Entertainment behind the scenes
Obama’s top aide comes with Hollywood connection
Barack Obama’s first appointment as U.S. president-elect comes with an inside-Hollywood connection. His newly chosen White House chief-of-staff-to-be, Illinois congressman Rahm Emanuel, is the older brother of Ari Emanuel, a founding partner of the A-list, Beverly Hills-based talent-management firm Endeavor.
So colorful and well-known a showbiz figure has he become that he inspired the character of the sly Hollywood agent Ari Gold, played by Jeremy Piven, on the HBO series “Entourage.” The role has earned Piven two Emmy Awards.
The younger Emanuel broke away from the talent agency ICM in 1995 to help start Endeavor, which has since grown into one of the leading deal-brokers in the entertainment industry with a client roster that includes Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jude Law, Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Adam Sandler and Steve Carell. Among the stars he personally represents are Larry David, Michael Moore, Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Wahlberg.
Having grown up in suburban Chicago, Ariel “Ari” Z. Emanuel is the youngest of three brothers — Ezekiel , an oncologist and bioethicist, and Rahm, a former aid to President Bill Clinton who later was elected to the House of Representatives from Illinois and became a confident of Obama. Ari Emanuel, too, has been active in Hollywood political circles, hosting fundraisers for Democratic candidates that included a $2,300-per-plate event for Obama during his presidential campaign.
Their father is a Jerusalem-born pediatrician who was active in the pre-independence Israeli underground, and their mother was a social activist and onetime Chicago-area nightclub proprietor.
In 2006 Ari Emanuel made headlines when he publicly condemned actor-director Mel Gibson for making anti-Semitic remarks at the time of his arrest for drunken driving. Emanuel called then on others in Hollywood to show their outrage by ”professionally shunning” Gibson.