Pic: Yaki Assaig
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Is Olmert a prophet?
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Convergence and other stories

On Ehud Olmert, Hollywood, and the seder night

"Joe," an old rightie complained vehemently about the use of the word "convergence." He argued (justifiably so) that the media is once again sugarcoating withdrawal.


“You want to support it,” he said, “go ahead, but what the hell is 'convergence?' It sounds like something people do during meditation at a hippie festival. Olmert makes up a slogan and everyone uses it.”


I don’t like being referred to as ‘everyone.’ I am barely me. So I told him a story about Olmert’s copywriting skills.


In 1989, Olmert sat in a Warner Brothers sound studio in Hollywood with his friend, film producer Arnon Milchin. Together with director Gary Marshall, they listened to songs being considered for the sound track of a new romantic comedy starring a then-unknown actress named Julia Roberts and a barely recognizable Richard Gere.


After about a half-hour or so, they came across Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman." Olmert listened with half-closed eyes, then turned to Milchin and Marshall and suggested a name for the movie. "Call it ‘Pretty Woman’," he said.


Marshall objected. “Forget it,” he said, “too corny.”


Milchin was also skeptical but Olmert persisted as only he knows how until he convinced them both. The rest, as they say, is history.


Maybe its nothing more than an anecdote, I said to my friend – Israel’s prime minister provided the title for the most successful romantic comedy film of all time – but it also says something about his naming ability. The word "convergence" appeared in our lives less than two months ago and already it’s a blockbuster.


Long-distance hearing


When Pensioners Party leader Rafi Eitan was a guest on my television show, I went to his dressing room to say a quick hello. Initially I spoke especially loud, like you do when conversing with older people, especially those with hearing aids the size of a hotel mini bar. A minute passes and I saw there was no need, he heard me perfectly.


The next evening, I was having dinner with friends with a mutual acquaintance visiting from Paris. As long as I can remember, he has been deaf in his right ear because of an army mishap. He shows me his new listening device. It’s a dot of silicon hidden between the folds of the outer ear. It starts me thinking: Rafi Eitan is a rich man, why is he still walking around with an ancient hearing aid?


I check it out, asking here and there, looking at old photos. Turns out that Eitan has been using the new hearing aids for years, the invisible ones that are ‘planted’ inside the stems of his glasses.


There can be only one reason he is now using the old fashioned kind: public relations. He knows that as chairman of the Pensioners Party he needs to look his age. Anyone familiar with Eitan knows he has a great sense of humor. This time the joke is on us.


Theater of the absurd


I am following, like everyone, the ongoing coalition melodrama at Maccabiah Village. When I saw the gang from “Israel Beiteinu” appear there, I remembered one of the most ridiculous moments of my life as a TV show host.


Some 10 years ago, I had a one-on-one interview program on Channel Three. The very first guest in the series was Yvette (Avigdor) Lieberman who was then the Uber-Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office.


In advance of the interview, we did our research and discovered that in his youth, Lieberman dallied in the theatre and even wrote a play for seven actors. It took a lot of work to find a copy of the play and we then found seven actors from the Gesher Theatre to perform the play’s central scene which we filmed. During the interview I told Lieberman that we had a surprise for him, and we then broadcast the scene from the play he wrote.


When the applause faded I turned to him and said, “Mr. Lieberman, maybe it’s time for you to tell viewers who wrote the play we have just seen.”


Lieberman squirmed and got all flustered, “ I have no idea, why do you ask?”


My Pesach seder


1:00 AM – I lean back a little tipsy in order to reflect on our seder dinner and who was there:


My dad, from the second-largest city in Serbia; my great grandfather from a small village on the Rumanian border; and Danny whose family comes from the CrimeanPeninsula and was adopted by a Sephardi family in Jerusalem. Danny's wife, Doris, is from South Korea, my brother-in-law Daniel comes from a town surrounded by trees in the province of Ontario in Canada.


There was Nitzani Gianchani, whose family name is the same as the Italian town from where they came; my son Yoav, a 13th generation Israeli on his mother’s side and a descendant of Rabbi Kook, competing only with Grandpa Rafi who is a ninth generation Israeli and married to Grandma Telma from Shlomo Hamelech Street; Danny my second brother-in-law (considering the number of Dannys in the family, I should be the honorary consul of Danny-land) who grew up in Cambodia and Beersheva.


Aunt Iris is from Brazil and Uncle Yair is from the town of Metz in France. He married Aunt Tamar from Zurich, Switzerland, and Einat, whose family came from Tripoli in Libya straight to a moshav and Oded, Ora’s husband, from Kibbutz Shuval and all of our children running around the chairs with only one objective: to find the Afikoman.


All of this in one house, at one table with one text, on one evening that was duplicated in tens of thousands of homes on streets throughout the most unbelievable country in the world.


פרסום ראשון: 04.26.06, 15:28
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