Paul Reiser to keynote Book Festival


This fall, St. Louis is going to be “mad” about Paul Reiser. At least that’s the prediction from organizers of the 2007 St. Louis Jewish Book Festival. The annual event has snagged Reiser, one-time star of the hit sitcom Mad About You, as its keynote speaker this November.

“He’s everything that we would want,” said Alice Ludmer, co-chair of this year’s festival committee. “It’s someone that quite honestly we have been pursuing for years. When the phone call came through we were just thrilled.”

Reiser is the author of the books Couplehood and Babyhood, which Ludmer said both made the New York Times Bestseller list. In addition to his work with Helen Hunt on Mad About You, he has had roles in several movies and now has his own production company.

“I have received nothing but positive responses, even from people who’ve said, ‘I wasn’t sure if I was coming but Paul Reiser made it so that I’m definitely coming’,” Ludmer said.

Fellow co-chair Sheri Sherman concurred calling Reiser “positive, charming and witty.” She said she thinks he’ll be one of the event’s best speakers ever.

“He’s very Jewishly connected,” she said. “I’m sure when he talks he’ll make his Jewish roots an important part of his presentation.”

Marcia Evers Levy, director of the festival agrees. She said the festival expects to sell out Reiser’s opening night talk.

“I know that we’re going to have a wonderful evening,” she said. “He is just charming and so pleasant and we’re looking forward to having him in St. Louis and at the festival.”

Levy said that Reiser will be interviewed by St. Louis Post-Dispatch film critic Joe Williams and then take questions from the audience. He will then sign copies of his books and Mad About You and other DVDs.

Levy also noted that Reiser won’t be the only draw to the event. The line up for this year’s festival will include other big names like Ambassador Dennis Ross, Naomi Ragen and Dr. Arthur Agatston. The event will run from Nov. 4-14 with a special family event Nov. 15. In a special pre-festival event, Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman will also be visiting the area. Foxman is scheduled to speak Oct. 22.

This will be the 29th year of the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival, which organizers say is the largest Jewish book festival in the nation. Keynote speakers in recent years have included such names as Goldie Hawn, Marlee Matlin and Fran Drescher. William Shatner gave last year’s opening talk.