Steven Spielberg Donates $1 Million to Human Rights Watch

Spielberg at the Kennedy Center
Steven Spielberg at the Kennedy Center Honors, Photo: ©PATRICKMCMULLAN.COM

East Hampton’s Steven Spielberg and wife Kate Capshaw has donated $1 million to the Human Rights Watch in honor of the late producer Sid Sheinberg, who hired Spielberg for his first TV job 50 years ago. Sheinberg died this past March at 84 years old.

“Sid was empathetic and perceptive, and absolutely committed to human rights for all. He and his wife Lorraine charmed and cajoled their incredible network of contacts to help build Human Rights Watch into an international powerhouse. We’re so grateful for having Sid as part of the Human Rights Watch family, and to Kate and Steven for extending Sid’s legacy with this extraordinary gift,” Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth told The Hollywood Reporter, noting that Sheinberg was an advocate for giving LGBT employees same-sex benefits at the height of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

Spielberg and Capshaw’s donation will be used to fight discrimination and unfairness in the US justice system. Sheinberg offered Spielberg his first job in 1969, directing an episode of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery series. The two worked together on various high-profile projects, including Jaws, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List and more.

The legendary filmmaker is currently filming West Side Story, a new adaptation of the beloved Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim musical about an interracial romance between two teens that sparks a gang war in 1950s Manhattan. Rita Moreno, who starred as Anita in the original 1961 film adaptation, will play Valentina, a newly created character for the update. The film also features Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler as star-crossed lovers Tony and Maria. West Side Story will be released on December 18, 2020.

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