Storming Caesar's Palace

Storming Caesar’s Palace is the compelling story of how a group of mothers on welfare built one of this country’s most successful antipoverty programs.

Funding Initiative
Diversity Development Fund
Producer

Hazel Gurland-Pooler

Hazel Gurland-Pooler has contributed to documentary television and film production for more than ten years, including producing Storming Cesar’s Palace, which chronicles the activism of poor mothers in Las Vegas. She directed and produced a season of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and co-produced two of the six hours of the Peabody Show more Award-winning and Emmy Award-nominated series The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross.

Gurland-Pooler was the coordinating producer on the international PBS documentary Brazil In Black & White, which was nominated for IDA Award. She began her career at HBO, and worked on documentaries for PBS’ Frontline, AMC, ABC News, The History Channel, A&E, the National Geographic Channel, the Travel Channel, and the Sundance Channel. Gurland-Pooler received her M.S. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2001. Show less

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The Film

Storming Caesar’s Palace is the compelling story of how a group of mothers on welfare built one of this country’s most successful antipoverty programs. Declaring "We can do it and do it better," these women proved that poor mothers are the real experts on poverty. In 1972 they founded Operation Life, which was responsible for many firsts for the poor in Las Vegas: the first library, medical center, daycare center, job training, and senior citizen housing. By the late 1970s, Operation Life was bringing millions of dollars into the community.

These women became influential in Washington, D.C., respected and listened to by political heavyweights such as Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Ted Kennedy, and Jimmy Carter. Though they lost their funding with the country’s move toward conservatism in the 1980s, their struggles and phenomenal triumphs still stand as a critical lesson about what can be achieved when those on welfare chart their own course. Producer Hazel Gurland-Pooler brings to life the story, based on the book by historian Annelise Orleck.

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