Helen Hunt to headline book festival


Helen Hunt, the Oscar and Emmy Award-winning actress, whose TV, film, stage credits and awards make her one of the most sought-after entertainers, will be the 31st Annual St. Louis Jewish Book Festival’s headliner at its premiere kick-off event on Nov. 1, according to an announcement by Festival co-chairs Darla Grossberg and Gail Feldstein, and Marcia Evers Levy, Festival Director.

“We are absolutely thrilled that Helen Hunt will be our keynote speaker,” Levy said. “We had a terrific time with Helen’s Mad About You co-star Paul Reiser, when he opened the Festival in 2007. Paul had such a great time with us in St. Louis that he convinced Helen to accept our invitation to open this year’s Festival.”


The St. Louis Jewish Book Festival will take place at the new Staenberg Family Complex Jewish Community Center in Creve Coeur, Nov. 1 through 11, with a preview event on Oct. 29.

“Once again we have a fabulous lineup of authors, who will be speaking on a variety of topics: fiction, non-fiction, sports, caring for the elderly, military families, saving the environment, how to find a husband, friendship and so much more,” said Co-chair Darla Grossberg.

Co-chair Gail Feldstein noted the festival would again include a concert event with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and a Missouri’s Own Local Author Program.

The Festival will begin Sunday evening, Nov. 1, with keynote speaker Helen Hunt. The Emmy-, Golden Globe- and Academy Award-winning actress will be interviewed on stage by Charlie Brennan of KMOX News Talk Radio. Hunt will also answer questions from the audience.

Hunt, who is Jewish on the paternal side of her family, is a seven-time Emmy Award nominee, winning four times as Best Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Jamie Buchman opposite Paul Reiser in the NBC hit series Mad About You. Her work on that series also earned five Golden Globe Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award and three American Comedy Awards.

Hunt’s portrayal of a single mom/waitress in As Good As It Gets, opposite Jack Nicholson earned a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar. She previously starred in Twister, which won her a Blockbuster Award for Best Actress. She was most recently seen on Broadway opposite John Turturro in Life (x) 3 and in the 2008 film Then She Found Me, which Hunt wrote, produced and directed, co-starring with Bette Midler, Colin Firth and Matthew Broderick.

“Few actresses have been praised as highly as Helen Hunt,” Levy said. “From her work on the New York Broadway stage, to her film and television performances, critics continuously recognize her outstanding performances. What an honor it will be to welcome her as our Keynote Speaker at the 2009 Jewish Book Festival.”

After the presentation at the JCC, Hunt will be the guest of honor at the Gala Patron Dinner, co-chaired by Eileen Edelman, Kitty Gross and Judy Schwartz Jaffe, in the Versailles Ballroom at the Sheraton Westport Lakeside Chalet, with kosher catering by Steve Becker Fine Dining and music for dancing provided by Galaxy.

This year’s Festival will feature a special preview event on Oct. 29 with best-selling Vampire Series author Ellen Schreiber. Also scheduled to appear at this year’s Festival are: Bruce Feiler; William Cohan; A. J. Jacobs; Jan Goldstein; Cambria Gordon; Howard Megdal; Thomas Bloch; Lynne Greenberg; Eric Greitens; Alyse Myers; Alan Spector; Susie Essman and Jeffrey Zaslow. More authors will be announced as information becomes available.

The St. Louis Jewish Book Festival is the largest of its kind in the United States, and is open to the entire community.

Series tickets, which give admission to all the author programs at the Festival, including the Opening Night Keynote Event with Helen Hunt are $60, and go on sale in August.

Visit the Festival’s Web site for more information: www.stljewishbookfestival.org. For information on tickets, call the Festival Hotline at 314-442-3299.