Private screening of “Call Me Bill: The William Davidson Story” celebrates the life of the late philanthropist, entrepreneur and leader.

By Keri Guten Cohen

On Sunday night, March 28, several hundred guests attended a private screening of Call Me Bill: The William Davidson Story, a documentary about the life of the local philanthropist and longtime owner of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons.

Ethan Daniel Davidson, the film’s producer along with his wife Gretchen, introduced the film from the Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts with former Pistons’ star Isiah Thomas by his side. Davidson referred to Thomas as his “big brother.” Players from the Pistons’ Bad Boys (1989) and 2004 championship teams also were there. The Bad Boys also were in town celebrating their 30th anniversary.

While introducing the documentary, Davidson told the crowd his father “would absolutely not have tolerated any of this.” The film, which features historic photos, film footage and interviews with family members and those close to him in business and sports, pays tribute to Bill Davidson’s strong sense of family, his entrepreneurial spirit, his generosity and his leadership skills in business, sports and elsewhere.

Erica Ward Gerson, Dorothy Gerson, Henrietta Hermelin and Doreen Hermelin Courtesy Davidson Family


Karen Davidson, widow of Bill Davidson, and Dorothy Gerson, Bill Davidson’s older sister, and many other family members joined a crowd that included local rabbis, elected officials, community leaders and the documentary’s director Deb Agolli.

The film will be a free special kick-off event at 2 p.m. Thursday, May 2, for the annual JCC Film Festival (


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