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Jay Weston
For forty years Jay Weston has been producing motion pictures and TV, starting in 1968 with “For Love of Ivy,” starring Sidney Poitier and Abbey Lincoln, the first studio film to star two black leads. He went on to produce the much-acclaimed Billie Holiday biofilm, “Lady Sings The Blues,” starring Diana Ross, which received five Academy nominations. Following the biofilm on the life of W.C. Fields, “W.C. Fields & Me,” starring Rod Steiger, he produced an Alan Arkin-Carol Burnett comedy, “Chu Chu and The Philly Flash,”and was responsible for Clint Eastwood’s “Heartbreak Ridge.” Mr. Weston is most proud of the fact that he produced director Billy Wilder’s last comedy, “Buddy, Buddy,” with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Over the years he has produced scores of other features and TV movies, including the first film about beach volleyball, “Sideout,” and an HBO film, “Laguna Heat,” with Harry Hamlin and Jason Robards. Currently, he is preparing to film a remake of the venerable Jimmy Stewart-Kim Novak romantic comedy, “Bell, Book & Candle,” for Disney. His Hemingway biofilm screenplay, Ernest and Mary, is currently being polished, and he is in pre-production on a snowboarding film. Recently, a cable television film which he exec produced, Invisible Child, appeared on Lifetime; it starred Tom Hank’s wife, Rita Wilson, and was written by Academy-Award winner Ron Bass. He is also celebrated for writing and publishing the nation’s most successful restaurant newsletter, “Jay Weston’s Restaurant Newsletter,” which is read each month by thousands of entertainment executives and “foodies” throughout the world. “Food and film are my life,” says the producer, with a laugh.

Entries by Jay Weston

"Woman in Gold" Film Originated in Los Angeles!

(0) Comments | Posted March 31, 2015 | 12:25 PM

IMG_3848 all photos from Weinstein Co. and by Jay

Paula Miller in front of the Klimt reproduction given them by the Altmanns.

Last night I went to a...

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Hungary Goes to the Dogs - WHITE GOD - an Astonishing Movie!

(2) Comments | Posted March 25, 2015 | 4:52 PM

IMG_3812 all photos from Magnolia Films


May I suggest that you mark your calendar for April 3rd, because that's when a foreign film which I love will be opening here..... for just one week, although I suspect it will be renewed if enough people express interest in seeing it after the word-of-mouth spreads. As I know it will. Visionary film distributor Magnolia is opening the 2014 Hungarian film Oscar entry, WHITE GOD, at the friendly little Nuart Theatre on that day. That's the Landmark movie house in West L.A. at 11272 Santa Monica Blvd. (319-473-8530) just a block west of the 405 Freeway, with plenty of street parking 'round the corner. It is one of the most engaging, interesting movies I have EVER seen and I have been watching and making films for more than 50 years. After I saw a screening of WHITE GOD several months ago, I told my Huffington readers about this film....but could not review it until it had been scheduled for a Los Angeles release. Now that it's coming here this week, I can unburden myself of a movie which remained vividly implanted in my brain ever since the night I encountered it. Animal lovers, film enthusiasts, anyone who seeks out the unusual, the unique, the human experience, will relish the picture....but with a caveat which I will detail shortly. The film premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival , where it astonished audiences and won the Prize Un Certain Regard. It was also an official selection for the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. The woman whom I consider the best film critic in America, the New York Times' Manohla Dargis, wrote: "A fierce and beautiful Hungarian parable about a girl, her dog, and the uprising that's sparked after they are separated. When the dogs break free and run through the streets in 'White God,' demolishing barriers and biting the hands that have hit them, the movie takes a leap into bold political metaphor, offering up a memorable image of the great unwashed gone (literally) barking mad."


Never fear, it is not a political movie.....yes, it is a movie about animals, specifically dogs. And a little girl who is searching for her missing animal. The political parable comes about, I suppose, because the Budapest city government passes a law imposing a severe tax upon mixed breed dogs in apartments (they are considered 'unfit' by the state, preferring pedigree and pure-bred dogs) ....reflecting the political and cultural tensions sweeping contemporary Europe. It's a cautionary tale of the indignities visited upon animals by their supposed 'human superiors.' As Indiewire said: "We share the earth with everything that's alive. And we are absolutely in the middle of a moral crisis."

Lili and Hagen.

Our little girl and her dog have been dumped on her divorced father, Daniel (Sandor Zsoterr) by a mother who is leaving the country for three months. He works in an abbatoir, and at the opening we see him dismembering a cow carcass. A crass neighbor reports that their mutt "has to be reported to the Hungarian police." When 13-year old Lili (Zsofia Psotta) discovers her father, in a fit of rage, won't pay the tax and has loosed her beloved dog, Hagen, onto the street, she begins a dangerous journey to get him back. What makes the movie so unique is that at the same time all of the unwanted and so-called 'unfit' mongrel dogs - whose owners have placed them in overcrowded shelters - rise up under a new leader...Hagen, who has learned all too well on his journey through the streets and animal control centers how to bite the hand that beats him. Wandering the streets searching for Lili, he is exposed to many dangerous situations. He has to flee dog-catchers, he is hurt by a nasty beggar, he even becomes a prisoner of a Turkish restaurant owner who is a dog-fighting trainer. After the dogs seize an opportunity to escape and revolt against mankind, courageous Lili is about the only person who can halt the unexpected war between man and dog. (Some of these scenes are so graphic that I question whether this film is appropriate for younger viewers.....or adult viewers who may be queasy about the violence.) Weeks go by and Lili, still bitter at her father, must prepare for her orchestra's annual concert, in which she plays the trumpet.

dog trainer theresa and star of whiye god
Teresa Ann Miller and Hagen

The director, Kornel Mndruczo, has stunningly choreographed scenes featuring a cast of over 250 canines! The opening shot of the movie is of a hooded Lili bicycling through the deserted streets of Budapest....and while the music slowly builds, we see some dogs begin to follow her. Then not just some dogs, a lot of dogs.....more and more joining the pack that is following her until we realize with a shock that they number in the hundreds! In a New York Times interview with the director, they describe it thusly: "The scene is devoid of digital imagery. These dogs are real. Large, small, furry or short-haired, and all very determined, racing towards the camera en masse. It is an astonishing sequence revisited in greater detail later, and it sets up a moment when subjugated animals rise up against their oppressors, fighting back, taking over and leaving audiences in awe." Indeed. The director comments that the dogs taught him "curiosity, patience, and to change my perspective."

Teresa and the Director in Budapest

I had a chance to meet and interview the California woman, Teresa Ann Miller, the animal trainer who worked with him and his Hungarian staff to prepare the dogs for the film. "I was known in Europe for my work on a popular Austrian television series, 'Kommissar Rex'," about a German shepherd police dog," she told me. "So when he contacted me, and told me that we had to use a lot of real dogs of mixed breeds doing some impossible things, I was so intrigued I said yes." Ms. Miller was entrusted with the task of finding the dog to play the lead, Hagen, whom I also met that night. "Actually," she told me, "I insisted that we get two Hagens, so they could split the work. Spent weeks searching for the right dog......he had to look friendly yet could be fierce. Finally I found a listing in Arizona for two brothers up for adoption, Luke and Bodie, mixes of Labrador, Shar-Pei and hound. They were young but the moment I saw them, I knew we had our Hagen." She told me how she had adopted them and spent long weeks working with them to get used to unusual situations....noise and other dogs and threatening people. "Then I brought them to Budapest to begin the serious training." I asked her about a sequence in the movie where Hagen has a violent fight with a Rottweiler and she laughed and said, "It was all in the editing. They were friends....we just filmed lots of play." One reviewer at Cannes said the dog was "the Al Pacino of dog actors." About the title, I quickly realized that it was a subtle take on Sam Fuller's 1982 race-relations allegory, White Dog, about a German shepherd who is taught to hate. Myself, I kept thinking of its strange similarity to another film which I loved, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

I asked about the amazing scenes of the packs of did they achieve that miracle of working with so many animals. She explained that she and the Hungarian trainer, Arpad Halasz, had many trainers working with small packs of mixed breeds which they found in shelters all over Hungary, then little by little incorporated them into the large group. "It was five or six months of intense work to get them fit for the challenging scenes. The director had enormous patience," she said admiringly. I was thrilled to learn that, after the film, all of the dogs were adopted.

Yes, this is a dark twist on an underdog story. Be courageous and see it; you will be rewarded by some incredible imagery which will remain with you for a long, long while.

To subscribe to Jay Weston's Restaurant Newsletter ($70 for twelve monthly issues) email him at...

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Al Pacino Plays Aging Rock Star in "Danny Collins"

(0) Comments | Posted March 21, 2015 | 3:10 PM

christoher plummer andpacino all phootos from Bleeker Street

Last night, Friday, at the AMC 15 Theatre in Century City I attended a showing of Al Pacino's new film, DANNY COLLINS, from Bleeker Street Media. Pictures, which is getting...

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Sister Sam of St. Vincent's 'Meals on Wheels' -- My Idea of a Saint!

(0) Comments | Posted March 20, 2015 | 3:01 PM

Sister Sam with LL Cool J, his wife Simone Smith, and Wolfgang Puck photo from Meals on Wheels

It's no secret to my Huffington readers that I'm not a great fan of organized religions. Over the course of...

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Food Scene in L.A. is Booming!

(2) Comments | Posted March 20, 2015 | 2:21 PM

pink's hotdogs attebds every event
Pink's Hot Dogs Honors Planned Parenthood Event all photos by Jay

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"Switzerland" At the Geffen Stars a Wondrous Laura Linney!

(0) Comments | Posted March 17, 2015 | 2:56 PM

program all photos by Michael Lamont for the Geffen

I have visited Switzerland a half-dozen times in my life, mainly to ski and socialize in St. Moritz and to dine at what was once considered the finest restaurant in Europe,...

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Kevin Spacey Should Host the Oscars!

(2) Comments | Posted March 14, 2015 | 5:24 PM

academy logo all photos from the Academy

Those of us who are streaming new episodes of Netflix' House of Cards are all seeing the brilliance of Kevin Spacey as President Frank Underwood. And last night he did an hour...

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A Human Slave Trade in Young Chinese Girls... in San Francisco!

(0) Comments | Posted March 7, 2015 | 3:47 PM

The story was so astonishing that I skeptically questioned the three screenwriters before even agreeing to read their script. But after looking at all of the background material and researching the period, I reluctantly agreed that it was probably true. Unbelievable, but true.

One of my long-time screenplay writers, Robert...

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Terrine: Exciting New French Bistro on Beverly!

(0) Comments | Posted March 5, 2015 | 1:05 PM

terrine exterior all photos by Jay

"This is the most interesting restaurant food we've eaten all year," my long-time reviewing partner, Penny, said at the end of dinner last night. "It's many dishes you don't see on other L.A....

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Vito's Pizza: My Choice As the Best in L.A.!

(0) Comments | Posted February 27, 2015 | 4:36 PM

Vito's storefront on La Cienega all photos by Jay

Vito Di Donato with a fresh pie
Vito Di Donato...

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Reflections on the Oscars..and Brad Weston!

(0) Comments | Posted February 23, 2015 | 5:35 PM

fox searchligjt execx and brad weston
Fox Searchlight Execs and Regency's Brad Weston. Photo from Hollywood Reporter
all other photos by Jay's friend at Vanity Fair party.

The director of "Birdman" twice got...

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Planned Parenthood's "FOOD FARE" on March 5th!

(0) Comments | Posted February 20, 2015 | 6:38 PM

logo o all photos from Food Fare

I am a passionate advocate of PLANNED PARENTHOOD, that organization which does so much to alleviate the suffering of the less-fortunate in our society. I'll tell you more about their activities in a...

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"Enter Laughing: The Musical" is Old-fashioned Fun!

(0) Comments | Posted February 16, 2015 | 1:03 PM

IMG_3486 all photos from the Wallis

They were serving dollops of the new Kolikof caviar along with bagels with-cream cheese-and-lox in the lobby of The Wallis at the opening of "ENTER LAUGHING: THE MUSICAL".... a wonderful musical entertainment which is...

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"The Night Alive" - Irish & Intriguing at Geffen Playhouse!

(0) Comments | Posted February 14, 2015 | 3:47 PM

poster all photos from Geffen Playhouse

I have always had an affinity for plays by and/or about the Irish, probably because of a class in Irish literature I took long ago at NYU Uptown (when there was an NYU Uptown)....

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"50 Shades of Grey" Is Sexy & Sensational!

(0) Comments | Posted February 13, 2015 | 1:25 AM

poster all photos from Focus Features

How ironic was it to open Universal's '50 SHADES OF GREY' on Valentine's Day? That commercially-romantic holiday was actually the perfect timing for this commercially-romantic movie. Romantic? Yes, I was surprised as my female...

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Have a Fear of Public Speaking? Here is One Solution!

(2) Comments | Posted February 5, 2015 | 2:22 PM

onstructor Antoienette Byron
Public Speaking Coach Antoinette Byron photo by Jay

The New York Times had a story recently about famed author Henry Alford, who has just published a new book and was getting ready for a...

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Sounds of Chinese Music at the Wallis Waft Through Beverly Hills

(0) Comments | Posted February 3, 2015 | 9:50 AM

program book

All photos by Jay.

Everything Chinese is hot these days -- the culture, politics, food and art. The world seems obsessed with this huge, Asian nation as the sleeping giant awakens and roars. I have been...

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Lani Hall's Audio Book, EMOTIONAL MEMOIRS, is Worth a Listen!

(0) Comments | Posted January 24, 2015 | 6:06 PM

audio book jacket all photos by Jay

lani hall
Lani Hall Alpert, the author who reads her book.

I have never before listened to an audio...

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Langer's - The World's Best Pastrami!

(2) Comments | Posted January 17, 2015 | 10:28 AM

Langer's exterior all photos by Jay

Today's debate was fierce among the four avowed food-lovers sitting at a patio table at Meizhou Dong Po, the amazing Chinese restaurant in the Century City Westfield Mall. The subject was.... pastrami. Entrepreneur...

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"A Most Violent Year" - A Stunning, Surprising Movie!

(0) Comments | Posted January 13, 2015 | 4:07 PM

poster all photos from A24 Films

I never would have played the DVD screener if I had not seen the filmmakers on Charlie Rose, been intrigued by them, and then read rave reviews in my three daily newspapers of choice...

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