For Moriah studio, celebs work for free

  • Updated: November 2, 2013 - 5:01 PM
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Master works: A visitor looked at work by the 17th-century Italian artist Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione at the Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace. The Royal Collection forms one of the largest groups of works by Castiglione, known for painting, printmaking, draftsmanship and inventing the monotype printmaking technique.

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One Hollywood film studio has commanded only A-list talent since its inception — Elizabeth Taylor, Morgan Freeman, Sandra Bullock, Michael Douglas, Nicole Kidman — and they all worked for free. What kind of studio head has such pull? It’s Rabbi Marvin Hier, the mini-mogul of Moriah Films, the movie division of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Founded by Hier in 1981, Moriah Films has won two Oscars for its historical documentaries. Its latest effort, “The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers,” featuring the voices of Bullock and Christoph Waltz, opens Wednesday in Los Angeles and expands to more cities next month.

“We just finished our 13th film, and every top name in Hollywood that has recorded — and it’s an A list — has done it as a public service,” Hier said during an interview at his office at the Wiesenthal Center.

It all started with Elizabeth Taylor.

Hier established Moriah Films just a few years after opening the Wiesenthal Center in 1977. U.S. Sen. John Warner was involved with the center at the time — and was married to Taylor — so she became the narrator of its inaugural film “Genocide,” which won the Oscar for documentary feature.

The dozen movies Moriah Films has made since have attracted such stars as Kevin Costner, Whoopi Goldberg, Brooke Shields, Dustin Hoffman and Ben Kingsley.

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