certain charities as well as an active
strategic planner in community organizations.

Last June, she was in Paris and Versailles for the inauguration and dedication of the Bosquets Trois Fontaines (see NYSD 6/11 through 6/21), on which she served as a co-chair and fund-raiser. She’s another one of those New York girls who do a lot, get a lot done and have time for more. She and her husband are very involved with raising millions for the Christopher Reeve Foundation.

A lot of charitable rosters feature prominent names, many of whom donate or at least lend their name to attract donations. Francine LeFrak isn’t happy with just that. She likes the hands-on. She likes building the bridges. Someone told me she’s a chip off the old block, much like her dear departed dad.

A few months ago she started a new business that is synergistic with her producer’s activities. Producers do a lot of waiting around for phone calls. Francine knows the game but is not one to sit still. The world is at her feet. She knows this. She needs to be using her skills in the wait time. It has occurred to her over the years that through her experience and professional and social activities, she’s created a vast well of resources – people she can call for all kinds of advice, input, influences. People who wield all kinds of creative, financial and political influence. People who can be useful to others, who can have an effect, make a difference. She knows that’s how the world works. She also knows from experience that one of the biggest problems people have with an “idea” is getting it started, putting it into play.

So, she started a consulting business called LeFrak Access to assist people with “high level introductions, strategic planning and unique enhancement services.” The objective reads like this: “LeFrak Access will analyze your true aspirations and then conceptualize strategies to bring them to life by connecting you to the best and brightest in every discipline. For philanthropies, LeFrak Access will leverage charitable dollars through access to advisors, celebrities and corporate sponsors.”

“New York,” Eleanor Lambert once said, “is a city where, if you have an idea, you can find someone to share it with.”

Francine is one of those rare industrious individuals who has built a professional life based on connections and relationships. She knows just exactly who those are who want to “share those ideas.” She knows how to organize, strategize and “share those ideas.” Her mission with LeFrak Access is to put it to effect.

“Give us your wish list and we’ll get you connected.” That could be the company motto.