Jay Leno returning as host of Genesis Prize ceremony — this time for Michael Douglas


(JTA) — For the second time, former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno will emcee the Genesis Prize award ceremony in Israel.

The Genesis Prize Foundation made the announcement in a news release on Monday. Actor Michael Douglas will receive what is billed as “the Jewish Nobel Prize” on June 18.

Leno, who is not Jewish, hosted the inaugural ceremony last year, when former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg received the $1 million prize.

The comic told The Associated Press on Monday that he was pleased to be invited back and described himself as a big supporter of Israel.

“It seems like they [Israel] have the worst PR in the world,” Leno said. “I don’t understand how Israel is the bad guy here. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Leno praised the warm welcome he received in the Jewish state, noting, “People run over, and the grandmas pinch your cheeks. So that was kind of fun.”

Douglas has said he will donate the $1 million award to causes that promote greater inclusiveness in the Jewish community, the Genesis Prize Foundation said.

“Michael Douglas has chosen to invest the prize award into initiatives which will resonate with Jews like himself — those who come from parents of mixed heritage who wish to be part of the Jewish community,”Stan Polovets, co-founder and chairman of the foundation, said in the news release.

Douglas, the son of famed actor Kirk Douglas, identifies as Jewish. His mother is not Jewish.

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