I freaking promise you that whatever debate over current events you get trapped in this holiday season will not be as bad as a reply-all chain argument about the Gaza Strip, featuring Russell Simmons, sent to Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, and Ryan Seacrest. And I can promise you that because I have seen one.
Imagine being forced to listen to other people discuss the following question: "Is the Gaza War Really Over?"
Now imagine those people include Def Jam founder Russell Simmons, baby-resembling GOP talking point-scribbler Frank Luntz, producer Ryan Kavanaugh, former NBC and Universal co-chair Ben Silverman, actresses Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman, at least three rabbis, and, of course Ryan Seacrest.
On Aug 29, 2014, at 1:29 PM, "Ryan Kavanaugh" wrote:
The problem is that Moore ' law is kicking in. Before the summer 50 percent of college students supported israel, today less the 25 percent do. There are hate crimes against heed happening in almost every major metropolitan city, now including the US.
We have let this happen. And it's our job to keep another Hollacast from happening. Many of you may think that can't happen, that is extreme. My Grandmother told me over and over again remember no one believed it could happen and everyone thought the government would not allow it to. It took 5 years before the us stepped in, and 12 million dead.
If you pull newspapers from pre Hollacast it seems eerily close to our world today.
Kavanaugh, the CEO of Relativity Media and executive producer of The Social Network, was responding here to an email sent by Canadian Bacon producer Ron Rotholz, who, like Kavanaugh, has the habit of forwarding urgent articles about anti-Semitism and Israel to a circle of colleagues and friends. (More than a dozen such forwards that can be located in the inbox of Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, who seems to mostly ignore them.)
A few weeks before sending the email, Kavanaugh, an outspoken supporter of Israel, had become the first major studio head to denounce a letter, signed by actors Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, that condemned the Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip. He later wrote an editorial for The Hollywood Reporter calling for the film industry to stand with Israel against Palestine.
Kavanaugh and Rotholz's forwarding habits were irritating enough to Portman that she'd previously asked Kavanaugh to remove her from the list: "you should not be copying me publicly so that 20 people i don't know have my personal info," she admonished the producer. "i will have to change my email address now."
"Sorry," he replied. "You are right jews being slaughtered for their beliefs and cannes members calling for the boycott of anything Israel or Jewish is much much less important then your email address being shared with 20 of our peers who are trying to make a difference. my deepest apologies." (Grimace emoji.)
Despite Portman's entreaties to Kavanaugh, Rotholz seems not to have gotten the message. On the 28, he sent out an editorial from Bush U.N. ambassador John Bolton's think tank called "Is the Gaza War Really Over?" to a list including Portman (an Israeli-American dual citizen who'd recently shot a film in the country), Johansson (who's faced criticism for endorsing the Israeli company Sodastream), Seacrest (????), and, yes, Russell Simmons, who answered the Kavanaugh email quoted above with the most Russell Simmons reply you can fathom:
From: Russell Simmons
Date:08/29/2014 1:56 PM (GMT-08:00)
To: Ryan Kavanaugh
Cc: Glenn Feig , Mark Canton , "Silverman, Ben" , Ron Rotholz , [Joel Mowbray], Amy Pascal , Jon Feltheimer , Jim Gianopulos , Ron Meyer , [David Seigal], Ryan Seacrest , Russell Simmons , Bart Rosenblatt , Jason Binn , Meir Teper , Gianni Nunnari , Jack Rapke , Roger Birnbaum , Jonathan Brandstein , Patrick Whitesell , Cassian Elwes , Beau Flynn , Geyer Kosinski , John Burnham , Solomon Courtney , Rabbi Marc Schneier , Ken Sunshine , Natalie Portman , Scarlett Johansson , [George Perez], Rabbi Steven Leder , Rabbi Marvin Hier , Elliot Brandt , Frank Luntz , David Shane , [Kobi Marom]
Subject: Re: Is the Gaza War Really Over?
Simple messaging from non Jews specifically from Muslims promoting peace and Israel's right to exist. Should be spread. (Possibly using statements from Hamas leadership in this branding exercise) could be a unifying force. U have ken sunshine on the chain. We have resources and the desire to win rather then loose the hearts of young Muslims and Jews. Our love for innocent suffering Palestinians must be a strong part of our messaging.
With great love all things are possible
(Simmons' suggestion is close to the hilarious one that former Time editor and current Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Rick Stengel posed to Lynton in a separate email a week or two later: "My question is, who is the Muslim Bob Geldof? What if there were a Muslim Anti-ISIL We Are the World video/concert? It could have Muslim artists from all over the world plus hip hop stars.")
I'll spare you the rest of the aimless debate over peace in the Middle East and Israeli self-defense—which took place entirely between Kavanaugh, Simmons, Rotholz and not a single other member of the 39-strong reply-all group. All you need to see to know how it felt is Portman's final appeal to Lynton and his wife Jamie:
Lynton replies, simply: "this is nuts."
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