Ariela Barer, Jackie Hoffman and Josette Alpert

Nate Bloom blogs on this week's Jews in the News.


Terrorists or Heroes?, Grease, the Prequel, Newman's Natural Preservative, More


The indie film "How to Blow Up a Pipeline" opens in theaters on April 7. Okay, I know most of you are not going to rush out to a theater to see a smallish budget film. You should, however, put it on your “should stream in the future” list. "How To" got good advance reviews by respected critics following film festival showings.


"How To" is a political thriller. It’s about a group of eight, young environmental activists who try to prevent the development of an oil pipeline by resorting to sabotage. Most of the film is set in West Texas.


The film is based on a 2021 non-fiction book of the same name. The author, Andres Malm, used the history of social justice movements to argue that property destruction should sometimes be considered a valid tactic.


The film was co-written by actress ARIELA BARER, 24, and (director) Daniel Goldhaber, 30. He may be Jewish---still checking.


Barer also co-stars in the film. She was born in Los Angeles. Both her (Jewish) parents were born and raised in Mexico. In one interview, Barer said that most of her extended family still lives in Mexico and she frequently visits them.


Barer first got noticed for playing (2017) a recurring role on the Netflix reboot of 1970s sit-com "One Day at a Time". The reboot made the One Day family Hispanic. Barer played Carmen, the “Goth” friend of the teen daughter in the family. Then she got a co-starring role in Runaways, a Marvel Universe series that streamed on Hulu. For three seasons (2017-19) she co-starred as Gertrude Yorkes, one of six teen “runaways” with super powers.


"Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies" began streaming on Paramount+ on April 6.  "Rise" takes place in 1954, four years before the events of "Grease" (the movie) and it chronicles the events that led to the creation of the Pink Ladies.


JACKIE HOFFMAN, 62, co-stars as Asst. Principal McGee. Canadian actress JOSETTE ALPERT, 28, has a  large recurring role as Dot. Her father is of Hungarian Jewish background. Her mother is Dutch. It’s unclear if her mother is Jewish.


Last November, I wrote that a NY Times book review of "Paul Newman: An Extraordinary Life, A Memoir", said that NEWMAN was involved in an anti-Semitic incident while serving in the Navy during WWII. I noted that this incident (in the memoir)---or virtually anything else “Jewish”—wasn’t in an HBO series about Newman which premiered last July. I wrote that I’d get the just published memoir and report on what other Jewish “nuggets” were in the memoir.


Sadly, there isn’t much Jewish stuff in the memoir. The reason is clear: Newman decided, ultimately,  to not write a memoir. But audio tapes of some his memories survived and his children decided to have them organized into a memoir. But there are huge gaps in his life---almost decades.


There is a lot, in Newman’s memoir, about the difficulties of being “half Jewish” before he was 18. But its sad stuff and I will relay it in another column.


I found on the library shelf another, much more upbeat Newman bio ("Paul and Me"). It was written by his Jewish pal of 53 years, writer A. E. HOCHTNER (1917-2020). It came out in 2010, two years after Paul’s death.


Here’s a fun part: Paul long made his own salad dressing and friends loved it. Newman and Hochtner thought they could make a quick buck selling it.  To confirm it would sell they asked Martha Stewart, a neighbor, to put on a blind tasting test for partygoers. Newman’s dressing won the test going-away.


Finding a bottler was very tough. Finally, one was found.  But there was another bottleneck. The bottling company CEO told them that they had to use artificial preservatives because no store would stock dressing that didn’t have a long shelf life. Newman insisted on no preservatives and when the lab tests came back—Paul’s dressing had a natural preservative—the heavy dollop of mustard seeds he used in his dressing emitted a preservative!


After all this tsuris---the two guys reacted unlike most people. They said: What the hell, give all the profits away!  To date, Newman’s Own products have donated over $500M to charity. 


If you don’t get CNN, you can still watch a tape of ADAM SANDLER being presented the Mark Twain Humor Award (Mar. 23). The ceremony was held at the Kennedy Center.  It’s now on Youtube. Simply enter “Sandler Mark Twain Award” or just search for the Kennedy Center Youtube channel. As previously noted, many top comics feted Sandler. Each comedian/speaker gets their own Kennedy Center channel video.


Add Comment