In the Green Room

Big Sunday’s David Levinson

A Fan of Anthony Trollope ... and Bill Clinton

David Levinson

David Levinson is the founder and executive director of L.A. nonprofit and annual community service event Big Sunday, in addition to being a screenwriter. Before participating in a panel on the impact altruism has on our health, he sat down in the green room to talk about Bill Clinton, Anthony Trollope, and the futility of trying to talk your way out of a traffic ticket, even when your mom’s involved.


Q:
Who is the one person, living or dead, you’d love to have a beer with?

A:
Probably Bill Clinton. Because no one would be more fun to have a beer with than Bill Clinton.

Q:
What’s the best gift you’ve ever given someone else?

A:
When my wife’s grandmother turned 90, we sent her 90 balloons. It totally filled her house, and she was quite sick and so happy—she was talking about it until the end.

Q:
What’s your favorite condiment?

A:
Probably mustard. We actually have many types of mustard in my house.

Q:
When did you last get a traffic ticket?

A:
I got one for talking on my phone to my mother. I dropped my kids off at school and called my mom back east and tried to get out of it by telling the officer I was talking to my mom. I asked him if he had a mom. He laughed and gave me a ticket for $150.

Q:
Did you have any nicknames as a kid?

A:
I was called “Levo.” My brother was “Little Levo” because everyone at my camp had a nickname.

Q:
What superpower would you most like to have?

A:
The ability to fly. Sometimes I’ve gone skiing and it feels like I’m flying, and it’s sort of a nice feeling.

Q:
Are the stereotypes about Hollywood philanthropists not giving back to Los Angeles true?

A:
Absolutely not, in no way, shape, or form. Virtually every studio has donated to Big Sunday. Our biggest donors are largely entertainment people who have been incredibly generous, many of whom have been very lucky and they know it, and they’re incredibly philanthropic.

Q:
What’s the last great party you went to?

A:
When my daughter graduated from college in June, they just had a really great party on campus. It was thousands and thousands of people and bands, and it was kind of magical.

Q:
What teacher or professor, if any, changed your life?

A:
I had a professor in college who introduced me to the works of Anthony Trollope, to me the best writer ever, and I ended up writing my thesis on him. I would go to that professor and tell him, “Reading this guy has changed my life.” He’d say, “David, calm down.” He’s since passed away, but he was a wonderful teacher. His name was David Cowden. I’m sure he had no idea the impact he had. Today Trollope’s popular, but back then, in the late ’70s, you could barely find his books anywhere.

Q:
What do you consider beautiful?

A:
If you’re going to get sentimental about it, how incredibly nice people can be to one another. I’m amazed by that time and time again.