Jews in the News: Amy Schumer, Lizzie Caplan & Liev Schreiber

Many Good Movies: Opening Nov. 20

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 2”, is the finale of the four-part blockbuster movie series. Series star Jennifer Lawrence seems a little tired of being an action hero and she was far more animated when “Part 2” interviewers went off-topic and asked her about the comedy screenplay she’s written with AMY SCHUMER, 34, her “BFF” since last summer. Both actresses previously disclosed that their screenplay has the two playing sisters. In the last two weeks, Lawrence released more details. She said that Schumer will play a “together” flight attendant, while the sister Lawrence plays is, in her words, “a mess.”  Sharper media critics have noted that Lawrence’s personal life and professional persona seems to be much more sober and laidback than Schumer’s-- and the pair are going to have fun playing against type.

“The Night Before” is a very "tribe-heavy" Christmas movie. JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT, 34, co-stars as Ethan, whose parents died on Christmas Eve some fourteen years ago. Every year since, his two best friends, Isaac (SETH ROGEN, 33), and Chris (Anthony Mackie), have distracted him from his grief by partying hard that day with Ethan. However, because Isaac is going to be a father and Chris has become famous, all three decide to have one just one more Eve blow-out.  The film was directed by JONATHAN LEVINE, 39, who also directed Rogen and Gordon-Levitt in “50/50”, a critically acclaimed drama about a young man battling cancer. (“Masters of Sex” co-star LIZZIE CAPLAN, 33, has a big supporting role as Ethan’s love interest.)

BILLY RAY, 40, who got an Oscar nomination for writing “Captain Phillips,” is the director and writer of “Secret in their Eyes.” Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts co-star as a pair of FBI investigators who obsessively search for 13 years for an elusive killer.  Ray describes himself as “a Jewish guy with a Country music name.” More disturbing than “Secret,” because it is based on real events, is “Spotlight.” Hailed as the best journalism movie since “All the President’s Men,” “Spotlight” shows how the Boston Globe uncovered/discovered that scores (perhaps as many as 200) Boston-area Catholic priests had molested children and that the Church hierarchy had covered up this scandal for decades.

LIEV SCHREIBER, 48, stars as MARTY BARON, now 60, who joined the Globe as chief editor in 2001. Born and raised in Tampa, he brought an outsider perspective to a newspaper whose staff was mostly Boston-raised and Catholic.  He tasked them with finding rock solid evidence that the Church was (or was not) covering up for pedophiles and whether there were just a few rogue priests or many. Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams co-star as Catholic Globe reporters who help find this evidence.  The Church pushed back hard against the Globe’s investigation and there was more than a hint of anti-Semitism in their criticism of the Globe, including the implication that Baron, a Jew, had some anti-church agenda.

JOSH SINGER, 43, a practicing Jew who is the movie’s co-screenwriter, says the film does not attack Catholicism as a religion. Rather, the focus is on the Church’s man-made institutional problems. Marty Baron, who has recently revived the Washington Post as its chief editor, has also talked about “Spotlight.” As depicted in the film, he is a quiet, soft-spoken man who leads by intellect and example—not by screaming. When told he comes off just a bit super-heroish in the film, he laughed and said: “A Jewish superhero! First one ever!”

You can read the entire "Variety" article about "Spotlight" on the following link, it includes a brief interview with Baron (including quote above) and comments about him by others. Baron, as many of you might know, was a Miami Herald editor just before joining the Globe:

Variety and Spotlight

Finally, there’s “Trumbo,” the story of the blacklisting of acclaimed screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) during the McCarthy era because of his former Communist ties. After being blacklisted in 1947, Trumbo continued to write movies under false names (but for much less money). The blacklist was broken in 1960 when KIRK DOUGLAS, now 98, and director OTTO PREMINGER hired Trumbo to write, respectively, “Spartacus” and “Exodus”. Both gave him screen credit under his real name and the two Jewish screen legends are big characters in the film—as is the vicious gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (played by the ever-wonderful Helen Mirren).

New Girl: New Tribe Member?

“US Weekly” isn’t exactly the Boston Globe, so I am skeptical of its report that “New Girl” star Zooey Deschanel converted to Judaism shortly before marrying producer JACOB PECHENIK last summer. I would say it’s just a bit more likely than not that this report, citing an unnamed “insider”, is accurate. But the story’s got enough publicity that Deschanel will probably be asked about in the near future.


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