Non-jewish Actor to Host Television Special on Israel

Actor Kevin Costner will host a CBS television show celebrating Israel’s 50th anniversary.

The starring role for Costner, who is not Jewish, will help the show appeal to a wider audience, according to the its organizers.

The “America Salutes Israel at 50″ extravaganza will be held at the 6,400-seat Shrine Auditorium on April 14, and broadcast the following evening by the CBS television network across the United States — it will also be broadcast around the world.

At a recent planning meeting, organizers acknowledged the virtual meltdown of jubilee celebration plans within Israel and strains between the Jewish state and the Diaspora, but vowed to go all out in Los Angeles.

“It’s vital that people in Israel know that they still have the support of the rest of the world,” said honorary co-chairman Lew Wasserman, former chairman of the entertainment conglomerate MCA Universal.

Other plans for the two-hour program include a satellite linkup with Israel, film clips highlighting Israel’s history since independence and, possibly, a pre-taped musical performance from Masada.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Simon Wiesenthal Center will sponsor the show.

Two behind-the-Hollywood-scenes power hitters — Merv Adelson, former chairman of Lorimar Pictures, and Marvin Josephson, head of International Creative Management, the influential talent and literary agency — are overseeing the CBS special. They are also international co-chairmen of 50th anniversary celebrations worldwide.

The overall budget for the event is $6 million. CBS will pay half of that amount to broadcast the event, and the jubilee committee, headed by Adelson and Josephson, will raise the other half.

Tickets for the event will range from $18 to $1,000.

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