Last week, we discussed a very odd item in Page Six about Greta Gerwig, someone who is rarely – if ever – discussed in tabloid reporting. Gerwig is a well-respected actress, mostly in quirky, indie films, and she’s directed her first solo project, Lady Bird, which has wowed critics and audiences at various film festivals already this year. Many people believe Lady Bird will be a major Oscar contender, especially for Best Actress for Saoirse Ronan, and possibly for Gerwig as director. I felt like the Page Six item was about Lady Bird’s incipient Oscar campaign, that certain people were trying to burn her early on in the season, that someone definitely wanted people to know that Greta Gerwig once… signed a letter encouraging the Lincoln Center to ban an Israeli play. There are few subjects more touchy and third-rail-y in Hollywood than support for Israel, so yeah… I’m sure there are some people ready to “cancel” Greta based solely on her signature on one petition. I guess Greta knew that too. Because now she’s offering an apology:
Greta Gerwig — a potential Oscar frontrunner for her upcoming directorial debut “Lady Bird” — has exclusively told Page Six that it was a mistake to lend her name to a letter asking Lincoln Center to ban an Israeli-backed play. Page Six previously reported that Gerwig’s name appeared on a letter with over 60 artists calling on Lincoln Center to cancel performances of “To the End of the Land,” which is being presented “with support of Israel’s Office of Cultural Affairs in North America.” A source said, “There is an Oscar campaign afoot for Gerwig, and her team doesn’t want her controversial anti-Israel opinions hurting her chances.”
On Friday, Gerwig told us in an exclusive statement that she regrets signing the letter.
“This past summer, a close friend asked me to lend my name to a letter,” Gerwig wrote in a statement. “I am generally careful about the causes I support, but in this case I was not. I was unfamiliar with the complexities of the letter and I did not take the time to study them.”
She added, “Instead, because the letter had already been signed by many other friends and collaborators I know to be thoughtful and honorable people, I agreed to add my name. While I respect the passion and integrity of others who signed this letter, for me to put my name to something outside of my personal realm of knowledge or experience was a mistake — my mistake — and I am sorry for any confusion or hurt I may have caused.”
The letter was organized by Adalah-NY, which aims to boycott Israel, and was signed by artists including filmmaker Ken Loach, rocker Thurston Moore and playwright Tracy Letts. Lincoln Center president Debora Spar rejected calls for the play’s cancellation, as did a group of top Hollywood execs, including CAA’s Adam Berkowitz, WME’s Rick Rosen and producer Ben Silverman. They penned a response letter with 50 signatures saying, “Selectively silencing art is dangerous… Art unites us, and helps us get past what makes us different while connecting us at the core of what makes us similar.”
That was one of the most diplomatic apologies I’ve ever read! She takes ownership of her mistake but makes it clear that she didn’t really study the nuances of the arguments for and against the ban. She’s still between a rock and a hard place because even if she wanted to speak with any kind of nuance about Israeli politics, she should find it difficult to support any kind of artistic ban… because it reads as censorship in a difficult time in this country, and around the world. Like, artists shouldn’t be censored or banned because of the actions of their state. That should be her new fall-back position. God, I hope this doesn’t haunt her Oscar campaign.
Photos courtesy of WENN.