Access Hollywood
Jewsweek (6/6/2004)
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David Sacks will not be quiet. He's not a loudmouth or anything of the sort. In fact, the 41-year-old Hollywood writer/producer is surprisingly soft-spoken for someone with his boastful resume: He was one of the early pioneers of The Simpsons for which he won an Emmy, he was an executive producer for Third Rock from the Sun for which he won a Golden Globe Award. And now he's a consulting producer for Malcolm in the Middle.

So what's he talking about now? A new project he's working on called Jewish Impact Films which will offer a fellowship this summer for fifteen people to work closely with Hollywood insiders to create commercials or short films on a variety of topics from Israel advocacy to Jewish spirituality.

"This is something that's sort of been percolating in the back of my mind for a long time," Sacks tells Jewsweek. "The idea was how can I take the mass media skills that I've developed over the years working for hit shows and also my intense interest in Torah and the welfare of the Jewish people and state of Israel and somehow combine these two things in a meaningful way."

Sacks, along with Shrek 2 screenwriter David Weiss and fellow Third Rock executive producer Jason Venokur, realized that technology has made a seemingly cost prohibitive venture into a reality. "There are tens of thousands of people who can write a great ad or could come up with a short commercial or movie who can teach the Torah in a beautiful way but nobody can reach the next step," says Sacks. "Who has hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on ad campaign? What's nice about this project is its going to empower those people who don't have a million dollars to give to Ogilvy and Mather to make an ad that might air twice."

But the beauty of modern day technology -- namely the unimaginable distribution ability of the Internet coupled with easy-to-use editing software -- has made the task of disseminating Judaism in a hip manner more plausible. "This chasm was insurmountable," Sacks explains. "But now you can put out a very polished short little film and you can broadcast it 24 hours a day 7 days a week around the world. Finally, this crazily insurmountable barrier has been removed."

Think of it as for the Jewish set. The success of the political Web site -- which features compelling campaign ads contributed by everyday people -- is not lost on Sacks. "That definitely is the best model," he says. "That is a brilliant execution of what I'm talking about.

And what exactly is he talking about? The three week fellowship will include an eclectic mix of Torah study and moviemaking and will produce two types of films: pro Israel advocacy and what Sacks is calling "audio visual dvar torahs" -- Torah nuggets wrapped in an MTV video. "Everyone is sending out parsha sheets," Sacks says referring to the standard fare of weekly Torah portion article, "but now people are going to experience Torah in a brand new way."

Assuming the fellowship project is successful, Sacks and his team of Hollywood heavyweights hope to spin off the program for high schools, colleges, and JCCs around the world. "We're hoping to empower the average Jew with the ability to do the great PR that all of us have been longing and aching to do."

It's pretty evident David Sacks won't be shutting up any time soon. And that's a good thing.
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