Culture and Substance in Hollywood – Is this an Oxymoron? Meet Sharon Waxman …

Not all journalism is equal in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Hollywood. The vast majority of print media seems to focus on the gossip and photos that will sell the glossy magazines at the check-out stands. Now, meet a refreshing and multi-faceted Hollywood reporter of substance: Sharon Waxman. She’s is a modern day mix of journalistic tenacity, like Barbara Walters, with the drive and ambition of Warren Buffet.

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With two books under her belt, Waxman can add Author to her growing list of skills: Hollywood reporter for The New York Times, Culture Correspondent for The Washington Post, and most recently, founder and Editor-in-Chief of an on-line Hollywood publication focusing on the entertainment industry. She’s also a wife and mother of three.


I befriended Sharon at Oxford University when we were both full of dreams and ambition, but keeping up with the “Wax” was something I would continuously strive to do. Twenty years or so ago (give or take a few, but I’m not telling how many exactly!) Waxman ventured into the hot desserts of the Middle East to do research for her post graduate thesis, and became entranced with the historical value of that region. Somewhere along the line, she got sidetracked with the pursuit of her journalistic goals and family life, so the gutsy reporter from Cleveland, Ohio returned to the USA to start a new career.


Her recent book on antiquities and the struggles some countries are facing to either retain their historical treasures or regain them, is the focus of this recent publication. It took her three months of travel in four countries to discover that this battle has been ongoing for ages, and that it will probably continue to be so for the many reasons uncovered in her book: “LOOT: The Battle over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World” (Times Books, 2008).


Sharon is not a stranger to knocking on foreign gates and asking the tough questions. To gain access to many of the treasures discussed in her book, she went on an archaeological type excavation, digging in places like the Ministries of Culture in Egypt, Greece and France, talking to the Ministers themselves to get answers to the questions most of us fleetingly think about while admiring the antiquities like the Elgin Marbles at the British Museum in London, England — we only briefly even acknowledge they are of Greek origin, and that they were once part of the Parthenon! This is the case with many artifacts placed in world class museums, and which few know, or even care, how they got there!


“LOOT” attempts to enlighten us about the provenance and present state of many art treasures we have become accustomed to seeing in museums like The Met, The Getty, The Louvre, and in even in our own Mingei Museum in Balboa Park (which made the last chapter of her book), and are being demanded back by their country of origin. But, where do they really belong? Is Greece equipped to take the necessary care of the Elgin Marbles so that the world can still see them another 500 years from now?  This is only one of the contentious questions Waxman sought to answer in “LOOT”. Did she?


You can ask her yourself when she visits our fine city on March 7th. Join us for what will certainly be a very enlightening discussion of this topic. Enjoy a Wine and Cheese reception (Co-Hosted by Chance Bistro) after her presentation at the University of San Diego. And, who knows, we might even find out how a Hollywood reporter wound-up becoming a reporter of substance, or is it the other way around?



This event is open to the public.




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