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'Dream' On

June 4, 2009 By:
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Jeremy Yaches
"In a Dream"? In a way, yes, avows Jeremy Yaches, the producer of the acclaimed documentary about the life and times, and tumult, of artist Isaiah Zagar, which had a nice run at the Ritz at the Bourse and is now headed to HBO this summer.

The award-winning film is no dis of a dysfunctional family, but an appreciation of all its sores and sore points, as well as the good times that audiences are treated to, as Zagar tiles his South Philadelphia neighborhood with his talent.

A family film? Very much so for Yaches, who's been like a member of the Zagar clan for years, breaking bread, breaking up in laughter -- taking a break from other everyday concerns -- listening in and latching on to this most unusual family.

Starting Herzliya Films -- which produced "Dream" -- was a product of that filial find: The company is named in honor of the Israeli city that served as a beachhead of sorts in the friendship between Yaches and fellow Akiba high school buddy Jeremiah Zagar, the director who put his father in focus in "Dream."

"Jeremiah and I were at Akiba at the time, doing a semester in Israel, attending the Alexander Muss High School," as part of a study-abroad program, when Jeremiah joined Yaches and another friend on a beach outing in Herzliya.

That's when the unscripted drama struck at the heart of what was a life-shifting scene.

"I was taking a swim in the ocean, and felt dizzy in the water; I fainted on the beach," he explained. Yaches had had open-heart surgery as a youngster, having "been born with one ventricle instead of two."

The heart-stopping incident brought the buddies even closer: "Jeremiah resuscitated me; it was a turning point in our friendship."

And his bud proved his bedside manners were born of the heart as well.

"He stayed with me, slept at the hospital while I was there," recalled Yaches.

From such a nightmare came Herzliya Films and "Dream."

"We trust each other," said the producer of the director with whom he has collaborated on other short films. "It is important to have someone you can trust in this business. He and I have been through a lot."

Through a lot, and up and about around the country as the movie is screened to acclaim and applause.

"I've always had high hopes for this film," said Yaches, especially charged up that it played the Ritz. "I was always going to the Ritz to see movies as a kid."

Indeed, the kid's a player now.

And he and Jeremiah can watch their documentary unspool from comfy chairs in front of a TV soon; well, it's not TV ... it's HBO.

Springing into action now promoting the film, Yaches practically jumped at the chance to give a shout-out to the cable giant's big-time "Dream" booster, Sheila Nevins, who "was important in getting this document on the network."

Most important for the producer was the colorful marriage he was able to splash on screen with "Dream."

"The reason I produced the movie ... it's a beautiful love story," he noted of Isaiah and wife Julia, even as the artist learned that love is, occasionally, having to say you're sorry.

Grateful is the producer -- whose bio boasts a number of music videos -- for all the support he received from so many, notably his proud parents, Barry S. Yaches and Iris B. Sitkin. Then there are the class acts and action by his own class at Akiba.

Break open the Manischewitz? The next sound you hear may very well be the high-fives greeting him at his high school alma mater.

Popcorn and applause ready to pop?

"We would love to have a special screening there," said the producer.

"That would be cool."  

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