Thankful for Hollywood

Why we’re grateful for Hollywood

by soul of the biz

Ken Aguado – Grateful for Hollywood is a PG-13 love story about a small-town boy who moves to Hollywood and makes a successful career as a studio executive and producer. Along the way he conquers cynicism and discovers that the “soul of the biz” is about staying creatively fulfilled.

Nelson Bae – Storytelling dates back to the beginning of human communication. I’m grateful that Hollywood can still tell me a story that captures both my attention and imagination while also striking me at my emotional core.

Ashley Ballard – Hollywood has given me a space to reveal my inner demons in a beautiful way that has brought joy to others. It has healed so many parts of me without even trying. I will be forever thankful for the woman it has created in me.

Jaime Becker – What makes me feel better when I am sick is curling up under the covers and watching a movie. Harold Ramis, Mike Nichols and John Hughes dish out some great medicine! I am grateful they are in my network.

Jason Benoit – I’m grateful for the health of my family and the ability to keep a roof over my head and our loved ones fed during this holiday season. The little, important things we might take for granted. That’s what I’m most grateful for this year.

Brooke Berman – I’m grateful for the amazing network of people I’ve met who believe in the power of creativity; we make stuff up for a living, we invest in make-believe and in each other. I’ve been in awe of the things my colleagues have created this year. And on a personal note, I’m grateful my first short was well-received. And as always, I’m grateful for a healthy child. What more is there?

Stella Braintree – To the hard-nosed coots who strive for perfection, the misfit rebels who invent new rules, and those wild-eyed visionaries who shoot for the stars, in spite of all the naysayers – thank you! To the below-the-liners and P.A.s who fling the dirt without enough praise to ensure the magic happens – you rock! To the artists whose insight, passion, and guts open our minds to ideas, mend our broken hearts, knock us to our knees with laughter, and inspire us to dream bigger and better than we could ever imagine, I offer much gratitude… Oh, and I also appreciate warm, buttery globs of sage-scented dressing! (Okay, not exactly cinematic, just my own personal thing.) Happy Thanksgiving, Hollywood!

Risa Bramon Garcia – I am grateful for the community of creators and just plan incredible people in this town. With all its craziness, it is a tribe of talented, smart, passionate people – artists, and otherwise – all willing to sweat and bleed in the making of good work. Sometimes even excellent work happens. We are warriors together. At the end of the day, there is union in the pursuit, the struggle, and the accomplishment of having created something. Whatever it is, we have poured ourselves into it. Together. I am thankful for this fellowship.

Frances Brennand Roper – 7 years ago when I was at drama school in London, I admitted out loud for the first time that I wanted to move to America to make movies. For a girl from a little island off the cost of France it was a momentous dream. But Hollywood inspires people from every nook and cranny of the world to pursue their dreams and I am grateful that it continues to inspire me everyday to keep climbing that mountain towards my future.

Jennifer Brody – For telling stories that are so epic or moving they can transport you to outer space and beyond (Interstellar), or back in time to WWII and the race to break the unbreakable Nazi Code (The Imitation Game), or to the fantastical world of Panem as the Mockingjay struggles to break free (Mockingjay – Part 1). All these movies have brightened my holiday season. Now where’s that Star Wars trailer???

Felicia Cameron Leger – Hollywood films that stand up for God in an increasingly atheistic culture. (Hooray for God’s Not Dead!)

Adam Chanzit – Stepping away from the bustle and the hustle, I feel grateful for the opportunity to spend my days (and often nights) thinking about story, character, and art.

Heather Courtney Quinn – I am grateful that I get to watch TV and call it “work” and I am thankful for my healthy newborn baby boy!

Dara Creasey – I get paid to do something I’d otherwise be doing for free.

Becky Curran – I’m grateful for Hollywood’s ability to educate the world. I’ve learned so much and it has me convinced that nothing is impossible. Thank you Hollywood for teaching me how to impact not just the United States, but the entire world.

Jill Cutler – I have much gratitude for all of the storytellers across the globe that inspire, enlighten, educate and entertain us through film, TV, music, theatre, books. I’m truly honored to be working with a dynamic and magical group of Hollywood Journal contributors, whose words continue to touch, galvanize and impact me and many others. I’m blessed with the love of a wonderful man and an incredibly supportive family. And I have hope and faith in a better tomorrow.

Lindsay Devlin – I’m grateful to Hollywood for being the great equalizer — no matter our age, background or skin color, we can sit in a dark theater and have an amazing cathartic experience with strangers who are on the same emotional ride. The very best of these films then become part of our shared cultural references, be it by breaking the ice with a favorite film quote (“I’ll have what she’s having”), bridging the generations (watching the same films that my grandparents did makes me feel connected to them even though they are long gone), and creating new traditions (I can’t wait to watch my favorites with my son). Happy Thanksgiving!

Ashley Dingess – It allows me to build amazing relationships and have fun in my career. I am grateful for the relationships I have made and am looking forward to new ones in 2015!

Douglas (Doug) Eboch – I’m grateful for all the people who helped and supported me in my craft and career, from Aghi Koh who recommended me to my first agent to Stokely Chaffin who purchased my first screenplay, from the good folks at the WGAw to the good folks in my writer’s group. There are so many more… nobody makes it in this business alone.

Craig Emanuel – After working in and around Hollywood for over 30 years, I am not only grateful for the friends and colleagues that I have made and had the privilege to work with but am truly grateful for the opportunity to work with people from around the world who have opened my eyes, made me better informed and made me appreciate that sometimes it is the smallest of stories that can have the biggest impact. I am grateful for those people in our industry who continue to push the envelope (often without popular support) and whose persistence has made us appreciate that the issues that exist in our own small bubble often pale by comparison to larger global issues which, particularly in this day and age, are issues we should be more focused upon.

Jill Effron – Two reasons: 1. It’s a place where dreamers can dream and turn their dreams into reality. 2. Entertainment provides an excellent distraction to life’s problems.

Todd Felderstein – With November having so many demarcations (Thanksgiving, last year’s Thanksgivukkah, Black Friday, my birthday month, etc.), it would only make sense to first be grateful that my parents found each other and then let love rule; thanks Mom and Dad. That said, I have recently launched a personal project that combines my filmmaking career with mentoring, a passion that I have been involved with for over a dozen years. Camera Conversations is intended to explore the decisive moments that have shaped many a successful lifetime and career. I call it “virtual mentoring” and have to thank the Hollywood community for honing my skills as a director and recognizing the power of story comes in all shapes, sizes and formats.

Maren Fischer – I am grateful for Hollywood because of all the dreams it has delivered, inspired, and created for so many years and for years to come. Hollywood takes dreams and makes them reality, and then spreads those dreams around the world. It’s like an awesome dream-machine!

Gaylyn Fraiche – For constantly introducing me to interesting, creative people I might never have met if we weren’t coming together to work on a movie. I’m grateful for traveling to places I might never have visited, in order to make movies, and I’m grateful for a new job with a great group of people. Happy Thanksgiving from cold and rainy Asheville, NC.

Eddie Gamarra – Every now and then I watch a film or a show that completely challenges me, amazes me, inspires me, or makes me feel like a kid again. Every now and then, a project that you believed in and that you fought for actually comes together, gets made, and does well with the audience. I am grateful for those every now and then moments. I would also add I am grateful for a patient and understanding wife.

Jane Gering – Unlike any other proving ground I experienced prior (Division I playing field, Ivy League classroom, etc.), it is the truest form of “meritocracy.” Connections matter little, degrees and memberships even less — it made me “put up or shut up” every day and taught me to not only have an option but to be prepared defend it four times before lunch. It is Harvard Business School, Yale Drama School and the Sopranos all in one!

Adam Giaudrone – Going back to when I was a very young child, Hollywood has always encouraged me to dream. Not about the fame, money, and red carpets, but about the many stories, places, and fictional people that TV and the movies have introduced me to. It has allowed me to love, laugh, cry, and scream, but more than anything Hollywood taught my imagination how to soar. And for that I will forever be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving!

Norman Golightly – I am thankful for 43.4500° N, 80.4833° W, the geographic coordinates of where I was born. The sheer luck of being born into a first world country, something over which I had no input or control, had more to do with the blessings of my life than anything I have ever actually done or will do. I am also thankful for dogs, key lime pie and people who use their turn signals.

Claudia Grazioso – I am grateful that my kids now love Singing In The Rain as much as I do! And I guess that makes me grateful for the magic of cinema that completely transcends time, generations and trends.

Ron Greenfield – Gratitude and the expression of it is an essential part of any successful life. To be grateful to the performers, directors, designers, musicians, and other creative artists of the film industry, whose work has inspired us over the years and encouraged us on our own creative path, can only contribute to our advancement, it whatever form and creative way it happens to be. Gratitude aligns our minds and thinking with the best in order to emulate and become the best. Happy Thanksgiving.

Paul Greenstone – It allowed me to pursue my dreams of making movies and in that pursuit, I was fortunate enough to attend the Sundance Film Festival with clients and movies I produced. At the festival in 2004, I met a wonderful woman for our 2nd date. We’ve been married for 9 years and have a wonderful 5 year old son named David, who’s the best production I’ve ever been a part of.

Eileen Grubba – I am so incredibly thankful for every door that opened this year. Grateful for the courageous writers, directors, showrunners who have cleared a path for me, because I intend to do a lot of good with it! Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wendy Hammers – Because it was far enough away from where I grew up and the voices in my head that I could find and realize my own creative voice as an actress, writer, stand up, and solo artist.

Jason Hariton – This Thanksgiving I am grateful for Hollywood; particularly, the people and businesses living and operating in and around the Hollywood area. I am thankful that, despite tough financial times, our community came together to help fund another year of the LAPD Hollywood PAL program, ensuring that more than 500 local at-risk youth, ages 6-17, can continue to benefit from a community-based crime prevention program that provides young people with positive alternatives to gangs and drugs. Through interaction with police officers in recreational, educational, athletic and fine arts activities, underprivileged young people are given the opportunity to form healthy, positive attitudes toward the police, the society and the laws they represent. Well done, Hollywood!

Rosilyn Heller – I’m always most grateful for this season because the Foreign Language Films have arrived and as an FLFA Academy committee member I get to see as many of these unique films — always filled with great surprises, monumental achievements and just plain awesomeness. I can visit another country and its people  without ever having to leave my neighborhood (which I do often enough anyway). All Academy members are eligible to join, but my message to those who don’t, you are really missing out on some of the best films produced in the world this year.

Kenn Henman – I am grateful for the opportunities Hollywood has given me. It has helped define me, but I aspire to be better.

Aaron Henne – Talent. I am thankful that living and working in this great community has allowed me to collaborate with so many talented artists. Because this city is a gathering place for creators, it has afforded me the opportunity to learn from, and work with, the best. Happy Thanksgiving!

Rabbi Sherre Hirsch – I am grateful that Hollywood is making modern midrash on our ancient texts by making films like Exodus and Noah. They are bringing our tradition to life in new and creative ways so that everyone can enjoy the wisdom of our people.

Scott Brandon Hoffman – Because of the wonderful stories created by the world’s best storytellers through all the inspiring and entertaining films and TV shows. They’ve impacted me to do the work I’m doing in the world today and have taken me to places deep inside myself. They’ve shown me over and over again who I am, who I want to be, and who we all are at the core… these stories strike a Universal chord inside humanity’s hearts and move us to wake up to be our highest selves, to leave the heartache and darkness behind, so we can laugh at our biggest dramas, and ultimately to know the truth of who we really are, and what it’s like to love and be loved.

Sam Horn – A favorite proverb is “When you drink the water, remember the well.” As we head into Thanksgiving, I remember and am grateful for loving family, friends, health, wealth in all that matters, and light-in-the-eyes happiness. I am also grateful for senses, the ability to see, smell, taste, touch, feel and think about this bountiful world that is ready and waiting for us to explore it, appreciate it and write about it.

Seth Jaret – I’m grateful that Hollywood is a vehicle – though vastly imperfect – for perpetuating narratives that reflect and inform our culture. Its undeniable allure motivates us, as storytellers, to share our singular vision and unique perspective with a greater circle of humanity to bring us closer together, to entertain, to enlighten. While munching popcorn.

Suzanne Jurva – I am thankful that the industry shows the power of a story and the impact we have to change our country. In these troubled days we could sit back and feel helpless, but I know there is a talented colleague out there who is crafting a story to push us towards the change we need to undertake.

Josh Kesselman – For inspiring me as a child. I remember seeing Die Hard with my father and the two of us leaving the theater so connected and excited about life. It’s crazy how an action thriller can have that effect on someone!? Thank you Bruce Willis and everyone who had something to do with making that film. Gobble Gobble!

Dani Klein Modisett – I am full of thanks to all the long term Hollywood couples, too many to list here, who opened up their hearts and often their homes to me to share wisdom about how they stay together and keeping laughing for decades for my upcoming book, Take My Spouse, Please (Shambhala Press, July 7, 2015).

Tony Krantz – Spending this week in Israel invited by friends from Hollywood, I’m thankful for the ability to see first hand this great and profound land and to learn about its complexities that are seldom portrayed accurately from all sides of the conflict. With complex political agendas in all directions and seemingly impossible facts on the ground, peace seems far off at best. As the simple and difficult solution of people learning to live in peace alongside each other with mutual respect remains sadly allusive, I’m deeply thankful for the astonishing young men and women of the IDF who stand committed to the safety of Israel and of a brighter and more peaceful world. It’s ironic that a fighting force is about this — but they are. And it gives me pause to thank the American men and women in uniform and our veterans who protect and have protected our nation, standing for our values in ultimate ways in such a dangerous world.”

Tova Laiter – Mike Nichols said that the minute he sat on the director’s chair on the set he knew that this was what he meant to be doing. It reminded me of arriving to the location set of the first movie I produced, looking around at the charged activity: honeywagons, drivers , electricians, actors and extras, 250 people employed… and I thought: “all this because I had an idea in my head that I loved.” Thanks Hollywood.

Sam Levine – No matter how tough life is or bleak the world may seem, Hollywood (media and entertainment) has and will always reveal the breadth of our imagination, the height of human potential and our deep need to connect with one another.

Marci Liroff – I try to stay in a state of gratitude all year – not just during the holidays. Hollywood never ceases to amaze and surprise me in the way it keeps re-inventing itself.

Michael Maren – Like everyone in the biz I’ve endured my share of Hollywood horrors and indignities. But when I think of Hollywood the first thing that comes to mind are the many dedicated, talented, and brilliant people I have met and worked with over the years. I’m grateful for every one of them. Happy Thanksgiving.

Elizabeth Much – I’m grateful to Hollywood for allowing me to work in a business that despite its frenetic pace and intermittent craziness, is work that never quite feels like work. The fact that I’ve been able to travel the world over (and usually in first class) and meet all kinds of people is something that I never take for granted. It continues to be a journey full of surprises and interesting experiences. On a personal note, I am most grateful for the love and support of my husband, Steve Muller. Marrying a talent agent was a very wise decision indeed! It’s wonderful to share my life with someone who understands the vicissitudes of our business.

Kate Neligan – I am thankful to Hollywood for shaping me into the businesswoman I am today. Hollywood is the home where dreams can manifest and many of mine have both inside the movie studio world and outside as an entertainment entrepreneur. Tinseltown is truly full of sparkling gems for those who know who they are and what they most desire. I have now had two dream jobs inside of this star-struck town and most importantly I have come to see myself as a star, someone whose true purpose is to shine light. This Thanksgiving I’m personally grateful for all the amazing people in my life that are my support stars and for my equine coaching work that fills my heart with so much love.

Nancy Nigrosh – Before there was a Hollywood, professional storytelling was bound by cultural traditions and all kinds of other restraints. As storytelling media increases its reach, we’re able to activate even more possibilities. I’m grateful to have played a role in it.

Suhad (Sue) Obeidi – I am grateful for Hollywood because it is the only industry in the world that can change hearts and minds through art, imagery and soul. I am in awe of its influence on the world.

Winston Perez – Hollywood is difficult, easy, stressful, effortless, charming, mean, tough and gritty… Ah, and that’s just the acting side. I am thankful real actors have a passion for all that.

Eddie Richey – I’m grateful for the opportunity to express myself as a writer, and the privilege to be working with people such as Maria Crenna, Kevin Donahue, Ragna Nervik, David Tish, K.C. Marsh, Emily Skopov, and Jill Cutler.

Blake Robbins – From the moment human beings could conceptualize we’ve been telling stories, it seems to be in our DNA, I am so grateful to be in hollywood working amongst these gifted storytellers.

Chris Salvaterra – I am grateful for my family, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to make entertainment that can impact people’s lives.

Alana Sanko – Professionally I’m thankful that there is more year round development now then ever before and that Jet Blue still has one non-stop flight a day from JFK to Burbank!! Personally I am first and foremost thankful for my truly incredible family and friends who enable me to jam my days until they’re overflowing and love me no matter how bleary-eyed I am.

Mia Schaikewitz – Grateful to have the opportunity to inspire society through creative projects in the media with people who want to make a positive impact on the world.

Dr. Linda Seger – Early in my career, much of my business came from Women in Film members and WIF referrals. I’m grateful for an organization with inspiring women role models and generous women! We all need help from somewhere, and nobody makes it alone in this business… thank you to all the industry people who help others!

Mara Shapshay – I’m grateful for taking part in the Kids in the Spotlight charity which takes foster kids from group homes and lets them tell their stories in 10 minute films with the help of Hollywood coaches. A special shout out to Ty Burrell for all the work he does with the organization.

Alan Smyth – This year, more than ever, I am grateful for the increasing number of female writers shaking Hollywood, benevolently (!), by the scruff of the neck. Not only because so much of their work is inspirational and provocative but also because several of these ladies have brought me along for the ride.

This year, two very funny, fierce and incredibly talented women provided me with three of my very favorite roles to date, all of them leading. Not only did they write, they directed. One feature; one short; one world premiere play. Complex roles full of life, mischief and pain. If men could write women the way these women write men, the creative world would be a more colorful & vibrant place. For Theresa Rebeck and Christine Boylan, I offer more thanks than I know how to give.

Judi Srebro – I’m grateful for having found my professional passion (speech and dialect coaching and making people sound and communicate their best) and being able to do what I love. I am grateful for meeting so many talented people through my work and being part of the creative process in my own way. It gives me such a high! And I’m grateful that the world is really so small, and Hollywood is far-reaching. I am grateful for being part of an industry with such impact and potential for our world. But enough about me – thanks to all of you who entertain us all.

Teresa Sullivan – Because the Samuel Goldwyn Awards folks deemed my writing worthy of one. On a personal note, I am grateful that Finnegan and Fenway are along for the ride!

Aaron Symonds – I’m grateful for the people I’ve collaborated with who have trusted me with their projects and given me the opportunity to challenge myself creatively. I’m also grateful for the close friendships I’ve developed… but mostly I’m grateful for caffeine.

Dr. Yalda T. Uhls – I am grateful to Hollywood for using the power of storytelling. In a world where attention is fragmented and focus for longer than a few minutes is challenging, Hollywood demands more of its audience. And by engaging youth through meaningful stories, Hollywood demonstrates that we have the power to change attitudes, minds and behavior.

Georgia Van Cuylenburg – It reminds me everyday that we all have the power to make a difference just by telling a story. And personally I am so grateful for the incredible people I have met in the last year whose passion for something bigger than themselves has made me so honored to call them a friend.

Rev. Jane Voigts – I’ve been able to leave L.A. for a time to go to rural Iowa and care for my elderly parents. This has given me the gift of quality time to spend with them, plus quality time to work on creative projects (exploring the Bible as comedy) I have long dreamed to pursue. Also, of course, I can now legitimately complain about the weather, which also is a reason to give thanks. I’ve included a pic of me marching (prancing, actually) in this summer’s Chicago Pride Parade — a true creative and spiritual highlight of my year!

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