Jews in the News: Jon Stewart, Daniel Radcliffe and Mila Kunis

At the Movies/Movie News

“Rosewater” is the first film directed and written by JON STEWART, 51.  It is based on a memoir by Iranian-Canadian Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari about his 107-day imprisonment in solitary confinement by the Iranian regime. A few days before Iran’s 2009 presidential election, “Daily Show” correspondent Jason Jones, pretending to be a “spy” (a put-on), interviewed Bahari at a Teheran coffee shop. The regime arrested Bahari four days after the interview aired on “The Daily Show” and charged him with spying! After his release, he and Stewart became friends. Here’s an excerpt from a recent NY Magazine interview with Stewart: (Q) “Speaking of Iran: You learned a great deal about its politics and culture writing and directing Rosewater. Did you make the movie because you felt guilty about contributing to Bahari’s jailing?” Stewart replied: “Listen, Jews do a lot of things out of guilt. Generally it has to do with visiting people, not making movies. If I could draw a linear, rational line to what we had done and the charges against Maziar, I would be really devastated. You couldn’t do something more inane and vapid than Jason Jones in sunglasses and a kaffiyeh in a café going, “I am an American spy!” But you can’t control what idiots will weaponize….”. By the way, Bahari was tortured by his interrogators, one of whom was obsessed with New Jersey, calling it a “den of massage wickedness.” (Opens Friday, Nov. 14)

 Celeb Ailments/Obit Note

DANIEL RADCLIFFE, 25, recently told Conan O’Brien that he ingested half a cup of anti-freeze and was sick for three days. Back story: he was making the film “Horns” in Canada. It was very cold, so the crew put anti-freeze in the trailer water lines overnight. Radcliffe didn’t know that and drank from the trailer’s inside water tap—which had the poisonous stuff inside it. Meanwhile, JERRY SEINFELD, 60, told Brian Williams that he might be on the “autistic spectrum.” He said that he’s “very literal in conversation and basic social engagement is a struggle…but I don’t see it as dysfunctional, I just think of it as an alternate mindset.”

The great bassist Jack Bruce died on Oct. 25, age 71. His maternal (Scottish) grandfather may have been Jewish. Not widely known is that Bruce’s songwriting partner on those Cream 1960s classics (“Sunshine of Your Love”, “White Room”) was PETE BROWN, now 73, an English Jew.

Baby Boom

Ashton Kutcher, in a recent appearance on “The Conan O’Brien Show,” explained how he and his fiancée, MILA KUNIS, 31, came up with their newborn daughter’s name, WYATT ISABELLA. First, Kutcher said he came down with "name Tourette's," and started spitting out every name that came to mind in an effort to find one that Mila would like. Finally, he said “Wyatt” and Kunis said, “That’s It.” Then he added, "We gave her the middle name Isabelle after Mila's grandfather who was Itzhak, and so it has a little heritage." He didn’t explain that it’s a Jewish naming custom to give a newborn a name whose first letter or sound is similar to the name of the honored relative.

Robert Downey, Jr., who wed producer SUSAN LEVIN DOWNEY, 40, in a Jewish ceremony in 2005, welcomed a daughter on Nov. 4. She’s named AVRI ROEL DOWNEY. In 2012, they had a son, whom they named EXTON ELIAS DOWNEY.  (I suspect that Avri, too, is named after a Jewish relative. It is a common Hebrew nickname for Abraham).  Meanwhile, ISLA FISHER, 38, and hubbie SACHA BARON COHEN, 43, are reportedly expecting their third child. The couple has two daughters: OLIVE, 7, and ELULA, 4.

TV Worth Watching

The History Channel of Canada made an original dramatic film in 2012 entitled, “The Real Inglorious Basterds,” that was shown earlier this week on the American Heroes Channel (AHC—formerly the Military Channel). It will be re-run on Nov. 15 (9AM) and on Nov. 17 (7PM and 2AM on the 18th).  It tells the true story of two young American Jewish refugees from Europe who joined a secret branch of the army, parachuted into Austria in the last months of WWII, and met up with a German army deserter. Together, they gathered invaluable intelligence and did sabotage work. Sergeant FRED MAYER, now 92, one of the two Americans, was captured and tortured. But he convinced the Nazi head of that region that he was an army “big wig” and eventually, alone, he accepted the surrender of Innsbruck and turned the city over to advancing American troops!


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