Yoo hoo! Remembering sitcom’s creator

  • The Washington Examiner
  • |
  • February 22, 2006

by Karen Feld

Remember Gertrude Berg, America’s Molly Goldberg? In the early days of television, she would lean out her window and talk about Sanka coffee. You could call her the first TV “gossip.” Local filmmaker Aviva Kempner (“The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg”) wants to immortalize America’s favorite personality from the Golden Age of radio and early TV in a 90-minute documentary. Guests – including Anne Wexler and Joe Duffey – at Mike and Carol Berman‘s and Mel and Francine Levinson‘s brunch for Kempner on Sunday at the Colonnade were moved by the promo – a work in progress – that she screened.

Kempner, who makes films about Jewish heroes, said: “Molly Goldberg paved the way for ‘All in the Family, ‘I Love Lucy’ and other family shows. She invented the sitcom, wrote it, produced it and starred in it.” Kempner, who couldn’t say enough about her engaging subject, added: “She was everybody’s mother.” The passionate filmmaker called Larry David (of “Seinfeld” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” fame) the contemporary Goldberg because he, too, does it all.

Women’s what if …

What if “Wonder Woman” Lynda Carter were an Olympic gold medal winner in track and field? Alma Powell a supernumerary in the opera? Letitia “Tish” Baldrige a renowned makeup expert? Cokie Roberts a concert pianist? Sarah Brady a private investigator? Eleanor Clift devoted her life to rescuing cats? Hecht’s VP Nancy Chistolini owned the Redskins? Debbie Dingell ran a four-star hotel (why not five-star?)? Ann Hand starred as Mimi in “La Boheme” at the Metropolitan Opera? And what if philanthropist Catherine Reynolds were queen of country music?

Francine Levinson and Ilene Leventhal asked 58 women – many of them Washingtonians – to reveal their dreams and aspirations. The local authors compare that to what each achieved as an adult with photos showing each in the fantasy role. The resulting book, “Extraordinary Women,” is just that: extraordinary.

Ladies’ fantasies help kids’ dreams

“We want this book to inspire women,” said Leventhal, who founded the Hand to Hand Eviction Prevention Program, part of the Community Ministry of Montgomery County. And it has. Sculptor Laney K. Oxman‘s fantasy – to be “Sweet 16” for a night because she never had one – sparked the idea to make a difference in the lives of five teens each year by paying for their prom attire through Hand to Hand. Levinson is a former president of the Metropolitan Police Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington. The authors will distribute a portion of the proceeds from the book to these pet charities.

Word, hmm, wire to the wise

The Bush administration is alive and well at Cafe Milano in Georgetown. After a credit card mysteriously disappeared from our table the other evening, we were escorted upstairs to view the hidden camera setup. Let’s just say that diners have their every move videotaped. Wonder if they trained at the Spy Museum? Word to the wise: That’s not a place to go if you don’t want to be snapped canoodling with the “wrong” person. Wonder if Brad and Angelina, Bill Clinton, Terry McAuliffe, Vernon Jordan and other regulars are aware of this?

Back to Articles