Hollywood on the Potomac

Here's Looking at You, Kid!

November 5, 2020

“I believe that you’ll find tonight’s celebration uplifting and hopeful,” said Pat Harrison, CEO of CPB and Gala Chair while welcoming more than 4K guests to a virtual gala celebrating NIAF’s 45th Anniversary honoring Dr. Anthony Fauci with the Leonardo DaVinci award for leadership in health and science.


Prior to the event, Harrison sat down for an exclusive interview with Dr. Fauci, tracing their Brooklyn roots and the significance of the Italian culture and community while reminiscing about their shared heritage.


Q: “How did growing up Italian in Brooklyn shape your childhood?”


A: “I’m sure anyone who’s had that shared experience with me knows it was a very nurturing and embracing atmosphere. The entire neighborhood was your family. So that to me had a great influence on me because I have always been a people person caring about people. And that was one of the things that drove me into medicine as a profession. Ever since I was a child, as long as I could possibly remember, it was always people caring about each other. And that is the hallmark of the Italian American experience.”


Q: “I was thinking about this in light of what we’re all going through today and the Jesuits teach that we should live with enthusiasm, with joy, with gusto. And that’s very much part of the Italian culture, but how can we really do this at a time of great peril and anxiety? I think a lot of people want to know what sustains you.”


A: “What sustains me Pat is the importance and the significance of the problem that I’m addressing. Right now the end is not necessarily insight in the middle of a historic pandemic, the likes of which we haven’t seen in 102 years since 1918. You know that getting worn out, getting burned out, getting too tired to go any further is not an option. I mean, that’s just it.That’s not in the cards, no matter how many hours you work, no matter how worn out you feel, you just got to keep going because the problem is of such a magnitude. You just can’t let it get ahead of you.”

Dr. Fauci has been going to the NIAF Gala for years so Pat asked him why. “Is it for the pasta?”


A: “The pasta is good. You’ve got to say that. And it’s amazing. I can’t imagine how we do it every year, where you have so many people in a room and it’s always al dente. I can’t figure that out how they did that. Some people can’t do it for four people, but when you do it for that number of people, well it’s because of the spirit and the old friends.”


Enter Mary Ann Esposito of Ciao Italia who made Fettucine Fauci with Fresh Mushrooms i.e. Fettucine Fauci ai Funghi Freschi and encouraged guests to prepare in advance and enjoy while watching the gala.  Get the recipe here.


The evening’s hosts were Maria Bartiromo, NIAF Board Member, two-time Emmy Award winner, and anchor of Mornings with Maria and Maria Bartiromo’s Wall Street on Fox Business Network, and Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo on Fox News Channel; and Joe Piscopo, NIAF celebrity Ambassador and radio show host.

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And the Award Goes to ...

October 7, 2020

Written with guest contributor Liz Sizer


Welcome to jazz quarantine, a place we created to keep each one of the musicians safe, but not quiet,” said jazz harmonicist Frederic Yonnet who opened the Washington Film Festival on a musical note.

Jonathan Capehart (Photo by: Craig Emanuel) Jonathan Capehart

“It is a pleasure to once again be joining you as the master of ceremonies for the March on Washington Film Festival opening night gala,” said Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart. “I know you’re all looking forward to the educational and entertaining events that are in store for you this week. But tonight, we gathered virtually to celebrate three important voices of the movement, the President and CEO of the Southern Poverty Law Center Margaret Huang;  US Congresswoman representing California’s 43rd district Maxine Waters and an American icon the late Congressman John Lewis will also be joined by some talented artists who will share their amazing gifts with us as well as friends and colleagues of our honorees. 2020 has been a year of uncertainty and turmoil with a global pandemic, economic uncertainty and especially the social unrest happening across America. Due to the ongoing state of racism, it is now more apparent than ever how vital and necessary the March on Washington Film Festival is and the importance of the history it recounts and the voices. It highlights with that in mind.”

Robert Raben (Photo by: Craig Emanuel) Robert Raben

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'Film School Friday'

August 6, 2020

“I’ve always believed that one of the most powerful ways that we can lift and inspire one another is by celebrating those among us who have achieved excellence and especially those who we might otherwise overlook by shining the light of recognition on those in front of and behind the camera. The changes that we’re experiencing right now as an industry have presented some serious challenges from stalled productions to shuttered cinemas and these challenges also extend to our Award season, particularly how to convene them from the physical production to social responsibility and the need for diversity inclusion and equity. Today’s discussion could not be more timely, “said Amb. Charlie Rivkin, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association as he welcomed ZOOM guests to the 4th edition of Film School Friday.


“The Television Academy recently announced that it will host its Prime Time Emmy Show virtually for the first time this year and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has pushed its Oscar Awards to April,” Rivkin added. “So today we’re very excited to bring together four industry veterans who will share their perspectives and opinions on the challenges and the opportunities facing our award season and more broadly our industry panelists. I am really looking forward to the discussion that’s about to follow because what better voices than these to explore how change can also be an opportunity to ensure that our industry’s awards can extend their recognition of excellence to everybody, no matter who they are, what they look like or how they identify.”

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