2011 Local Hero: Zane Buzby

Zane Buzby

"The real triumph for me is the discovery that one can dramatically change a person's life with a simple act of kindness...To have created a warm and loving family of strangers where before there was only isolation and hopelessness."

Zane Buzby is a successful television director, producer, and full-time humanitarian. She has directed over 200 episodes of network television including such hit comedies as "Golden Girls", "Newhart", and "Married...with Children". She has produced and directed television series and pilots for CBS, ABC, NBC, HBO, FOX, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures, Disney, Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures.

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Ms. Buzby began her professional career as a classically trained actor in New York. After being discovered by Carl Reiner, she was cast in the feature films Oh God and the cult classic, blockbuster hit Cheech & Chong's Up In Smoke. Her performance as hippie groupie Jade East received rave reviews from critics. Ms. Buzby also co-starred opposite Jerry Lewis in Cracking Up, and she also appeared in Rob Reiner's This Is Spinal Tap as a hip Rolling Stone reporter.

Ms. Buzby's life took a dramatic turn during a "roots" trip that she made to Eastern Europe in 2001. Behind the "Iron Curtain", she connected with a shockingly high number of elderly Holocaust survivors in their eighties and nineties who were impoverished, ill and alone. Many of them were barely able to survive, lacking the means to buy even the most basic of human necessities. Zane felt compelled to help; she corresponded extensively with the survivors that she had met and, through Professor Dovid Katz in Lithuania, expanded her search for others in dire need. Her initial aid efforts served as the catalyst for the creation of "The Survivor Mitzvah Project".

With the help of Chic Wolk, a local Los Angeles philanthropist, the SMP grew. In 2009, it became a 501c3 non-profit public charity that now helps over one thousand survivors monthly in seven countries. Ms. Buzby's small grassroots organization is the only organization worldwide that provides direct and continuous financial aid to these last survivors of the Holocaust.

Using her directorial skills and story-telling abilities, Ms. Buzby aspires to impart the history of these survivors to the local community, urging people young and old to participate in this urgent humanitarian effort. By filming the survivors she visits on her humanitarian aid expeditions to Eastern Europe, Ms. Buzby hopes to create a valuable and meaningful archive of eye-witness testimonies for posterity and educational purposes. In a tireless effort, Ms. Buzby helps these elderly and forgotten Holocaust survivors live out their final years in comfort and dignity, with friendship and hope.

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Zane is going to be on the Adam Carolla Podcast 10/26/11. Can't wait to hear what she has to say about her projects! http://bit.ly/dDjxwK