John Atlas

Profile Updated: April 3, 2018
Residing In: Montclair, NJ
Spouse/Partner: Bonnie Friedman
Occupation: journalist, writer, public Interest lawyer
Children: Two great children. One graduated from Vasser, became a filmmaker, the other from Emory and will attend More…Columbia U for a masters in speech therapy.

Fresh from 3 prestigious film festivals, Reuben Atlas’s feature length documentary, Brothers Hypnotic, will have its New York premier at
Metrotech Commons
5 MetroTech Center, Brooklyn, NY 11201
May 17
For more info you can email me at

About the film: It's coming of age story about 8 young real life brothers, part of an extended family of 24 siblings, who grew up in the mean streets of south Chicago, in a utopian family experiment that included a vegetarian diet and band practice at 5am. Their father, jazz maverick and activist, Phil Cohran, forged the eight boys into a band, while playing with Sun Ra, mentoring Earth Wind and Fire and organizing to support creative African-American musicians.

An official selection at the SxSW film and HotDocs film festivals, the NJ screening is part of the Montclair Film Festival. If folks want more info they can call me at 973 746 6239. If you can't come but want to know about the New York premier and other theatrical dates please email at

More about The Film: This is a powerful, emotional, and humorous story about brotherhood, family, and ambition. Five years in the making, Atlas captures the brothers struggling to make a living in the streets of New York, while at the same time respecting their father’s sound and his ideal to make music that will uplift the community. Players in the industry, including Mos Def, Damon Albarn and Prince, drawn to the way the group is reinventing horns, funk and hip-hop, ask them to open for their acts, and feature them on album tracks. Meanwhile, Atlantic Records offers to sign a record deal. With stardom on the horizon, they must test their father’s ideals against their own vision in this thumpin’ look at the struggle to create and control.

“When a film successfully footnotes heavy-hitters like Prince, Sun Ra, Earth, Wind & Fire, Mos Def, and Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz), the main subject's gotta be tight…Director Atlas wisely lets the music play, capturing the ecstatic, rational exuberance of young men finding their own long tone.” - Austin Chronicle’s review of Brothers Hypnotic premier at the 2013 South by Southwest film festival.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR: Reuben Atlas, grew up in Montclair, NJ and is a NYC based producer, director, and lawyer. "Brothers Hypnotic" which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival is his first feature documentary and has received support from ITVS, the Jerome Foundation, the NBPC, NYSCA, and NTR Dutch TV. Currently, with funding from the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund and the IDA’s Pare Lorentz grant, he is co-directing and producing a film with Sam Pollard about the controversial community group, ACORN. He has also worked in Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles, taught English in Costa Rica, and worked at a maximum-security prison and at Legal Aid.

I have been on a book tour for the last year. I've spoken at dozens of conferences, colleges, and book stores. Did 62 radio interviews all over the country. This fall my book tour included U of North Carolina, Catholic University. Next stop U. of Albany, then to England: October 28: Manchester, England-- keynote speech kicking off Manchester Metropolitan University’s look at the UK government’s Big Society legislation,and a book signing at Blackwells.
October 31: 2 pm. University of London, November 2, University of Glasgow. Then 2 weeks at various colleges in California. If you know of any book stores, colleges or other forums that might be interested in inviting me to speak contact me at
John Atlas
74 Clinton Ave.
Montclair, NJ 07042
973 746-6239

After 22 years as the Exec. Dir of Passaic County Legal Aid Program, I decided to become a writer and journalist. My new book is SEEDS OF CHANGE.The Story of Acorn, America's Most Controversial Anti-Poverty Community Group. The back story to the explosive Fox News headlines on the path-breaking grassroots organization.

"From Vanderbilt University Press comes one of the most acclaimed, important, myth-busting books of 2010, a book that achieves nothing short of shattering misconceptions about one of the nation’s leading anti-poverty organizations. Seeds of Change goes beyond the headlines of the last Presidential campaign to expose what really happened in ACORN's massive voter registration drives, why it triggered an unrelenting attack by Fox News and the Republican Party, and how it confronted its internal divisions and scandals.

Fox News branded this organization “Pimp’s Best Friend.” Liberals recoiled from the headlines, without understanding the full story. Says author John Atlas at the beginning of this book: “For 40 years I worked on the frontlines of anti-poverty and social justice efforts and discovered how hard it is to make a difference.” He is the writer best suited to tell this tale, and this is the definitive account.
“A must read..." --William Julius Wilson, author, Harvard University

"... John Atlas combines scholarship, political insight, and powerful narrative writing in this essential book." --Robert Kuttner, author of Obama's Challenge, and co-founder, The American Prospect.
(Available at Amazon and the Progressive Book Club;

I also blog for the Huffington Post and the Star Ledger.

Graduated from U. of Miami; Boston U. Law School , George Washington Law Center (Masters of Law), Columbia Univ. (Revson Fellow.)

John's Latest Interactions

Hide Comments
John Atlas has a birthday today.
Jul 13, 2020 at 4:33 AM
John Atlas posted a message on David Pearl's Profile. New comment added.
Aug 11, 2019 at 11:51 PM

Posted on: Aug 11, 2019 at 11:48 PM

Well done, David. Thanks for posting.

John Atlas has a birthday today.
Jul 13, 2019 at 4:33 AM
John Atlas posted a message.
Nov 30, 2018 at 5:46 PM

happy birthday. Are the Knicks better than our great team?

John Atlas has a birthday today.
Jul 13, 2018 at 4:33 AM
John Atlas posted a message.
Apr 03, 2018 at 9:46 AM

My book, Seeds of Change, the Story of Acorn, America's Most Effective Anti-Poverty Group, inspired the film. And it will be shown nationally on TV PBS in May.

John Atlas posted a message. New comment added.
Apr 04, 2018 at 3:54 PM

Posted on: Apr 03, 2018 at 9:41 AM

My son's new film, ACORN and the Firestorm, which he co-directed with the legendary Sam Pollard, about the beautiful and controversial community organization, ACORN (and incidentally about fake news, gotcha journalism and the rise of Breitbart and Trump) is premiering this week at the Metrograph in Manhattan. Other cities to follow.

It opens this Friday in NYC, April 6th and will run for a week. The Attorney General of NY Eric Schneiderman will be speaking at the premier this Friday. The the theater is the cool Metrograph. It has a bar and restaurant. Hope to see you at one of the screenings.

I'd love for you to see it in the theater and could use your help spreading the word.

Showtimes and tickets here
Trailer here


John Atlas updated profile. View.
Apr 03, 2018 at 9:35 AM
John Atlas posted a message.
Nov 26, 2017 at 4:05 PM

Happy birthday. And update your profile!!

John Atlas posted a message. New comment added.
Oct 20, 2017 at 4:30 PM

Posted on: Oct 20, 2017 at 11:07 AM

Happy birthday. Btw you r lucky o live in a great city. Was in Austin a few years ago when my sons first documentary feature screened at SXSw.

John Atlas posted a message. New comment added.
Sep 19, 2017 at 8:57 AM

Posted on: Sep 18, 2017 at 1:45 PM

Happy Birthday. enjoy it and everyday

John Atlas has a birthday today.
Jul 13, 2017 at 4:33 AM
John Atlas added a comment on Profile.
Mar 15, 2017 at 1:12 PM
John Atlas posted a message. New comment added.
Mar 15, 2017 at 6:41 PM

Posted on: Mar 14, 2017 at 1:38 PM

ACORN AND THE FIRESTORM, a theatrical documentary based on my book will be one of the most important political films of the year and will debut at the TriBeca Film Festival April 23, 2017.

What makes it so timely is what happened when the founder of a little-known website,, working with two “journalists” posing as a fake pimp and prostitute, creates a scandal that kills one of America’s most successful anti-poverty groups: the 400,000 strong grassroots organization called ACORN?

This dramatic story takes you to the early stages of the conservative movement’s media strategy to weaken the pillars of the progressive movement by planting fake news stories to defame ACORN, discredit Barack Obama, destroy an effective social justice group and intimidate voices for progressive change.

The skills and strategies developed by those who took down ACORN were refined and applied against many others including Planned Parenthood, Shirley Sherrod and the NAACP, NPR, public unions, and Clinton. was the key to the strategy. Its former head has moved into Trump’s White House as his chief political strategist.

While the film details a sad moment in our political history, it’s not a story devoid of hope, and provides inspiration for the work ahead
Filmmakers: Award-winning filmmaker, Reuben Atlas (Sour Grapes, Brothers Hypnotic) and Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker, Sam Pollard (4 Little Girls, When the Levees Broke, Eyes on the Prize, and several films with Spike Lee).

John Atlas changed "Now" picture.
Mar 14, 2017 at 1:25 PM
John Atlas posted a message.
Oct 20, 2016 at 2:45 PM

Sandra, Happy birthday. I hope all is well with you. I only have 2 grandchildren. Lucky you. I do spend one day a week child-sitting, very exhausted at the end of the day, but i love it.

Jul 13, 2016 at 3:07 PM

Happy Birthday John
Leslie Kabot Pero

John Atlas has a birthday today.
Jul 13, 2016 at 4:33 AM
John Atlas posted a message. New comment added.
Oct 19, 2015 at 3:19 PM

Posted on: Oct 13, 2015 at 10:06 AM

Happy birthday. Wow 6 grandchildren. Lucky you. Hope all is well.

John Atlas posted a message.
Jul 15, 2015 at 1:27 PM

Hi Classmates. I write star ledger blog and Huffington Post blog. To find them google john atlas, star ledger and or john atlas huffington post. I am also working on a film based on my book. would love to get feedback from you all.