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August 11, 2014 7:33 pm

Hollywood Boss Says 500, Including Senior Execs Expressed Support for Criticism of Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Ryan Kavanaugh. Photo: Twitter.

Top Hollywood executive Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO of Relativity Media, told The Hollywood Reporter last week that he received more than 500 calls, emails and texts from stars and high-ranking industry executives who backed up his recent stance against anti-Israel celebrities.

Kavanaugh was the first studio head to speak out publicly against an open letter penned by couple Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem on July 25 about Israel. The Spanish actors accused the Jewish state of committing genocide during its current military operation in the Gaza Strip and blamed the conflict on Israel, which they said “keeps advancing on Palestinian territories instead of withdrawing to the 1967 borders.”

On Aug. 2, Kavanaugh told THR that the letter, which was signed by 100 film industry professionals, “makes my blood boil.” He added, “As the grandson of Holocaust survivors, I know that anyone calling what’s going on in Israel ‘genocide’ vs. self-defense is either ignorant and shouldn’t be commenting or is truly anti-Semitic.”

Relativity Studios has produced, distributed or structured financing for more than 200 motion pictures, generating more than $17 billion in worldwide box-office revenue and earning 60 Oscar nominations.

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Other studio executives, speaking anonymously to THR, said they feel the same way as Kavanaugh. One said he is “furious at Javier and Penelope” and questioned whether he would want to work with the couple again.

Among popular celebrities, Howard Stern and Joan Rivers have also expressed support for Israel and Ray Donovan actor Jon Voight wrote an open letter demanding that Cruz and Bardem “hang your heads in shame.”

“I am asking all my peers who signed that poison letter against Israel to examine their motives. Can you take back the fire of anti-Semitism that is raging all over the world now?” he said. “You should hang your heads in shame. You should all come forth with deep regrets for what you did, and ask forgiveness from the suffering people in Israel.”

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