The Adilmans I knew


Like many of the “old” Variety staffers I admired and respected, Sid Adilman was someone I did not know very well on a personal level.

During my Variety tenure, the Adilman I knew much better was Toshiko, Sid’s wife. Mrs. Adilman is a professional Japanese-English translator of the first order. She regularly worked for high level governmental organizations in Canada, and commanded fees commensurate with her lofty professional status.

She happened to be in Japan during one of my periodic jaunts there in the Eighties, and “volunteered” (that is, she was paid far less than usual for her) to handle the translations. I saw first hand why Toshiko’s ability was so highly regarded. Her translations of formal and informal conversations with film and tv industry types in Tokyo that trip were astoundingly fast and facile. Toshiko could translate from one language to the other idiomatically and instantaneously, a huge help in keeping conversations flowing and coherent.

My impression at the time was – Sid Adilman displayed great taste in marrying such a personable and intelligent woman.

As it turns out, Sid was always a man of class. We used to go out to dinner occasionally in Toronto, and the eateries that Sid picked out were invariably excellent (and on the pricey side). Sid combined the taste of a gourmand with the enthusiasm of a Variety trencherman confronting a lavish buffet.

Sid was in his own way a man of stubborn principle. I recall him telling me why he left Variety in the late Eighties, shortly after “the sale.” He said the new Variety editor (the one after Roger Watkins) had ordered him to pen a hatchet job on a prominent Canadian film producer whom the editor didn’t like. Sid felt such an attack would have been unfair and unjustified, and refused the assignment. He departed Variety soon after.

Sid’s main “gig” was entertainment writer, editor, columnist at the Toronto Star, the city’s biggest daily. In that capacity he was relentless in tracking down Hollywood types who pour into Toronto during that City’s key film festival. One morning at the glossy Four Seasons hotel, I viewed Sid in action. Although he pretended to be concentrating on our breakfast conversation, I noticed that his eyes scanned the room constantly, looking for prospective actor-director-producer interviewees.

When I joked about his lack of attentiveness, Sid dropped all pretense and swung his head around repeatedly – think Linda Blair in “The Exorcist” – until spotting his prey. In short, Sid was a knowledgeable, energetic and highly tenacious show biz journalist.

My condolences to Toshiko and to Mio and Nobu. Let’s all raise a glass to Sid’s memory.