- "Hollywood is run by Jews; it is owned by Jews--and
they should have a greater sensitivity about the issue of people who are
suffering. Because...we have seen...the greaseball, we've seen the Chink,
we've seen the slit-eyed dangerous Jap, we have seen the wily Filipino,
we've seen everything but we never saw the kike. Because they knew perfectly
well, that that is where you draw the [line]."
--Marlon Brando on Larry King Live
- A few days after Marlon Brando scandalized the airwaves
by referring to the Jews who worked in Hollywood as "kikes,"
I got a call from an editor at 60 Minutes. The woman wanted to know how
I felt about Brando's use of words and his allegation that Hollywood is
"run by Jews."
- She suggested the desired answer by noting that her researchers
had conclusively proven that Jews do not run Hollywood.
- Crafty 60 Minutes had studied the top slots in town.
Their research showed that "only" about 60 percent of the most
important positions in Hollywood were run by Jews. What did I think?
- I managed to disqualify myself by saying that while Hollywood
was not really "run" by anyone (it's far too chaotic for that),
if Jews were about 2.5 percent of the population and were about 60 percent
of Hollywood, they might well be said to be extremely predominant in that
- That was far too logical and un-PC an answer, and I never
heard from her again.
- But Jews are a big part of my thoughts (as they are of
every Jew's thoughts). Plus, I live and struggle in Hollywood, so the combination
intrigues me. What exactly is the role of the Jew in Hollywood? More to
the point, what does it signify, if anything, if Jews have a big role?
And, most interesting of all, why do we care?
- First, it is extremely clear to anyone in Hollywood that
Jews are, so to speak, "in charge" in Hollywood in a way that
is not duplicated in any other large business, except maybe garments or
scrap metal or folding boxes.
- At mighty Paramount, the controlling stockholder is Sumner
Redstone. Head of the studio is Jon Dolgen. Head of production is Sherry
Lansing--all members of the tribe.
- At titanic Disney, the CEO is Michael Eisner, the world's
most assimilated Jew, who might as well be a Presbyterian. Deputy head
is Michael Ovitz, karate champ but also a Jew. Head of the studio is Joe
- At newly energized ICM, the top dogs are Jeff Berg and
Jim Wiatt. At still overwhelming CAA, Jack Rapke and other members of my
faith predominate. At William Morris, Jon Burnham and other Jews are, by
and large, in the power positions.
- This has always been true in Hollywood. The ex-furriers
who created Hollywood were Eastern European Jewish immigrants, and all
of the great edifice of fantasy-making in Hollywood is their handiwork.
Names like Zukor and Lasky and Goldwyn and Cohn are the foundation of mass
culture in America and the world.
- There is a much quoted note that it took all these Eastern
European Yiddish-speaking Jews to create the lasting, worldwide image of
America and what America is--the mass culture mirror that America likes
to hold up to its face.
- This thought is made concrete by the simple line at the
beginning of Gone with the Wind that it is "A David O. Selznick Production."
It took a Selznick, married to the daughter of a Louis B. Mayer, working
with a Thalberg, to create the ultimate vision of romantic America--the
- It took a Jew--Leslie Howard--to play Ashley Wilkes,
the bedrock image of what a perfect American gentleman is supposed to be.
- Thus, the fact of Hollywood's being very largely Jewish
is not exactly news. The news is that Hollywood is rapidly becoming ethnically
far more diverse than it was only a couple of decades ago, when I first
- You can take it from the studio level, where probably
the most powerful man in town is of the Australian faith--one Rupert Murdoch
by name. Murdoch, no one's idea of a Jew, controls a major studio, a major
broadcast network and the largest aggregation of TV stations in America.
- The head of programming at ABC is a full-on gentile,
Ted Harbert. The owner and head of production of what has become the Tiffany
studio, MGM, are Kirk Kerkorian and Frank Mancuso, also not members of
Temple Israel. And on and on.
- It is certainly true that there have always been goyim
- But there are more gentiles in the Industry now, and
there has formed a whole new route to Hollywood.
- No longer do young men and women work their way up solely
by being mailroom clerks or nephews of producers or offspring of men in
the linen-supply business.
- The standard route to Hollywood now is through Harvard
and Yale. Sitcom writers and producers, movie scriptwriters and producers
now come from the Ivy League far more than from the streets of Brooklyn.
Most of the writing staff of the powerhouse Seinfeld is from the Harvard
- So are many of the writers on Married...with Children,
Friends and other stalwarts of the box. The route from Harvard Square to
Hollywood is now hallowed by success and money. In fact, the agencies now
beg and plead for Harvard Lampoon grads the way they once cried for the
writers of The Jack Benny Radio Program.
- This change from borscht-belt origins to the halls of
Harvard as a prime source of writing talent in Hollywood is a quantum shift.
Many of the Harvard and Yale alums are, to be sure, Jews, but many are
- Now, this is interesting to those of us who work here.
But it is of no significance at all to the 99.9 percent of Americans who
- The only possible significance of whether Hollywood is
run by Jews or not must have to do with whether or not the product comes
out "Jewish," or in some way different from the way it would
if it were made solely by gentiles.
- Really, the point is even a little uglier than that.
The only real reason why the question of whether Jews "run" Hollywood
is at all interesting is because there is some residual thought--apparently
as was in the mind of Marlon Brando--that Jews are sinister and alien.
- Kike is a low Polish word meaning the nastiest, most
alien connotation of Jew. That would mean that the Jewish product of Jewish
Hollywood would be somehow subversive in some way. This would be akin to
Wagner's notion that Jews had polluted and ruined German music with their
innately subversive sensibility.
- This is a thought so bizarre and even comical to anyone
familiar with Hollywood that it merits laughter more than fear. Yes, of
course, the Hollywood product is made mostly by Jews. But these Jews are
in love with America.
- These are Jews who want to play polo, not davvinn in
shul. These are Jews whose children play soccer and learn horseback riding
- These Jews, as soon as they have two million to rub together,
buy farms in South Carolina (Joel Silver) or vast spreads in Colorado (Peter
- It was the Jews of the '30s and '40s who gave us the
vision of America the Good, where money did not count--only goodness. Think
of the works of William Wyler (maker of the ultimate pro-American heartstrings
movie, The Best Years of Our Lives), or of MGM and its celebration of the
swinging good life of Ginger and Fred.
- Where does the idea come from of the perfect American
family, occasionally quarreling mildly but ultimately working it all out
in love and affection? From Ozzie and Harriet and Leave It to Beaver and
I Love Lucy, with their largely Jewish writers and producers.
- Where does the idea come from that parents and children,
as polarized as they might be, will ultimately love each other? From Norman
Lear and his factory for grinding out funny and touching affirmations of
domestic life in America.
- Where does the idea that blacks can be funny and endearing
as millionaires and not just as servants and wide-eyed fools fleeing ghosts?
Again, from Norman Lear and The Jeffersons.
- Hollywood's current product occasionally repels and even
sickens me. I am truly disgusted with its language, its violence, its endless
attacks on businessmen and military officers. (On the other hand, it never
can attack the CIA enough for me.)
- But these are eddies and ripples in the vast tide of
Hollywood messages that encourage and hearten us in our daily struggle.
- Many Americans get this message far more from Hollywood
than from worship, and these are by no means subversive messages.
- So now, as the shrinks say, we may perhaps to begin.
- If any overall view of the Hollywood product shows it
has been a wholesome influence on American life, why is Hollywood itself
still so not trusted?
- Why can a Marlon Brando attack it so explicitly for its
Jewishness and a Dan Quayle and even a Bob Dole and even a Bill Clinton
attack it on an ongoing basis for its alleged sinister quality?
- I marvel that when people criticize the auto industry
for making trucks that catch fire when they are struck and cars that turn
over on a turn, no one ever says "the gentile auto industry."
No one calls the pharmaceutical industry sinister or attacks it as alien
even though it turns out a lot of pills that addict people.
- As far as I can recall, Hollywood, and only Hollywood,
gets the treatment as being somehow sinister and alien.
- Other industries are bad--like big tobacco--but only
Hollywood is un-American, even though its product kills a lot fewer Americans.
- It's hard to resist the thought that there are only two
explanations for this:
- * Envy. Life in Hollywood is thought to be fun, well-paid,
glamorous and sexy. Naturally, many people sitting in cheerless offices
in D.C. or elsewhere want to be in the seat where the mighty of Hollywood
sit. Because they have no idea of how to get there, they express envy and
criticism of the people who are there.
- * Plain old primitive anti-Semitism. About two years
ago, as I was having lunch at the Spokane airport, an obviously somewhat
off waitress recognized me from my modest acting work and said she had
once seen "that Jewish woman with the big nose and the great voice"
and did I know her?
- "Do you mean Barbra Streisand?" I asked.
- Without missing a beat, she asked, "Say, do the
Japanese control Hollywood, or do you people still run it?"
- It's fear and racism at that level that motivates the
issue of Hollywood as sinister and alien. Maybe it's so basic when it comes
to Jews that it just will never go away. Or maybe it will take so long
to go away that Hollywood will be Korean by then.
- For now, Hollywood, in many ways the most successful
cultural enterprise of all time and the most potent messenger of American
values of all time, is changing, but it is still largely Jewish. And a
very angry voice in my curly head makes me add, "What the hell of
- An excellent book on the Jewish influence in the Hollywood
film industry is "How The Jews Invented Hollywood" by Neal Gabler.