Whenever I discover a gap in my television/pop culture culture, I have an immediate need to fill that gap. Aviva Kempner‘s documentary, Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, was an important person and project I knew nothing about. To fill this information chasm, I contacted Kempner for an email interview. As detailed at the Cielsa Foundation website: “Ciesla Foundation produces and distributes award-winning films about strong and important, but often unknown, Jewish heroes. Its mission is to educate and inform audiences about social and public interest issues of the past and present through storytelling and filmmaking….Award-winning filmmaker Aviva Kempner, whose credits include Yoo-hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, Today I Vote for My Joey, The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, and Partisans of Vilna, is Ciesla’s director and founder. Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg chronicles the “humorous and eye-opening story of television pioneer Gertrude Berg. She was the creator, principal writer, and star of The Goldbergs, a popular radio show for 17 years, which became television’s very first character-driven domestic sitcom in 1949. Berg received the first Best Actress Emmy in history, and paved the way for women in the entertainment industry.” My thanks to Kempner for her time. I hope the interview motivates you to donate to the foundation and to Kempner’s efforts.
Tim O’Shea: I’m sure you have many ideas for subjects to pursue, but after wrapping 2002’s Today I Vote for My Joey how many concepts (ballpark figure) did you consider and set aside before deciding upon Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg?
Aviva Kempner: I was thinking about doing a few dramatic scripts and did not get much further than research. I also had a couple more documentary ideas but none were fundable at first glance. Another one did receive research funds and am now happily back on working on that film on The Rosenwald Schools. Once I went to the Jewish Museum in New York’s exhibit of Jews Entertaining America and saw the Molly Goldberg living room I knew that was my next film project.