Celebs lend names, power to ad supporting Israel

Any Hollywood producer would give his right arm to work with the stars listed in a full-page advertisement published recently in the Los Angeles Times, among them Nicole Kidman, Bruce Willis, Michael Douglas, Sylvester Stallone, Millie Perkins, Danny DeVito, William Hurt, James Woods and Gary Sinise.

The list isn’t the cast of an upcoming blockbuster, but a plea by Hollywood elite to back the fight against Hezbollah, Hamas and worldwide terrorism.

The ad, which has resonated across the global entertainment industry with additional placements in trade publications Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, describes its signatories as “pained and devastated by the civilian casualties in Israel and Lebanon caused by terrorist actions initiated by terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

“We need to support democratic societies and stop terrorism at all costs,” the petition adds.

The wording may not be forceful by Anti-Defamation League standards, but for Hollywood, which has often remained silent in the face of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel attacks, the statement was a bit of a bombshell.

Signatory Lionel Chetwynd, a television writer and producer, said, “I’ve been around here for a long time, and I can’t remember a time when so many people in the industry stood up for Israel.”

While the mix of Oscar winners and celebrity magazine fixtures on the petition has caught the attention of film fans around the world, Hollywood insiders have been most impressed by the inclusion of some of the men and women who wield the real power and influence in Tinseltown.

Mega-media moguls Rupert Murdoch, Sumner Redstone and Haim Saban each signed on to the petition, as did studio heads Amy Pascal, Ron Meyer and Meyer Gottlieb.

In a professional class by herself was tennis star Serena Williams.

The project was initiated by Ehud Danoch, Israel’s consul general in Los Angeles, who has made the entertainment industry a special concern.

Danoch and his early partners on the project assumed that the ad would carry no more than 50 or 60 signatures. But the names kept coming in, until the organizers had to close the list at 84 names.

Israeli Danny Dimbort, co-chairman of the Nu Image production company, contacted 28 people. Most signed on, he said, though “some were scared to do so.”

His company also paid for the full-page ad in the national and international news section of the L.A. Times — at a cost of $117,132, according to the paper’s advertising department.

Gottlieb, president of Samuel Goldwyn Films, said he received only positive feedback, with friends telling him they were moved by the ad. Some even chided him for not inviting them to sign the statement.

Tom Tugend

JTA Los Angeles correspondent