Jews in the News: Shia LaBeouf, Joan Lunden and Paula Abdul

At the Movies: Opening Friday October 17

“St. Vincent” is a comedy/drama which seems tailor-made for Bill Murray’s talents. Vincent (Murray) is an acerbic, heavy-drinking gambler who lives a pretty bare existence in a section of Brooklyn that is still dominated by less-than-rich Jews, Italians, and Irish. Things change when Maggie (Melissa McCarthy), an x-ray tech who has just broken up with her husband, moves in next door with her 12-year-old son, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher). Maggie enrolls Oliver in a nearby Catholic school, despite the fact that he is Jewish. The undersized Oliver gets picked-on, but coming to his aid is a very nice Catholic priest (Chris O’Dowd). Meanwhile, Maggie’s long work hours force her to get child care for Oliver and Vincent, who is home most of the time, is the logical sitter choice. As one might expect, Vincent exposes Oliver to horseracing, bars, and his stripper “friend” (Naomi Watts). On the other side, Oliver awakens Vincent’s grandfatherly instincts.

Advance articles about “Fury” describe it as one of the most gritty and violent war movies ever made. As the film opens, it is early April 1945, and everyone knows that the war in Europe is almost over. Brad Pitt plays “Wardaddy” a battle-hardened army sergeant who is sent, with his five-man Sherman tank crew, on a deadly mission behind German lines. The tank crew includes three Jewish actors (JON BERNTHAL, 38, SHIA LABEOUF, 28, and LOGAN LERMAN, 22). Also in the cast is JASON ISAACS, 52, as a captain who is Wardaddy’s mentor.

Two footnotes of sorts 1) Lerman, in a very recent podcast interview with actor MICHAEL RAPAPORT, 44, mentioned he had a bar mitzvah. LaBeouf has previously mentioned his bar mitzvah. Not sure about the other two Jewish actors—but the possibility of four ex-bar mitzvah boys-- in a tank---is there. (2) The German Tiger tank, which was much better armored and had much more firepower than the Sherman, shocked American crews who came-up against it at war’s end.  Authentic (antique) Sherman and Tiger tanks, procured from museums, were used in filming.  The authenticity of the tanks and other props (like uniforms)—was matched by the four months of rigorous, pre-filming training that director/writer David Ayer put the cast through. Lerman recently told “Vanity Fair”:  “He [Ayer] had us sparring and fighting every day [before filming began]—all of us getting together at five A.M. and working on techniques, and then just getting into a ring to fight each other. It was part of our whole violent psychological training for going to war.’…[later, during filming] ‘There were days when we wouldn’t go home. We would sleep out by the tank, just wake up there and get back to work. We would just live in that tank. It was our home for those five months.”

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Think Good Thoughts; Say Prayers; Donate What You Can

JOAN LUNDEN, 64, and PAULA ABDUL, 52, are personally and very actively involved in the fight against breast cancer. Lunden, the former host of “Good Morning, America”, disclosed that she had breast cancer last June. She appeared on the cover of the October 6 issue of “People” magazine with a bald head (she shaved her head rather than wait for her hair to fall out as a result of the chemo treatments that concluded in September). Lunden not only opened up to “People,”—she was named a “special correspondent” for the Today show for the month of October—doing weekly reports on breast cancer issues. Lunden converted to Judaism shortly before marrying her first (Jewish) husband in 1978, with whom she had three now-adult daughters (one of whom recently made Joan a grandmother). Her first marriage broke-up in 1992, and in 2000, she wed businessman JEFF KONIGSBERG. She has had two sets of twins with Konigsberg.

Abdul has partnered with the Avon Foundation for Women in a new campaign called #CheckYourself. For this campaign, Adbul made a video that includes a song and dance based on the simple steps a person would take to check themselves for breast cancer. The moves include some hand gestures that approximate how to do a self-exam. She says in a news release: "Singing and dancing are my passions. I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to apply these passions to create a new music video in support of the new global #CheckYourself.  This [campaign} is very personal for me. My sister Wendy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000…She inspires me every day. My hope is that this new video will inspire women and men to take charge of their own breast health through screening, detection, and treatment."


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