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February 20, 2004 - Image 49

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-02-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Balaban's entertainment philosophy
got its start while he grew up in a fam-
ily that owned a chain of movie the-
aters in Chicago. He studied acting in
college and became the original Linus
in the Off-Broadway production of

You're a Good Man Charlie Brown.
After being hired by director Mike
Nichols for Neil Simon's Plaza Suite
on Broadway, Balaban moved on to do
a film, Catch 22, again with Nichols.
Ultimately, he has appeared in some
50 films, including Midnight Cowboy.
Balaban's commitment to directing
was launched in his 30s as he succes-
sively worked in theater, TV and film.
He was hired for the play Girls, Girls,
Girls for public theater, developed a
pilot for a successful television series,
Tales From the Darkside, and tackled a
couple of movies, including Parents.
Producer and co-writer of the recent
film Gosford Park, he has directed the
play Addicted, a one-man show run-
ning Off-Broadway.
Married and the father of two,
Balaban detoured a bit by writing a
children's reading series, the McGrowl
books, about a boy, a girl and a bionic
dog, published by Scholastic.
Balaban takes great pride in a chari-
table project started by daughter
Hazel, now 16, to celebrate her bat
mitzvah. The initiative came to
involve the whole family as they col-
lected: 6,000 books to start a library
for a homeless shelter. The family
decided on a similar project for a shel-
ter housing abused women.
The Exonerated, on a 14-city nation-
al tour, offers a different charitable
project that Balaban also finds very
satisfying. The production has collect-
ed more than $400,000 for the six
exonerees who received no remunera-
tion for the time in which they were
wrongfully imprisoned.
"Most of the people represented in
the play have no money to live on,"
Balaban explains. "They are using the
donations for food, clothing and shel-
ter. Gary, who was able to go back to
farming, has donated most of the
money he's received to an organiza-
tion devoted to overturning wrongful
convictions." ❑

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With special guest

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Monday, March 1, 2004

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Couvert $36 • Dietary laws observed

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or email hes@jfmd.org

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