Jay Leno makes comeback in Israel
JERUSALEM - The Associated Press
Jay Leno will return to Israel in June to host the award ceremony for the second annual ‘Genesis Prize.’ AP Photo.Jay Leno is making a comeback - in Israel. The late-night legend says he will return to Israel in June to host the award ceremony for the second annual “Genesis Prize.” Leno also hosted the inaugural ceremony last year for what is billed as “the Jewish Nobel Prize.”
The $1 million prize is being awarded to Oscar-winning actor Michael Douglas in recognition of his “passion” for his Jewish heritage and Israel.
Leno said he was thrilled to be invited back, comparing the warm welcome he received last year to a raucous Italian wedding.
He said he felt that people seemed especially appreciative of his decision to visit at a time when entertainers are under pressure to boycott Israel over its policies toward the Palestinians. “Israelis are thrilled when you actually show up,” he said.
Leno, who is not Jewish, described himself as a big supporter of Israel, and said he disagreed with critics who portray the country as an aggressor.
The Genesis Prize Foundation said the June 18 ceremony will include a tribute to Douglas, a celebration of the contribution of Jews to Hollywood and Broadway and a segment on diversity and tolerance.
Douglas, whose father, actor Kirk Douglas, is Jewish, has said he will donate his prize money to projects that promote inclusiveness in the Jewish community.
Leno said he is already gathering material to make fun of Douglas, a longtime acquaintance, as well as the country’s politicians. Hundreds of VIPs, including the prime minister, are expected to attend.