Skip to comments.A Fired ‘Scream’ Star, Clients Booted From Agencies and a Secret Tom Cruise Meeting: Inside Hollywood’s Divide Over Israel
Posted on 11/21/2023 6:02:56 PM PST by nickcarraway
Four days after the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks in Israel, WME invited Steve Leder, the rabbi from Wilshire Boulevard Temple, to visit the agency’s Beverly Hills headquarters. He came to provide comfort for employees reeling after the worst attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust. Although the event was not mandatory and Leder’s speech was considered secular, several staffers voiced complaints, which made their way to WME co-chairmen Richard Weitz and Christian Muirhead. Instead of caving, WME invited Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt to speak to the agency on Nov. 1. Greenblatt didn’t mince words, according to those in attendance, calling out the Writers Guild of America for refusing to issue a statement after the Hamas attacks.
Across town, the agency’s fiercest rival, CAA, was dealing with a crisis. Maha Dakhil, one of its top agents, had ignited a firestorm with her Instagram posts, including one that said, “What’s more heartbreaking than witnessing genocide? Witnessing the denial that genocide is happening.” In response, Dakhil was relieved of her duties as co-chief the motion pictures department, though she was allowed to remain an agent. It didn’t hurt that her most important client, Tom Cruise, made it known to CAA that he was backing her. Cruise met with Dakhil at her CAA office on Nov. 15. A knowledgeable source says he took the rare step of going in person to show support for his embattled agent.
But the Dakhil issue didn’t end there. A group of CAA assistants threatened to walk out over the agency’s treatment of her, sources say. They believed she was being railroaded by management but ultimately abandoned their threat. At the same time, some of the agents who complained internally about Dakhil’s posts felt disillusioned, believing she should have been fired. Separately, CAA cut ties with a staffer and two clients over incendiary anti-Israeli social media posts.
Similar instances of firings, finger-pointing and feelings of betrayal are playing out across Hollywood as the industry wrestles with the raw emotions aroused by the eruption of violence in the Middle East.
From power brokers to the rank and file, a growing number are incensed by the hostile rhetoric surrounding Israel and the lack of solidarity, even as some 240 hostages continue to be held by Hamas. Others feel a kinship with the Palestinian cause and believe Israel is the aggressor. The polarization is notable because the industry has largely presented a united front when it comes to politics, from its blanket opposition to former President Trump to its uniform support of reproductive rights. But when it comes to Israel, the cracks are showing.
“There’s just no excuse for not condemning Hamas and demanding the release of the hostages. Hollywood was quick to declare Black Lives Matter, as they should, and Time’s Up, as they should, and myriad other important causes,” Greenblatt tells Variety. “There’s plenty of room for criticism of Israel or to voice concerns about the ongoing war in Gaza, but that doesn’t provide celebrities and industry reps with an open license to wage unfair accusations against Israel, such as accusing it of ‘apartheid’ or ‘genocide’ or, worse, to celebrate the actions of Hamas terrorists.”
Some have had enough. Spyglass quietly dropped Melissa Barrera as the star of the next “Scream” film, sources say, due to her social media posts that referred to Israel as a “colonized” land and floated an antisemitic trope that Jews control the media, writing: “Western media only shows the [Israeli] side. Why do they do that, I will let you deduce for yourself.” Barrera did not respond to a request for comment.
Spyglass initially declined comment, though a spokesperson offered a statement to Variety later in the afternoon to clarify that the actor was fired because her posts were seen as antisemitic: “Spyglass’ stance is unequivocally clear: We have zero tolerance for antisemitism or the incitement of hate in any form, including false references to genocide, ethnic cleansing, Holocaust distortion or anything that flagrantly crosses the line into hate speech.”
Likewise, insiders say “La La Land” producer Marc Platt texted WME leadership about why Boots Riley was still a client after the “Sorry to Bother You” writer-director urged his followers on X to boycott an industry screening of footage of Hamas atrocities at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. He dubbed the footage “murderous propaganda” and warning that “when IDF and Israeli officials are at The Hague for war crimes, massacres and genocidal actions- you wont want your name or image to have been anywhere near it.”However, Riley remains an agency client. A Platt rep says he merely flagged the posts.
Meanwhile, several agents at UTA have expressed outrage internally over a recent open letter spearheaded by writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and believe he should be dropped from the agency’s roster. Coates was the first signature on an Oct. 14 letter that many industryites felt dehumanized Israelis and softened Hamas’ actions with such lines as “Hamas militants broke out of Gaza. More than 1,300 Israelis were subsequently killed.” The agency is sticking with him, though it has severed ties with Susan Sarandon over her controversial words on the conflict.
CAA, too, has been more willing to cut ties over problematic social media missives. The agency fired assistant Jouman (Jasmine) Barakat over her posts that called all Israelis white supremacists and mocked a post from the country’s official handle that stated, “Even Israelis Deserve to Live” by calling it a “fascist regime.”
CAA also dropped Saira Rao and Regina Jackson — who co-wrote the 2022 book “White Women: Everything You Already Know About Your Own Racism and How to Do Better” — over their social media posts. Rao had written on X, “Zionists are starting to panic that more and more of the world sees them for the bloodthirsty genocidal ghouls they are.”
Rao tells Variety that Hollywood is “punishing people of color for speaking out.” She adds, “It’s disgusting. The genocide is indisputable. You can watch it on live TV. CAA will be on the wrong side of history. And shame on CAA for doing that to Maha.” A CAA spokesperson says Rao was not dropped for supporting Palestinians but for posts deemed antisemitic.
When it comes to Israel, the use of the word “genocide” has long been considered problematic in Hollywood. In 2021, Mark Ruffalo apologized for suggesting Israel was committing genocide and added, “It’s not accurate, it’s inflammatory, disrespectful & is being used to justify antisemitism here & abroad.” In 2014, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz signed a letter that called Israel’s operations in Gaza “genocide.” They both later clarified their positions after being widely criticized.
The divisions in Hollywood could deepen. “I’m not entirely surprised by the Jew-hating we’re seeing, but the fact that the dead weren’t even being buried when, at best, you were getting both sides-ism was horrifying,” says Robert Newman, a WME agent. “And it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”
And many are questioning why Hollywood entities — notably the Writers Guild of America — have remained quiet. On Oct. 21, WGA West president Meredith Stiehm sent an email to a group of writers who had been calling for a statement. She explained that none would be forthcoming because “many members have asked us to refrain” and “consensus [is] out of reach.”
Writer David Shore, who was a member of the WGA’s negotiating committee, says he was stunned by the guild’s actions. “There was an opportunity to stand up and be one of the groups who said we stand with the victims of this terrorist attack,” he says. “I was disappointed that they did not do that.”
In this combustible atmosphere, WhatsApp text chains have popped up all over town, sharing instances of perceived antisemitism. WME’s is particularly lively, with one member deriding director Ava DuVernay for posting in support of her agent Dakhil. As for Dakhil, she is on a “Jewish listening tour,” according to a New York Post story that noted she had met with Greenblatt and Leder. Sources close to Greenblatt and Leder say they were unaware that their names would be mentioned in the story and “felt used.” (Leder declined comment, while Greenblatt declined to discuss an off-the-record conversation.)
Although she has become an inadvertent symbol of the Hollywood schism, one top agent at a CAA rival is hoping that Dakhil will continue to receive the backing of her bosses.
“I hope she stays there,” says the agent. “I think it will be incredibly awkward with her there.”
The last couple of years has at least provided a clear separation of the sheep and the goats…
Blanket lock step leftism until this issue. That’s a shame eh Jerry?
They sure have.
They just can’t shut up and act, can they?
Tom Cruise needs to change into his Les Grossman alter ego.
Wonder if the Jews will ever figure out who is on their side and who is not?
Poor stupid liberal fascist jerks.
Not coincidentally the goats are on the left. See my tagline. You don’t want to be on the left…
Rude awakening for many Jews. Hope they STAY AWAKE.
Endeavor Group Holdings, Inc. (formerly William Morris Endeavor and WME-IMG) is an American holding company for talent and media agencies with its primary offices in Beverly Hills, California, United States.
“Tom Cruise needs to change into his Les Grossman alter ego.”
LOL, thanks for that laugh! Amen brother, I agree. I am IN LOVE with Tom Cruise in that part! IN LOVE!
“Wonder if the Jews will ever figure out who is on their side and who is not?”
Exactly, the Jewish reaction is something like “Oh my God, you want us all dead! (or close enough)”.
But it’s not that they hide it like the Jan 6th Tapes, they talk it night and day, publish it, and, no doubt, would be happy to tell any Jew to his face, if he asked.
What happened on Oct 7th was that the Palestinians FORCED the Jews, for once, to have to FACE UP TO IT, regarding their brothers-in-arms, at least regarding Leftist causes.
Gee, did Greenblatt or the ADL mention that BLM supports Hamas?
It is sad that they summoned a secular Jew from a reform “temple” to talk about the Jewish perspective to people from the talent agencies. Such a person has long been on the outside of actual Judaism, rejecting its laws and philosophies. Having him “represent” Jews was like calling naugahyde leather. The rest of the Hollyweird crowd, with few exceptions, behaved in a ghastly way, siding with the murderers. I haven’t been to the movies in several years and there are fewer and fewer reasons to want to return. I refuse to economically enrich such people so bereft of basic human souls.
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt called out the Writers Guild for refusing to issue a statement. Greenblatt tells Variety, “Hollywood was quick to declare support for Black Lives Matter, as they should, and for Time’s Up (post Weinstein sexual assault group), as they should, and myriad other important causes.” He said accusing Israel of ‘apartheid’ or ‘genocide’ or, worse, to celebrate the actions of Hamas terrorists was unfair.
Its cause for alarm that Greenblatt seems to be defending Black Lives Matter.
BLM’s incendiary praise for Hamas’s murderous terror attack was anti-Semitic in the extreme: “BLM stands in solidarity with our Palestinian family who are currently resisting Israel’s 57 years of “settler colonialism and apartheid,” the organization affirmed. BLM said they see “clear parallels” between oppression of Black and Palestinian people.
Also, a sexual-assault director was fired for signing a letter written by various sexual assault organizations that blatantly denied Israeli women were sexually violated by Hamas terrorists.
Oct 18, 2023
Actor Julianna Margulies Condemns Hollywood’s ‘Shocking’ Silence on Antisemitism,
Regrets Wearing a Cross on ‘The Morning Show’: Why Can’t It Be a Star of David?
Julianna Margulies is speaking out against Hollywood for staying silent on antisemitism amid the Israel-Hamas war. The Emmy-winning actor attended the Variety Hollywood & Antisemitism Summit, presented by The Margaret & Daniel Loeb Foundation and Shine A Light, and said she is continually asking herself why many major Hollywood stars are not speaking out in support of Jewish people.
Margulies added that she’s “disheartened” by the silence, and she’s “trying to understand and work around why every single person in our industry isn’t standing up. I don’t understand. It is shocking.”
“Maybe they are afraid?” Margulies wondered. “I don’t know what they are afraid of. Losing followers? It’s just insane to me. That’s not how I roll. Listen, the last thing I thought in my life was that I’d be the one actress speaking out for Jews. I hope I inspire other people to come out and talk and use their voice and use their platform to draw attention to this.”
Margulies currently stars on Apple TV+’s “The Morning Show” as news anchor Laura Peterson, and she told a story about coming to regret letting her character wear a cross on the show. During her costume fitting for the series, the show’s costume designer put a cross necklace around her neck.
“I did not think twice,” Margulies said. “I put the cross on. And then the character became popular. I went in the next season and there in my dressing room was the cross. Because I have started this Holocaust education program for schools since that happened, I have thought…what if Laura Peterson was wearing a Star of David? We don’t have to talk about [her religion]. But what if that character was just wearing a Star of David? Why did i not just say, ‘Hold on, why is that a cross?’”
“On TV, characters are not ever wearing the Star of David,” she continued. “I regret that. I am sorry about that. I am going to be a lot more careful in the future…It’s so easy to put on a cross. Why isn’t it just as easy to put on a Star of David?’
Margulies stressed that she has no issue playing characters of other religions, nor is automatically bothered by non-Jewish actors taking on Jewish roles. As she noted, her “Morning Show” character is a lesbian single woman while Margulies is married to a man and has children.
“Does that mean I can never play a single motherless woman?” she said when asked about Jewish characters only being played by Jewish actors. “It’s a slippery slope. I am 100% on board that I cannot play Black or Asian…but when it comes to religion, I’m on the fence about it. I am an actor. I’m supposed to make the character I play believable. That’s a slippery slope…we’re actors, we are supposed to act. We need to be careful how we tread there.”
“The Morning Show” is currently airing is third season through Nov. 8 on Apple TV+. Margulies is an executive producer on “Jack and Sam,” a documentary about two Holocaust survivors.
This conversation was a part of “Variety’s Antisemitism and Hollywood” summit.
By Todd Spangler
Oct 10, 2023
Porn Actor Mia Khalifa Dropped by Playboy Over ‘Disgusting
and Reprehensible’ Comments About Hamas Attack on Israel
Playboy has cut Mia Khalifa, a Lebanese-American media personality and former porn star, from its roster of OnlyFans-like creators after she shared comments “celebrating” Hamas’ deadly attacks on Israel, according to the company.
“We are writing today to let you know of our decision to terminate Playboy’s relationship with Mia Khalifa, including deleting Mia’s Playboy channel on our creator platform,” the company wrote in a message to users (via Daily Mail). “Over the past few days, Mia has made disgusting and reprehensible comments celebrating Hamas’ attacks on Israel and the murder of innocent men, women and children. At Playboy, we encourage free expression and constructive political debate, but we have a zero tolerance policy for hate speech. We expect Mia to understand that her words and actions have consequences.”
As of Tuesday, Khalifa’s page is no longer available on Playboy’s website.
Among her posts on X (aka Twitter) following Hamas’ attacks on Israelis, Khalifa wrote,
<><>“If you can look at the situation in Palestine and not be on the side of Palestinians, then you are on the wrong side of apartheid and history will show that in time.”
<><> “I can’t believe the Zionist apartheid regime is being brought down by guerrilla fighters in fake Gucci shirts — the biopics of these moments better reflect that.”
<><>“Can someone please tell the freedom fighters in Palestine to flip their phones and film horizontal.”
<><>On Sunday, Oct. 8, Khalifa posted, “I just wanna make sure there’s 4k footage of my people breaking down the walls of the open air prison they’ve been forced out of their homes and into so we have good options for the history books that write about how how they freed themselves from apartheid.”
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