Hollywood on the Potomac

'The China Dream'

July 8, 2018

The China Dream: It’s complicated.  With China dominating the news, we took a look back at Dr. Michael Pillsbury’s expertise.  The below article was first printed on June 3, 2015.  It’s a fascinating conversation on the China-USA relationship.


If you think that all house parties are the same, you obviously weren’t at the book party for Col. Liu Mingfu’s The China Dream at the Georgetown home of Susan and Dr. Michael Pillsbury. “Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, tonight’s program is structured psychologically. We have a Peking Duck, lamb, salmon, and various other delicious things to eat that are going to be on the table in the dining room right after we finish asking questions of our guest of honor,” said Pillsbury.


“So we need to be brief, but also ask a lot of good questions,” he added suggesting that those who aspire to speak Mandarin should watch their tones because every word has a tone. “If you get the tone wrong, it’s very embarrassing. Some private personal parts of your body may be one tone off from like, your favorite sandwich. So you think you’re saying, ‘you know, I really love tuna sandwiches,’ when actually you’ve said something quite different, and this causes enormous laughter on the part of the Chinese.” Hollywood on the Potomac didn’t ask any questions.

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Happy 102nd

July 2, 2018

Happy 102nd to Olivia de Havilland who celebrated another birthday yesterday.  The below article was first printed last year.

Legendary actress Olivia de Havilland celebrated her 101st birthday today. Considered the last star of the Golden Age of Hollywood, she is best known for her role as Melanie in Gone with the Wind and her Oscar winning performance in The Heiress, directed by three time Oscar winner William Wyler.  Less known, but no less important, is the De Havilland Law, a gutsy challenge to the grip of the studios.


“The De Havilland Law is the informal name of California Labor Code Section 2855. Hollywood industry lawyers in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s took the position that an exclusive personal services contract should be treated as suspended during the periods when the artist was not actually working. Since no artist could be working every single day (that is, including holidays and weekends), this interpretation meant that two, or later seven, years of actual service would be spread over a much longer calendar period, thus extending the time during which the studio system had complete control of a young artist’s career. In response, actress Olivia de Havilland filed a lawsuit on August 23, 1943 against Warner Bros. which was backed by the Screen Actors Guild. The lawsuit resulted in a landmark decision of the California Court of Appeal for the Second District in De Havilland’s favor on December 8, 1944. De Havilland’s legal victory reduced the power of the studios and extended greater creative freedom to performers. The decision was one of the most significant and far-reaching legal rulings in Hollywood. The decision came to be informally known, and is still known to this day, as the De Havilland Law.” 

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'When Your Child is Sick'

July 1, 2018

On the eve that Dr. Joanna Breyer’s book When Your Child Is Sick went hot off the presses, Jan Smith hosted a dinner party in her honor at her home in McLean, VA co-hosted by Diane Jones, Kathy Kemper, Doreen Spiegel and Janine Van Lancker, MD.  Breyer was introduced by Smith as “one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met. She rides her bike all around town. She rides her bike not just for fun, but she shows up for lunch and she shows up for meetings on her bike. She’s always enriching, and uplifting, and educating.”

About the book: To many parents, it is hard to imagine a more upsetting reality than one where their child is hospitalized, severely sick, or terminally ill. In When Your Child is Sick, psychosocial counselor Joanna Breyer distills decades of experience working with sick children and their families into a comprehensive guide for navigating the uncharted and frightening terrain. She provides expert advice to guide them through the hospital setting, at-home care, and long-term outcomes. Breyer’s actionable techniques and direct advice will help parents feel more in-control of a circumstance that has upended their life. When Your Child is Sick is a valuable guide to managing the myriad practical and emotional complications of an impossible situation.

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