Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Oliver Stone/Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

OK, usually I don't say much, but this has really pissed me off, as what The Iranian President's office put put there is 100% BS.

How do I know? Because this is my project. This is what happened:

Last year, after The President issued his "Letter to the American people," he stated that "There needed to be an open dialogue between Iranians and Americans." I qualify, I'm American and in the entertainment business.

So I thought, "Great, let's do a documentary." The more I thought about it, I realized the only director who would be able to do this and do an excellent job was Oliver Stone.

I contacted Mr. Stone and he expressed an interest. Then I contacted Iranian producer Mohammad Nikbin and he has the liaison with the President's office. Of a strange coincidence, Mohammad's wife, director Tahminah Milani, was arrested a few years ago in Iran (prior president) because of one of her films.

While the censorship board in Iran had approved it her film, somehow there was a misunderstanding and she was arrested. Really strange, there was a petition from International film makers calling for her release and apparently Mr. Stone was on the petition, so I understand.

Anyway, Mohammad spent a lot of time pushing this forward and things looked good. Then Mr. Stone contacted me and said that due to a new scheduling conflict, he could not do it when we had planned, so he would have to drop out. So I contacted Mohammad, and the contact person he had given me in the President's office and gave them the update. I thought perhaps we would regroup with a new director. End of story...

3 weeks later, the news relates that the President's office sent a message to Mr. Stone saying Mr. Stone had been refused and was part of "The Great Satan." No such message had EVER been sent, until it was published in the news. They had been informed that the project, with Mr. Stone on board would not go forward and had said NOTHING.

It is really unfortunate that something which in my opinion would have not only been really interesting, but provided a fair forum for President Ahmadinejad, was turned into a political statement. If he feels it is so important to have an open dialogue, the answer from his office does not express this! Even if President Ahmadinejad personally did not care for some of Mr. Stone's films, it is for certain that having him on board as director for this documentary would have presented President Ahmadinejad fairly.

So much is said about Western news not giving the other side a fair shake...but it works on both sides. I would still like to see this documentary get made, as I have nothing but admiration for the Iranian people and they have an amazing film community.

Friday, April 20, 2007

More Big Cats....

These are more cats from ADWC. Currently the facility is private and belongs to and is supported by HH Sh. Mansoor bin Zayed al Nahyan. It is moving to a bigger location with more space for the cats within a few months and the facility will be open to the public. The new facility is on the road towards to Emirates International Endurance Village.

Many of these cats are rescues from less than ideal situations and now live in a spotless, modern facility under the eye of Ronel Smuts, who is without a doubt, one of the most dedicated people to animal conservation I have ever met. What she has done is noting short or a miracle and without her devotion, many of these big cats would not be alive. Some of the stories about how some of the cats came to the center are horrific and both Ronel and HH Sh. Mansoor are to be commended on what has been accomplished.

The cheetahs represented at ADWC are Somali cheetahs and are an endangered sub species. The center has been successful in breeding the cats as Diego is proof of what dedication to saving these animals can do.

The black cat shown is a black leopard. The center also have tigers, caracals, jaguars and lions, a year old male lion Zulu, I was able to scratch him as well!

The ADWC does school programs to teach kids about animal conservation and why these are not pets in the hope that with education about these animals plight will bring a sense that we all need to work to keep these beautiful cats safe.

Please get involved, they will be looking for public support in the new center and what better than to be able to visit such amazing creatures and contribute to their survival.

Abu Dhabi Wildlife Center

Take a look at these babies! This is Diego the baby cheetah and Lilly, the serval cat. In the wild, they would never be together, but they have each other for company at the ADWC. Both were bottle fed babies as their mother's abandoned them.

We were guests at ADWC and what a treat seeing these big cats. I played with Diego as he is really outgoing and he purred like a kitty while being scratched. Then he wanted to play and took turns jumping on us! He reminds me of a Great Dane puppy, huge feet and long legs.

There is another pregnant cheetah who will deliver in about 1 month. While breeding cheetahs in captivity is not easy, so far, they have been successful.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Sunday April 8

I think I have finally recovered from Friday's event. Got the last people out on Etihad today (they were fantastic, thanks to DC there)

Here are some pictures from the Red Bull Air Races, they were great to send us as VIP guests, thanks to Antonis at Red Bull for taking such good care of us. These are of HH Sh. Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Sir Ben Kingsley and hey that's me, Sheikha M in the first photo.

Friday, March 30, 2007


We "do" the Friday morning breakfast here in AD. Today there were 7 of us, it's great as all are from somewhere else (plus our local friends)

The small town thing...when you go into the neighborhood restaurant, you know everyone. I like it, it does give you a sense of a neighborhood.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


More running around getting things in order...Everyone in States always asks about Dubai as it does have the most publicity. But I like Abu Dhabi better of the two.

Less traffic, easier to get around and after awhile you know everyone. In a way it's a pain because you cannot run out to the store looking like a total mess.

It's interesting on the UAE blog how a lot of people write about expats not fitting in to the country and just staying with expats from their own country. I have a few Nationals who are friends (guys and girls) and cannot imagine why one would be in a foreign country and not want to have friends who are from that country.

Maybe because LA is a melting place of different cultures as well, you just have friends who are from all different walks of life. My Arabic is not so great, but I am learning...I was NEVER good with languages.

Shameless plug...both Etihad and Emirates Palace Hotel (EPH) have been AMAZING with their support. If you have not seen the EPH, it looks like something from a movie...and check out the Manzil Center for Challenged Individuals. It's a worth while charity and Sandi Saksena (who also hs an investment advice radio show as well as a bit in the paper) who works with fund raising and Ayesha Saeed Husaini, who is Dubai's first licensed educational psychologist are both passionate about Manzil.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Well it seems we have getting everything in order for the premiere. Being that it's the first one here, it has been a bit hectic. The last 3 days I realize by 4PM that I forgot to eat...
Fortunately I have a great support here (LOTS of thanks to AJ) and in US (thanks CN, SS, CN, JB) so this does make it easier! I get asked a lot, "How do you do this?" DETERMINATION is about 95% of it and imagination, the other 5%.

I am looking forward to meeting Sir Ben Kingsley, he is an amazingly talented actor. The event benefits The Manzil Center for Challenged Individuals.

Now for those in LA who wonder about the Sheikha part...my friends here all have nicknames. Mine (I didn't choose it) became Sheikha. It's a loooong story....