Jews in the News: Amy Schumer, Bette Midler and Jennifer Connelly

Schumer and Lawrence, Oh My

As I noted in a recent column, AMY SCHUMER, 34, is so hot after the success of her summer movie, “Trainwreck,” that she's a premiere week guest on  the "Late Show with Stephen Colbert" (she’ll be on Friday, Sept. 11). But the big buzz now around her is her new friendship with Jennifer Lawrence, 25 (“Silver Linings Playbook”, “Hunger Games”).  Lawrence told the New York Times that a few months ago she e-mailed Schumer after seeing “Trainwreck” and said, “I don’t know where to get started. I guess I should just say it: I’m in love with you.’”

E-mails and texting led to Lawrence being invited to join Schumer and her high school female buddies on their annual outing (boating off Long Island) and the photos of that event lit up the internet. Then, on August 25, Lawrence casually told reporters that she and Schumer had almost finished a comedy screenplay they had written together. Their screenplay has the two playing sisters. Lawrence says, “Amy and I were creatively made for each other. We have different flavors. It’s been the most fun experience of my life.”

On August 27, the pair looked very happy as they attended a Chicago BILLY JOEL concert and danced barefoot together on top of Joel’s piano. As they danced, Joel sang his famous song “Uptown Girl” (which was prominently used in “Trainwreck”). Another musical star, BETTE MIDLER, 69, “nominated” herself to play their movie mother in a Sept. 1 tweet.

An Upcoming Big Jewish Movie

“American Pastoral,” a 1997 novel by PHILLIP ROTH, now 82, won the Pulitzer Prize and is generally ranked as one of his best novels. It was included in Time magazine’s list of the “100 greatest novels.” The central character, Seymour “Swede” Levov, is like Roth, himself, a Jewish guy who was born in Newark, New Jersey in the late 1920s. The son of a successful manufacturer, Seymour is a superstar high school athlete in several sports and becomes the idol of thousands of young Jews. His fair complexion and “Nordic” good looks earns him the nickname “Swede”.

The “Swede” goes on to marry a former (not Jewish) beauty queen and inherits his father’s business. His seemingly perfect life shatters when his daughter rebels by becoming a revolutionary and committing a deadly act of political terrorism during the Vietnam War. Swede’s life story is told by Nathan Zuckerman, a recurring character in Roth’s fiction and, in many ways, an alter-ego of Roth.

There have been attempts since 2003 to make a film version of “Pastoral”. Now it is finally a “definite go,” with filming set for next summer. Ewan McGregor is directing and starring as “the Swede” (McGregor’s wife is Jewish and his kids are being raised Jewish). JENNIFER CONNELLY, 44, whose mother is Jewish, will, ironically, play the Swede’s wife, with Dakota Fanning playing his daughter. Last week, it was announced that David Stratairn will play Zuckerman. Stratairn is an excellent actor who plays Jews very well even though he isn’t a tribe member.

SNL Addition

“Saturday Night Live” has announced that just one new member, JON RUDNITSKY, will be added to the cast for the 2015-2016 season, which starts Oct. 3. Rudnitsky, 25, is a relatively unknown stand-up comedian and digital (internet) comedic short filmmaker. I can see why “SNL” hired him—he’s fairly good looking in a regular guy kind of way; he has youthful energy and the stand-up routines he chose to post on Youtube featured “millennial” heavy humor (lots of stuff about Facebook, etc); and he turns out parody shorts that are very much in the “Saturday Night” mode.

On the other hand, the stand-up routines he chose to post on Youtube weren’t all that funny. He’s not this generation’s Richard Pryor, Louis C.K., etc. Moreover, while his parodies aren’t bad- they aren’t great either. A case in point is one called “The Jewish Hunger Games: Kvetching Fire.” The look and editing of this Yom-Kippur themed short (styled as a “trailer”) is first class—it really captures the sensibility of the original movie. Some parody jokes score and one or two others seem stupidly offensive. I’ve seen better High Holiday themed comedic shorts.

My sense that he’s not a first rate comedian was confirmed last week when various sources dug out oldish Rudnitsky tweets that were unfunny, nasty remarks about women and gays (even though one was supposed to be a joke). Offensive and funny is one thing—offensive and unfunny is a major comedic sin that Jon should atone for on Yom Kippur.


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