Friday, August 15, 2014


Many years ago, when I first moved to Los Angeles, I had the good fortune of working for one of the biggest talent agencies in the world (at that time it was relatively small.)  I was in awe of all the celebrities I met as a result of my working there: Sean Connery, Michael Douglas, Danny DiVito. There were some celebrities I met, however, who were beyond memorable. Robin Williams was one.

My good friend and co-worker, Jane and I volunteered each Christmas to organize a party for the Foundation of the Junior Blind, a pet project of one of the agents. Weeks before Christmas we would call, beg, and cajole various celebrities into attending the party and performing to an audience of blind and partially blind children. Over the years we welcomed Don Knotts, Tony Danza, and Penny Marshall to name a few.

One year we decided to invite Robin Williams to the party. He was at the height of his popularity, starring in the hit show, Mork and Mindy.  We made several attempts to contact him on the phone (these were the days before texting, faxing, and the Internet) but could not get past his manager.

Finally, in desperation I sent Robin a telegram. (Yes, people still sent them)  I don't recall the wording of the poem but I think it ended by stating "the kids would be so grateful, "na-noo, na-noo" (words he often uttered on his show.) 

The night of the event arrived and we still hadn't heard from him so we assumed the party would go on with the celebrities who did show up.  Suddenly the door opened. A rather upset man with a scowl on his face (Robin's manager I was soon to learn) looked up and said, unpleasantly, "Who's Vivian?"  I stepped forward and a cheerful Robin Williams came over to shake my hand and Jane's and to thank us for inviting him.

Robin walked on stage to a thunder of applause.  He looked directly at the kids and said, "It's a pleasure to be here as you can see....oh no can't see!" We held our breaths waiting for the response to this quip.  The kids went wild, laughing and clapping at what he had just said.

They, and we, could feel the genuine affection he had for these children.

As he did for so many people, Robin Williams brought  joy into my life and into the lives of my family. Thank God we have him on film. He was a brilliantly funny, sweet, and generous man -- a treasure who will be greatly missed.

Friday, August 8, 2014


Lately, I have gotten into so many discussions, with people having varying opinions, about the recent conflict surrounding Gaza. What surprised me was how little knowledge many people have about the history of the area.

Since I try my best to avoid politics in my blogs (one rarely convinces a person holding an opposing view) I thought that rather than share my views, I would simply re-print some information from Wikipedia and from the Associated Press.

People are left to form their own opinions:

The Gaza Strip (/ˈɡɑːzəˈstrɪp/;[1] Arabic: قطاع غزةQiāʿ Ġazzah [qɪˈtˤɑːʕ ˈɣazza]), or simply Gaza, is an
exclave region of Palestine on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea that borders Egypt on the southwest for 11 kilometers (6.8 mi) and Israel on the east and north along a 51 km (32 mi) border. Gaza makes up part of the Palestinian territories which includes the West Bank and in 2012, the United Nations General Assembly "accorded Palestine non-Member Observer State status in the United Nations".[2]
In 1994, Israel granted the right of self-governance to Gaza through the Palestinian Authority. Prior to this, Gaza had been subject to military occupation, most recently by Israel (1967–94) and by Egypt (1948–67), and earlier by Great Britain (1918–48) and Turkey when Gaza had been part of the Ottoman Empire. Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has been de-facto governed by Hamas, a Palestinian group claiming to be the representatives of the Palestinian National Authority and the Palestinian people. Gaza forms a part of the Palestinian territory defined in the Oslo Agreements and UNSC Resolution 1860.[3]

The Gaza Strip acquired its current northern and eastern boundaries at the cessation of fighting in the 1948 war, confirmed by the Israel–Egypt Armistice Agreement on 24 February 1949.[8] Article V of the Agreement declared that the demarcation line was not to be an international border. At first the Gaza Strip was officially administered by the All-Palestine Government, established by the Arab League in September 1948. All-Palestine in the Gaza Strip was managed under the military authority of Egypt, functioning as puppet state, until it officially merged into the United Arab Republic and dissolved in 1959. From the time of the dissolution of the All-Palestine Government until 1967, the Gaza Strip was directly administered by an Egyptian military governor. Israel captured the Gaza Strip from Egypt in the Six-Day War in 1967. Pursuant to the Oslo Accords signed in 1993, the Palestinian Authority became the administrative body that governed Palestinian population centers while Israel maintained control of the airspace, territorial waters and border crossings with the exception of the land border with Egypt. In 2005, Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip under their unilateral disengagement plan. In July 2007, following the 2006 Palestinian legislative election and the Hamas takeover in 2007, Hamas had functioned as the de facto ruler in the Gaza Strip, forming an alternative Hamas Government in Gaza.

In 2014, following reconciliation talks, Hamas and Fatah formed a Palestinian unity government within the State of Palestine. Rami Hamdallah became the coalition's Prime Minister and has planned for elections in Gaza and the West Bank.[9] In July 2014, a set of lethal incidents between Hamas and Israel led to the Israeli military launching Operation Protective Edge.

Today’s News: (8/8/14)
Israel resumed strikes on targets in Gaza in response to rocket fire from the area shortly after the expiration of a cease-fire between Israel and the terror group Hamas, Israeli military officials said Friday.
The renewed violence threw the Cairo talks on a broader deal into doubt. Hamas officials said they are ready to continue talks, but Israel's government spokesman said Israel will not negotiate under fire.
Hamas wants Israel to open Gaza's borders, following a seven-year closure also enforced by Egypt, but Israel says it will only do so if the Islamic militants disarm or are prevented from re-arming. Hamas has insisted it will never give up its arms.
The rockets appeared to have been an attempt by Hamas to exert pressure on Israel without triggering a major escalation. Smaller Gaza groups claimed responsibility, while there was no word from Hamas rocket squads.
However, Israel said it will not negotiate under such terms.
"When Hamas broke the cease-fire, when Hamas launched rockets and mortar shells at Israel, they broke the premise of the talks," said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev, adding that "there will not be negotiations under fire."
Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade after the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, and have since enforced it to varying degrees.
The closure led to widespread hardship in the Mediterranean seaside territory, home to 1.8 million people. Movement in and out of Gaza is limited, the economy has ground to a standstill and unemployment is over 50 percent.
Israel argues that it needs to keep Gaza's borders under a blockade as long as Hamas tries to smuggle weapons into Gaza or manufactures them there.
The militant group has said it is willing to hand over some power in Gaza to enable its long-time rival, Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, to lead reconstruction efforts, but that it would not give up its arsenal and control over thousands of armed men.
The Gaza war grew out of the killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank in June. Israel blamed the killings on Hamas and launched a massive arrest campaign, rounding up hundreds of the group's members in the West Bank, as Hamas and other militants unleashed rocket fire from Gaza.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.