#9 Filthy Jews
Yep… that’s right.
That’s what she said. Along with a lot of other cultural, socio economic, anti semitic … ranting.
It was uncomfortable. Awkward. Confusing. I didn’t know how to react or respond.
It was a site visit, vetted in advance for security purposes, followed by a contractual phase, where we reviewed and built on project scope, followed by a week of installing the Christmas holidays.
It was November of 2001, just before Thanksgiving. Just across the street from The Beverly Hills Hotel. At Sharon Osbourne’s then home. The one before ‘ The Osbournes ‘ home we konw on MTV.
Sharon and Ozzy were married. The kids were young… Aimee was the notorious ghost she remains to this day, Kelly was tramping around, entitled as ever, in brand new Prada golf cleats on top of limestone floors thrilled to be opening her Christmas gifts early – a month early, and Jack… was just kind of there… swimming in some very large shadows trying to find his way.
Ozzy cracked me up. Kindest, gentlest guy who you couldn’t hardly understand. Waking up around 2 pm every day, inspiring me to incorporate bats into Christmas trees. But in actuality, decorating for a classic Englishman celebrating a holiday near and dear to his soul, with his family, on the verge of… crisis.
I’ve debated on whether or not to share this story.
Mine has been a career filled with hundreds. The latest headlines involving Sharon Osbourne and Meaghan Markle, however… have become too much. I am intimate to intimate knowledge here. And like so many in the public eye, setting examples for our fellows throughout the country and the world, its time to say something when those of us who have proximity know otherwise.
This has to stop.
On our first site visit, accompanied by their then Event Planner/Producer Randie Pelligrini, who has since passed from complications related to cancer, we walked and talked the entire house and property.
From the front yard facing the Beverly Hills Hotel, with bus loads of tourists making a stop to unload their gawkers, cameras in hands, shooting photos of the house of legendary Ozzie Osbourne [ this was well before selfies and selfie sticks ], on to the house’s innards – Entry Hall, Living Room, Dining Room, Family Room and Kitchen, and then off to the backyard. It was the backyard where we were to move into Phase II fulfilment, preparing for the annual Osbourne Christmas party – freezing the surface of the pool to create an ice rink, bringing in truckloads of artificial snow to blow into the sky and fall on to the event, populated by Hollywood’s glitterati of 2001, and lots of Christmas… green and red as far as you could see. This is Hollywood after all.
I was inspired! Truly I was. It would be the first time – and the last – that I could even contemplate incorporating bats into a Christmas tree! [ we did decide to pass on beheaded pigeons though! ]
The physical Sharon of today still shocks me. Please know that I have nothing against cosmetic surgery and enhancements. Especially if it is enhancing, confidence building, and relaxes to a natural look reflective of the person within. And Sharon does look great. For a human who has been through and seen all she has in her life, together with Ozzy, she looks great today. But at that time she didn’t. She was morbidly obese. And for a person of her stature – very petite in height – carrying all that weight was dangerous. I actually was shocked and sad for her. It was alarming. Her facial features were what they were… a bit more advanced and worn out for a woman in her ‘40’s at the time, but ‘ normal ‘ . The business manager and wife of an international rock icon. Of course she was tired. Since that moment she’s gone to great lengths to recreate her face, certainly. And together with the overnight drop of all that weight, I can hope she’s both physically and emotionally more aligned with who she wants to be. Germaine to this sharing, the creation of a new costume with a new mask, I’ve come to understand, speaks more to the person’s character behind the skin and garments, than it does to a path of self improvement. So, it remains sad. Sadly.
Walking, talking, getting comfortable with Sharon… it was too soon after, that all the alarming vitriol began.
It was Christmas. While there are several ways to celebrate the birth of Jesus, around the world, with varying cultural traditions and decorative items, it all tends to come back to some tried and true fundamentals – Christmas tree, decorative tree bulbs, the Virgin Mary, the baby Jesus, candles, tree skirts… this was going to be fun because there was a particularly ‘ English ‘ element to what Sharon wanted to see in their home. Something new for me to play with.
But it was soon into our first walk through that I learned the house was going on the market for sale. The market of 2001 wasn’t ‘ hot ‘ so there was an awareness of making sure it was marketable while celebrating the holidays. There was an obvious urgency that was manifesting in our conversations. I wasn’t an Agent so I needed to know more. The market then, in Beverly Hills, much like it is today, and much like it was when I was a kid growing up, had a large buyer audience of folks from different Asian cultures – China, Japan; from different Middle Eastern cultures – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel; … and others. We weren’t asked to incorporate cultural icons from any other place or religion, except for those from Israel, or to speak to those who identified as Jewish. Channukah always coincides with the Christmas season, as they both land in December together. For me personally, with so many Jewish friends, I always love the notion of the new ‘ Christmakkah ‘ … ; ]] With all due respect, of course, to both faiths, it just makes me smile. And feel joined up! And in a life spent at Temple Beth El in Riverside, California as a kid with so many Jewish friends and classmates, on to the incredible Jewish weddings I’ve had the opportunity to produce and witness over 30 years… I was impressed by Sharon’s consideration. But then the truth came out.
‘ Filthy Jews ‘
‘ Disgusting Kikes ‘
‘ Sheisty Jews ‘
‘ Fucking menorahs ‘
‘ Fucking dreidils ‘
‘ More fucking candles ‘
‘ They own this fucking town. I’m sick and tired of doing the shit we have to do so they can fuck us. ‘
… What the fuck. WTF. Shocking. What is gong on I asked myself as I tried to maintain a professional face and body language. Unexpected… rants. About, specifically, the buyers who would be looking at their home who were likely to be Jewish. And how Sharon, with Ozzy, and their children, had to bow down to ‘ the Mighty Jew ‘ to get their house to sale. I was told, specific to my work, to not make the home too Christian. Aside from being laughable after what she was outlining wanting, I just didn’t even know what to say. To remember to include ‘ Kikey ‘ elements in each room… that a ‘ fucking menorah outta do the trick for those filthy Jews ‘ .
Regret? I sure do.
The 31 year old me didn’t have the clarity, or the balls, to stop the vitriol, call her out for her behavior, and walk away. I regret that. I needed to do just that and walk away, never to look back. Truth – this one story, out of hundreds, has bothered me for two decades now. My behavior and courage were unacceptable.
I didn’t walk away though. I was building a business and a career. And while at that time names of noteriety – from the entertainment industry to business and politics – were quickly becoming my norm, I was wanting to make in-roads specific to the Beverly Hills community and, in addition to a great job, saw the Osbourne’s facilitating that for my business.
So, internally, we discussed as a design team the sensitivities of our client. That we knew walking in, that there was a deep disrespect for the Jewish people and their culture. That we were asked to buy and place menorahs in each room. And that we needed to be mindful of the Osbourne’s need to make their home marketable on the real estate resale market. Ok. We’re service providers. Have a job to do. Should have turned away. Didn’t. And needed to follow through for our client.
So we did.
As we were on site five days in a row, working about 10 hours per day, we often shook our heads – in disbelief of the things we were hearing. The things we were seeing. The nails on chalkboard moments where our skin crawled and our stomachs dropped by how repulsive so many moments were in her home. To be clear, importantly, this was Sharon. Aimee was never to be seen. Kelly and Jack were kids… they don’t deserve to be blamed for something a parent does. And Ozzy… was just a sweetheart. He truly was. This was Sharon. Huffing and puffing and ranting and raving – a forceful presence of malintent in each room she inhabited.
We did our job. Got’er done. And the house looked fantastic! Sharon and Ozzy were thrilled. I’m not sure the kids even noticed. So be it. And as we left on that final day, we turned our sights to the holiday celebration to come in middle December in a couple short weeks.
When we learned that our bill would not get paid. … Wait, what??
We did our work. Nailed it. Got exuberant praise from the client… why are we not getting paid?
I’ve got $ 32k on the table, the balance that needs to be paid. That’s a ton of money for me… why am I not getting paid??
Next chapter in this saga that speaks to character?
Long story short. The Osbourne’s were in bankruptcy talks and planning to bankrupt their estate to avoid paying a Himalayan mountain full of grossly past due debts. Like a mindless fly, I fell into the spider’s web unknowingly. One more reason I needed to walk away and have no regrets.
Back and forth and back and forth, I had to contract an attorney, George Tomlinson, a former entertainment tax law attorney, to assist me in filing suit and getting paid. Again, long – nerve racking – story short, we had to engage The National Enquirer and their photographers, file suit in LA Superior Court, and then have everything staged and ready for the Osbourne’s to be served at their front door by the LA County Sheriff with the National Enquirer photographers on the ready to shoot Sharon receiving service papers at her front door, with writers on the ready to write. All in order to get paid.
Two hours before being served, we received a call from Lew Wasserman’s office, the Osbourne’s money manager, that a cashier’s check was ready to pick up at their local Beverly Hills bank.
I retrieved it. Called George. The dogs were called off. And we walked away. There wouldn’t be a holiday party… obviously. And I prayed to God I would never see Sharon again.
If you’re wondering, as I was not, The Osbourne’s MTV show was the solution to following through with bankruptcy. Allowing, in fact, all the trades people and the General Contractor on that home to be paid, as the Osbourne’s intended to file bankruptcy against them as well while they took possession of the house and moved in.
What’s the point of all this? Mine is a first person account, testifying to the true character of a public figure, who has fashioned herself as a strong leading woman in the world of American culture. Who is, in fact, at her core an anti-semitic, racist, backward and wrong thinking, gross human being.
NOTHING about what Sharon Osbourne has found herself entwined in should come as a surprise.
Like so many in her profession, deeply misrepresenting themselves in the public eye for profit and gain, in this woke moment. Like many she needs to be officially removed from the stage. And if she elects to stay on stage, she needs to relocate to a more transparent and truthful stage where she’s more properly placed. I hope this moment does that for her. Its 20 years late in my experience. And shame on me for not saying something sooner. In the entertainment world where casting is so key to successful on screen chemistry and having messages heard, all of our media outlets need to dig deep, cut the shit, get real and know when they are supporting the messages of hate, division, race superiority, socio economic suppression. And for what? Good ratings. Knock it off. Fuck you. We are not stupid. And its time to change your playbook. We live in a different time.
At this last day of Passover, and on this day of Easter, we invite all those we love into our homes. The homes I’ve been blessed to pass in and out of for decades now, fulfill experiential new realities in, from interior design to celebrations, and to smile and hug and laugh and cry with some of the greatest people I’ve ever known.
Like the Jews, my Christian faith tells me: you always answer your door for someone in need. You always provide shelter for someone in need. You always provide a clean bed for someone who needs rest. And you always, like today, feast together – with one and all. Under skies blessed by God. With loved ones we are fortunate enough to have another day with.
At the beginning of our meal, when we break bread, we pray. And in this moment of continued awakening, around gross inequalities in our communities, we commit – in word and deed – to root out the evil, to support the transition to greatness, and to do our best to walk our talk and protect those in harm’s way.
To All celebrating the sacred holiday, on this concluding day of the festival, Happy Passover!
Chag Pesach samech!