Michael Milken in conversation with John Landis

Wednesday 29th October

“A problem”, says Michael Milken, “is something you cannot solve with money”. The financier and philanthropist was speaking about how cancer had ravaged his family, and his support for medical research, which paralleled his business career beginning in the 1970s. It was a rare sombre moment during a 90 minute joke-filled conversation between Milken and his friend, the legendary filmmaker, John Landis, at The Alan Howard Foundation / JW3 Speaker Series on 29th October, during which they discussed topics ranging from creativity to capitalism.


Despite their different career paths, the speakers found they had shared similar experiences. Leading the conversation in-front of a sell-out audience, Milken said that just as he had taken risks in business, so Landis had done the same when making a movie like An American Werewolf in London, which some in the film industry had said would be too funny to be a horror movie, and too horrifying to be funny.

Combining humour and horror was Landis’s way of challenging superstition. “How do you deal with the impossible?”, he said, “how do you deal with something that isn’t true?”.

The conversation revealed how both men had supported America’s black community. Milken by raising capital for black business leaders, and Landis by making The Blues Brothers film, which helped revive Rhythm and Blues music and the careers of black musicians like Aretha Franklin.

But it was class that concerned them most. Milken, as a state school-educated Californian was not part of the eastern financial establishment, and Landis said his film Trading Places reflected how new blood like Milken was transforming the financial sector. “Trading Places is not about race,” said Landis, “It is about class and opportunity.”

This was the second conversation held in The Alan Howard Foundation / JW3 Speaker Series which features conversations, talks and entertainment delivered by leaders and experts in their respective fields who can provide a unique insight into their chosen topics. The lectures are designed to cover broad areas of intellectual thought, including economics, science, history, politics and the arts. The principal aims of the series are to educate and entertain through high level conversation and debate, whilst delivering a rich, diverse and inspiring range of speaking events.

Each event will be held at JW3 in London, a brand new, state-of-the-art community and cultural venue, established for the benefit of the Jewish community, the local community, and for the people of London. Next in conversation will be Anselm Kiefer, the German painter and sculptor, and Tim Marlow, Director of Artistic Programmes at the RA, on 18th November.


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