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November 10, 1995 - Image 36

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-11-10

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Firooz Banooni, M.D.

Grand Kasdan:
A Reel Humanist



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irmingham Temple Presi-
dent Carolyn Borman was
a dance-hall girl in
Lawrence Kasdan's first

It was sophomore year, 1968,
when University of Michigan
Sigma Delta Tau (SDT) sorori-
ty sisters Carolyn, Rena Wish
and Meg Goldman were prepar-
ing for the big Winter Weekend
with the Phi Epsilon Pi (later,
Zeta Beta Tau - ZBT) fraternity.
Rena Wish was the chair of the
sorority portion of the event. Her
eventual-husband, Sonny Cohen,
was the chairman of the frater-
nity portion. Lawrence Kasdan
was Mr. Cohen's committee
As part of the winter weekend,
the sorority and fraternity had to
create a multimedia project, in-
cluding a film and soundtrack.
Mr. Kasdan wrote the screen-
play, an intriguing story of a
mail-order bride going west. The
SDT/ZBT team won the grand
prize for the weekend. Which
was no Big Chill for the team.
And Mr. Kasdan has been win-
ning writing and film awards
ever since.
A sellout crowd of more than
500 at the Birmingham Temple
on Monday night was treated to
a humorous anecdotal evening of
Mr. Kasdan's filmmaking jour-
Mr. Kasdan spoke at the re-
quest of Birmingham Temple
member Lynne Master at a ben-
efit in memory of her late hus-
band, Eli Master. Mr. Master
was a business and civic leader
with many community commit-
ments, including past president
of the Birmingham Temple.
Mrs. Master established the
Eli Master Memorial Scholarship
Fund for the training of Hu-
manistic rabbinic candidates af-
ter her husband died in 1993.
Mr. Kasdan grew up in West
Virginia where "I played ball,

slouched through school and
chased girls. But the thing I liked
best was going to the movies," he
said. "I idolized Burt Lancaster
and Gregory Peck. I fell in love
with Grace Kelly. And Rhonda
Fleming was so zaftig."
In 1962, at age 13, Mr. Kasdan
and his family moved to Miami
Beach. One day, he and his old-
er brother Mark drove more than
an hour in rush-hour traffic to see
a movie. Unfortunately, they
missed the opening by two min-
utes. "It was too good to come in
the middle," according to Mark
Kasdan. So they waited five
more hours until the next show-
ing. "My destiny was clear the
day I saw Lawrence of Arabia,"
Lawrence Kasdan said.
Mr. Kasdan decided to attend
the University of Michigan after
a friend told him about the many
writing awards he could win, in-
cluding U-M's Hopwood, won by
many famous writers, among
them Arthur Miller and, later,
Lawrence Kasdan.
On the Ann Arbor campus in
the late 1960s, a major concen-
tration of cinema societies were
springing up. "For this movie-
crazed West Virginia boy, it was
like landing on another planet,"
Mr. Kasdan said. At U-M, he saw
more than 10 movies a week.
He also saw Meg Goldman, the
SDT whom Rena Wish Cohen
fixed up with Mr. Kasdan in ju-
nior year after Ms. Wish's dates
with him fizzled out. Meg Gold-
man became Meg Kasdan when
she and Lawrence were married
at the Birmingham Temple by
Rabbi Sherwin Wine 24 years
Meg Kasdan's parents, Do-
ralee and Irving Goldman, have
been Birmingham Temple mem-
bers for 26 years and were in
proud attendance Monday night.
Meg, a talented screenwriter in
her own right, has since worked
on many partnerships with her

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Lawrence Kasdan at the Birmingham Temple.

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