Brett Ratner and Ben Silverman combined their powerful movie and TV forces to headline the Anti-Defamation League’s annual Entertainment Industry Dinner, reminding the the room full of Hollywood insiders that they are not uniquely in command of mass media.
“We are in a war,” Silverman said in referencing to ISIS’ use of mass media for terror. “This war (is) being fought on social media and through video, it’s co-opting our language.”
In the room to hear the message, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, Warner Bros. Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara, UTA’s Jim Berkus, producer Avi Lerner, and several non-Gina Rodriguez “Jane the Virgin” cast members filled the dramatically lit International Ballroom.
Previous honorees of the ADL include CBS’s Ph.D. Mayim Biyalik, Steven Spielberg, Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, Rob Lowe, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Bonnie Hammer, Jeff Gaspin, and Ryan Kavanaugh, who was in the room and seated between his wife and Michael Bolton.
“M.B.!” Silverman shouted as he approached the now close-cropped singer.
Silverman also discovered that his old pals at “The Office” (Greg Daniels and Paul Lieberstein) had shown up without telling him.
“That added a little bit of love to that (table) buy,” Silverman said.
There was a lot of love coming from Brett Ratner, coming across as surprisingly devout and deeply committed to his heritage.
While accepting his award, the “Rush Hour” director chanted in Yiddish, honored his great grandmother from Kiev, revealed his teen struggle between orthodox beliefs, McDonalds takeout, and his desire to kiss girls, and proved that were he not racking up box office, he would be giving the least boring High Holiday sermons in his native Miami Beach.
As for the Yiddish part, I… could not … understand … the words … coming out … of Brett Ratner’s mouth.
All good producers need to see who they can get in to a project, so which one of the superstar producer honorees got in on this double header first?
“They said ‘Would you guys want to do it together? We know you’re friends,” Silverman told TheWrap while shuffling between tables with a glass of water in hand and his now trademark green sneakers on his feet. “A little film, a little TV. It’s a perfect combination.”
Later, during an emotional 11-minute acceptance speech, Ratner stole the show.
“Because of this great honor, Nate ‘n Al’s has finally agreed to name a sandwich after me,” Ratner opened. “‘The Ratner’ will be rye bread, coleslaw, Russian dressing, and 196 pounds of tongue.”
From there, the prolific director and producer (he has Russell Crowe’s Australian Academy Award winning directorial debut releasing this Friday) had the room laughing as he himself broke down in tears at one point.
Ratner highlighted the colorful phases of his Jewish life: from growing up with his great grandmother born in 1898 as his childhood roommate until his Bar Mitzvah, his mom tagging along as a personal launderette while he chose high school in Israel, how he learned the hard way that “you can’t kiss girls in yeshiva”, and ultimately why his HBO documentary on the liberation of the concentration camps means more to him than the $2 billion in box office stemming from crowd pleasing catchphrases like the one referenced above.
“I still haven’t made my Nazi ass kicking movie, but I’m still younger than Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino, so give it time,” Ratner closed.
Afterwards, Tsujiahara and Brett’s RatPac partner James Packer congratulated the emotional honoree as the event broke up exceedingly early by charity dinner standards – 9 p.m. Nice work, ADL.
“I want to thank my partner who is here tonight, James Packer. Thanks to him, my dreams have come true and now I actually finance my own movies. Thank you, James.”
Australian billionaire Packer had a flight to Israel to catch later on Monday, where Ratner says Packer has recently become an Israeli citizen. “He lives next door to Bibi Netanyahu,” Ratner added.
The ADL goes out of its way to make the point that it is not just a single-issue group, but is acting as a “buman relations” agency. A montage of victims of intolerance, from Matthew Shephard to Daniel Pearl, set to a Yoko Ono-approved track of “Imagine” led the night.
Later, “Mr. Ratner and Mr. Silverman” got heartfelt thanks from a female Afghani teen who gained asylum in the Los Angeles only 18 months ago after escaping the Taliban. For security purposes, she could not be photographed.
In addition this humanitarian award, industry awards are lurking on the horizon again.
Silverman, already campaigning with “Jane the Virgin” at early Emmy nomination season events confirmed that they will be making a push for the CW breakout hit.
“We just gave (CW) their first Golden Globe, we got to give (them their) first Emmy,” Silverman responded to my question on whether he could be the first to deliver for CW chief Mark Pedowitz.
The night raised nearly $1 million.