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Hollywood Rites of Passage, from Redford and Smith to Siegal and Geffen

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood November 14, 2012 at 3:47PM

It was an odd day, bookended by two events that drew together an amazing swath of Hollywood's older generation. I saw CAA partner Bryan Lourd, DreamWorks' Marvin Levy, and Sundance's Michelle Satter at both events, and while the Lois Smith memorial in the morning and Peggy Siegal-wrangled PBS documentary "Inventing David Geffen" in the evening were very different affairs, they both marked rites of passage.
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Lois Smith
Mike Kaplan Lois Smith

As always, filmmaker Norman Jewison nailed the tale of how Smith made him --during rehearsals for "Fiddler on the Roof"--go to his first auction to bid for and win Chagall's painting of a fiddler. He remembered Smith as a beacon in red at jammed events--someone he could trust and rely on, who would look after and protect him. That's what her other clients said as well, including Sean Penn, who said that Smith lived her life according to the following quote from William Saroyan:

Lois Smith and Meryl Streep
Lois Smith and Meryl Streep

“In the time of your life, live—so that in that good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life your life touches. Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding place and let it be free and unashamed.

Place in matter and in flesh the least of the values, for these are the things that hold death and must pass away. Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption. Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world. Ignore the obvious, for it is unworthy of the clear eye and the kindly heart.

Be the inferior of no man, or of any men be superior. Remember that every man is a variation of yourself. No man's guilt is not yours, nor is any man's innocence a thing apart. Despise evil and ungodliness, but not men of ungodliness or evil. These, understand. Have no shame in being kindly and gentle but if the time comes in the time of your life to kill, kill and have no regret.

In the time of your life, live—so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.”

Many of the folks assembled were inspired by Smith's integrity and values, they said afterwards. Attendees included Smith's daughter Brooke and granddaughter Brianna, who both work in the business, as well as her clients Michelle Pfeiffer, Taylor Hackford, Rob Morrow and Lothaire Bluteau, producers Diane Sokolow, Laura Bickford and Sid Ganis, agent Chris Andrews, journalists Peter Bart and Mark Morrison, AFI's Jean Firstenberg, and marketing/publicity execs Pat Kingsley, Jennifer Allen, Catherine Olim, Terry Curtin, Dennis Higgins, Jasmine Madatian, John DeSimeo, Michael Klastorin, Hilary Clark, Rachel Aberly, Mark Pogachefsky, Michelle Abbrecht, and Karen Samfilippo. (My obit of Smith is here.)

This article is related to: Documentary, Tom Hanks, Tom Ford, DreamWorks, Steven Spielberg


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.