Bio: Founder, The Survivor Mitzvah Project Producer/Director/Writer/Humanitarian Zane Buzby is a CNN Hero and recipient of the Anti-Defamation League’s Deborah Award for her humanitarian work helping Holocaust survivors in Eastern Europe and recording their experiences. She is also a television comedy director and producer, having directed over 200 episodes of network television. A native New Yorker, Zane Buzby graduated cum laude, from Hofstra University with dual degrees in Performance and Dramatic Literature. She began her show business career as an assistant film editor at The Beatles' Apple Films, where she worked with George Harrison and Bob Dylan on "The Concert for Bangladesh", and Chilean-French avant-guard Director Alejandro Jodorowsky on the English language versions of "El Topo" and "The Holy Mountain." A classically trained actor, Zane was discovered by Carl Reiner, first appearing in “Oh God”. She made her mark as a comedy performer in the cult classic, "Cheech & Chong’s Up in Smoke", eliciting praise from critics as staggering as Pauline Kael, starred opposite John Ritter in "Americathon”, was featured in Rob Reiner's hit comedy, "This Is Spinal Tap" and starred opposite Jerry Lewis in "Cracking Up." She then followed in the footsteps of Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese and others making her first feature for Roger Corman, “Last Resort” starring comedy legend Charles Grodin, Phil Hartman, and Jon Lovitz. Under the guidance of "Cheers" co-creator/director James Burrows, Zane studied multi-camera comedy directing and went on to a successful career, directing over 200 episodes of network television on such hit comedies as “Golden Girls”, “Married with Children”, “Blossom”, and the comedy concert "Women of the Night" starring Martin Short for HBO, becoming one of a select few female directors working in film and television. She has directed series and pilots for CBS, ABC, NBC, HBO, FOX, Columbia, Warner Brothers, Universal, Disney, Comedy Central, Paramount, and has development deals at Paramount and Castle Rock. Mentored by legendary film and television producer Edgar J. Scherick, Zane became his producing partner on several network television pilots and series including “The Rock” starring Joy Behar. Zane’s life took a dramatic turn during a “roots” trip to Eastern Europe to find the birthplaces of her grandparents. Along the back roads and remote villages of Lithuania and Belarus, she discovered elderly Holocaust survivors who were ill, alone, and living in abject poverty. Compelled to help these forgotten heroes, founded The Survivor Mitzvah Project, a non-profit 501c3 organization now providing thousands of elderly Holocaust survivors with lifesaving emergency aid, and a human connection that gives them renewed hope, dignity, and a sense of family. These survivors forgotten by the world are in desperate need of food, medicine, heat, and shelter. Zane believes that by helping the last survivors we can write a more hopeful final chapter to the Holocaust one of kindness, love, and compassion. Zane continues to utilize her directing and storytelling skills in her philanthropic work, producing, writing, and directing, "The Last Survivors – Echoes from the Holocaust", a nationally aired television special starring Ed Asner, Frances Fisher, Elliott Gould, Valerie Harper, and Lainie Kazan, highlighting the work of The Survivor Mitzvah Project. She has also created several short films shot in Eastern Europe and the Baltics about the work of The Survivor Mitzvah Project. Zane films the Holocaust survivors she visits on her humanitarian aid expeditions to Eastern Europe, and this never-before-recorded Holocaust testimony and video of places of historical interest, are added to The Survivor Mitzvah Project Holocaust Educational Archive, a unique repository of over 500 hours of video and thousands of pages of documents and photographs, all focusing on the “Other Holocaust”, the lesser-known, “Holocaust in the East.” Rich in history and Holocaust testimony, the archive contributes to a meaningful modern-day dialogue on social justice, tolerance for cultural differences, and an appreciation of human commonality, while standing as an important reminder to confront evil wherever it takes hold. For her extensive humanitarian work and her educational contribution to Holocaust studies, Zane was named a CNN HERO. She has also been recognized by the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum [USHMM] in Washington, DC. She has received the ADL/Anti-Defamation League's Deborah Award for leadership, KCET's Local Hero Award, and The Mensch International Foundation Award for her humanitarian and educational efforts. Along with the archive, Zane and her team have developed a learning APP to engage young people studying the Holocaust. Knowing that the mobile phone is the primary space young people occupy, the learning APP is designed to utilize social media and gamification as a way to immerse students in Holocaust studies in a compelling way in sync with the digital age. The APP can also be programmed to teach any subject, engaging students with a unique and exciting learning experience. To ensure that no Holocaust survivor who has experienced the darkest days of human history will ever be hungry, cold, or neglected again, Zane continues to seek out more Holocaust survivors who are in critical need and bring them into The Survivor Mitzvah Project's Emergency Aid Program so that they, too, may begin their journey of comfort, care, and dignity. SMP’s efforts extend to war-torn Ukraine where humanitarian help continues to be urgently needed. Zane’s love of history also prompted her to create The Lower East Side Restoration Project, which focuses on objects brought to the New World by the immigrants who fled the hunger, poverty, and tyranny of their native lands and came to America in the late 1800s and early 1900s during the Great Immigration. The project also provides history about the immigrant metalsmiths from Russia, Poland, and Ukraine, who populated New York’s Lower East Side during the last century and were recruited to help build war ships in the Brooklyn Navy Yard during WWII. With her abundant passion and dedication, Zane has one foot in comedy and the other planted firmly in the Holocaust and considers the creation of The Survivor Mitzvah Project and The Survivor Mitzvah Project Holocaust Educational Archive to be her greatest life achievements.
Request an Introduction