The Circuit

Dinners Party

Literary Odyssey Dinners, a unique fundraiser which arranges 50 dinners with renowned authors in private homes to benefit the Los Angeles Public Library’s Reading Programs for Children and Teens, held its kickoff party at The Peninsula in Beverly Hills.

Speakers Larry Gelbart, Traci Lambrecht and John Sacret Young were among the authors in attendance.

The 50 dinners will begin on Nov. 3. Among the hosts who will open up their homes are Wallis Annenberg, Judith and Steve Krantz, Mary and Norman Pattiz, and Liane and Richard Weintraub. This year’s stable of participating authors will include: Laurence Bergreen, Michael Crichton, Susan Fales-Hill, Richard Reeves, Lisa See and Garry Willis.

Lauded with Laws

Philanthropist-entrepreneur Peter Gold and Judge Harry Pregerson were both awarded honorary doctor of laws degrees at the 88th commencement ceremonies of Southwestern University School of Law, held at the Shrine Auditorium.

Joy Book Club

Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy elementary school students donated 24 copies of David Saltzman’s “The Jester Has Lost Its Jingle” children’s books and 18 Jester and Pharley dolls to young patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Cedars-Sinai child life specialist Joanne Borromeo accepted the donation at a Harkham Hillel special assembly.

Pulpit Pupil

Congregation Beth Meier of Studio City announced the appointment of Rabbi Aaron Benson. The 27-year-old Benson, who has served as a rabbinic intern with the shul for the past three years, was ordained by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies this past May.

Brandeis Benefit

The Brandeis-Bardin Institute honored longtime participants Ellie and Gil Somerfield during their annual dinner at The Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Rabbi Lee Bycel gave the keynote address and the event was co-chaired by Vicki Kupetz, Laurie Cohen and Caren Sokol. Board Chair Helen Zukin presented the honorees with a tzedakah box.

Technion Talk

David Horovitz, left, editor of The Jerusalem Report, with Rob Eshman, editor-in-chief of The Jewish Journal, at the American Techion Society’s May 18 event at the Four Seasons.

Land of Magbit and Honey

When Magbit Foundation of Greater Los Angeles celebrated the 55th Israel Independence Day at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, it was slightly different from previous years.

Last year, Magbit raised $3.5 million for the victims of war and terror in Israel and a delegation from Magbit handed the money to different organizations in Israel. This time, they were not soliciting any money or financial support.

A “Celebration of Life,” organized by Dora Ghadisha and Pouran Nazarian, featured wheelchair-bound dancers — disabled Israeli war veterans who are members of Beit Halochem (House of the Warriro) — in a special dance performance.

Also on hand: Jimmy Delshad, Beverly Hills’ newly elected city councilman, and Yuval Rotem, Israel consul general to the Southwestern United States.

“We want your passion,” host Bijan Nahai said. “We want you not to forget what you saw tonight. We want you not to forget those dancers in wheelchairs. We want you to contribute all through the year, not at a dinner party.” — Mojdeh Sionit, Contributing Writer

Center of Attention

(From left) Dustin Hoffman, 2003 Music Center Distinguished Artist Award honoree; event chair Connie Abell; and Variety’s Army Archerd, who presented Hoffman his award. Other honorees included Cyd Charisse, John Williams and John Ritter, who came with wife Amy Yasbeck. Also taking part: Henry Winkler, Debbie Reynolds, Stefanie Powers, Cynthia Gibb-Kramer and emcee Debbie Allen. Photo by Bonnie Toman

Feting CBS President

Television and film star George Clooneypresents Leslie Moonves with the Sherrill C. Corwin Human RelationsAward

“Jewish people have always been in my life,whether I wanted them there or not.”

So joked Bill Cosby to the capacity crowdattending the American Jewish Committee’s annual Sherrill C. CorwinHuman Relations Award Dinner at the Regent Beverly Wilshire. Thehonoree that Thursday evening: CBS President Leslie Moonves,recipient of the AJC’s distinguished Corwin Award.

Originally established in 1906 in response toczarist Russian pogroms, the AJC has long fought to protect civilrights and celebrate those who have vocally fought discrimination.Honorees of previous star-studded AJC affairs have included StevenSpielberg, Clint Eastwood and Ted Turner.

A plethora of CBS suits and celebs turned out tohonor Moonves, as well as people connected to his previous tenure aspresident of Warner Bros. Television, where he helped launch hitshows such as “ER,” “Friends” and “Lois and Clark: The New Adventuresof Superman.” Jane Seymour, Steven Bochco, Robert Stack, John Ritter,Elliott Gould and cast members of “Everybody Loves Raymond” wereamong the friends and fans visibly enjoying the evening.

But none were more proud of Moonves than his ownfamily — including his wife of 20 years, Nancy; his parents; brotherJohn; and children, Adam, Sarah and Michael.

After dessert, a “60 Minutes” parody, hosted byMike Wallace and Lesley Stahl, appeared on the video screen,comically recapping the actor-turned-executive’s career. Cosby’saddress came next, followed by some words by longtime friend GeorgeClooney, and Moonves’ own acceptance speech. A well-receivedhighlight of the night was a videotaped message by President Clinton,which was received with a roomful of supportive applause.

AJC leader Rabbi Gary Greenebaum cited Moonves'”long history of involvement in bringing the community together.”Celebrities in attendance echoed Greenbaum’s praise. Fran Drescher,who on “The Nanny” arguably portrays the most unabashedly ethnicJewish character in television history, shared her high esteem forMoonves with The Jewish Journal. She labeled the Eye Network chief “apillar of the community…” and praised his firsthand philanthropicinvolvement in important causes. “He doesn’t just write out a check.He really gets into life [and] works very hard.” Indie film queenIleanna Douglas singled out Moonves’ “sense of loyalty.” TeriHatcher, perhaps the only woman ever coveted by the Man of Steel andAgent 007, glowed: “He makes every person feel special.”

Brad Garrett, Ray Romano’s towering TV brother onCBS’s hit comedy “Everybody Loves Raymond,” duly noted that, unlikeother network programmers, Moonves’ word is bond. “When he says he’sbehind [a show], he’s behind it,” Garrett said.

Moonves himself told The Journal: “It isimportant, whether Jewish, Irish or Italian, to maintain [culturalidentity in programming]. Assimilation is a dangerous thing, and itis important to portray diversity on TV.”

He opined that, by and large, depictions of Jewsare handled responsibly by the networks. He also recalled a dinnerwith his granduncle in Israel 28 years ago as a defining moment inhis life “that will stay with me always” — particularly noteworthysince his granduncle happened to be first Prime Minister of IsraelDavid Ben-Gurion.

Moonves’ contributions to television andJewish-American culture did not escape the young Jewish minds behind”Diagnosis: Murder.” Executive producer Lee Goldberg evaluatedMoonves as “one of the most creative people in the business…[notyour typical] stand-offish, icy exec,” to which partner WilliamRabner concisely pointed out: “And he put ‘The Nanny’ on theair.”