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Engaging Hollywood With World Policy

Donna Bojarsky’s Foreign Policy Roundtable aims to get Hollywood thinking about global affairs.

Not everyone in Hollywood is talking about Oscar contenders these days.

Donna Bojarsky, through her Foreign Policy Roundtable, is encouraging the industry’s leaders to learn about global affairs and to consider the role of U.S. leadership in the world.
At her invitation-only salons, political consultant Bojarsky brings together such high-powered speakers as Fareed Zakaria and Thomas Friedman with Hollywood types eager to learn about what’s going on in the world today.
“Hollywood is a very important constituency,” Bojarsky told TheWrap. The FPR is “all about engagement, putting things in the conversation loop of industry people.”
The goal of the organization is to “inspire, engage and educate about foreign policy,” she explained.
Each gathering is hosted by a different person, who brings in his or her contacts to the core group. Bojarsky tries to match the host’s interests to the evening’s topic.
Wednesday night’s gathering, for instance, will focus on Afghanistan. Guest speakers represent InterNews, a group whose goal is to create a free press in conflict zones. The hosts are entertainment lawyers at Ziffren Brittenham Branca et al.
Previous events include one hosted by J.J. Abrams and his wife, shortly before the Beijing Olympics. Abrams had recently shot in the country, and his wife was interested in it, Bojarsky said, so she paired them with Victor Yuan, a pollster and businessman in China.
“It gave me a completely different view of the Olympics than I would have had,” Bojarsky said of that evening.
Another event, hosted by Peter Chernin, “crystallized an ongoing interest he had in Africa,” Bojarsky said; he’s a member of the board of directors of Malaria No More. At that event, one agent was so excited that he wrote a $10,000 check then and there to buy mosquito netting, she said.
FPR aims to inspire philanthropy and advocacy among participants, but it also hopes to motivate them to include in their films or TV shows direct stories or messages about engagement with the world and foreign affairs.
As FPR has been in existence for only about a year, Bojarsky said, she couldn’t yet point to any examples of such projects.
But people have thanked her for opening their eyes to important issues and for changing the way they think about global policy and areas such as the Middle East.
“Even in this milieu, to have someone say they’ve changed their thinking, that has a real impact,” Bojarsky said. “They then can have a direct influence in their daily routines.”