Mad Mel Comeback?
“Hacksaw Ridge” is really a two-layered movie event. First, it’s a bio-pic about Desmond Doss, a real Army medic and Seventh Day Adventist whose religious beliefs prohibited taking human life. His heroism during the WWII battle of Okinawa (evacuating the wounded under fire, etc.) won him the Medal of Honor. His life story is perfect for an action film that also explores deep questions about the morality of war and courage. (Opens Friday, Nov. 4)
The other “layer” is whether “Ridge” will be a big comeback vehicle for director Mel Gibson. His films have flopped since the infamous 2006 anti-Semitic incident and later reports of spousal abuse. Gibson is already doing a lot of “Ridge” promotion in interviews in which he says he “repents” his past sins.
It’s possible that Gibson cast ANDREW GARFIELD, 33, as Doss, because Garfield is Jewish. The media-wise Gibson was probably thinking ahead to film promotion interviews and Garfield being asked about Gibson’s past. I think Gibson was correct if he was thinking that Garfield will say something like, “I’m Jewish and Mel treated me with respect.” Many will take that to mean Gibson has “repented.” However, Gibson reportedly always had amicable personal relations with Jewish actors, directors, etc. on set. It was his off-set words and actions that were appalling.
By the way, while many sources refer to Garfield as Jewish, and he has at least once called himself Jewish—there’s an asterisk. A friend who’s a family history maven discovered that Garfield’s American mother is not Jewish. His late British father was Jewish—and my sense is that the actor is secular. His complete background isn’t something Gibson would have known during casting.
Catching Up with New Show Hebrews
“Man with a Plan” is a CBS comedy series that started on Oct. 24 and new episodes air Mondays at 8:30 PM. Matt LeBlanc stars as a stay-at-home dad whose wife has returned to work. JESSICA CHAFFIN, 34, has a regular supporting role as Marie, a neighbor LeBlanc consults about parenting. Chaffin and her comedy partner, JAMIE DENBO, 43, have long had a comedic bi-weekly podcast (“Ronna and Beverly”) on the Earwolf Network. They play two 50-something Jewish women who dispense advice and interview real celeb guests.
The CBS series, “The Great Indoors,” premiered on Oct. 27, and new episodes air Thursdays at 8:30PM. Joel McHale stars as a reporter who traveled the globe for an outdoors magazine. Then the magazine’s owner (STEPHEN FRY, 59), decides to turn it into a web-only magazine and McHale finds himself office-bound and supervising a staff of “raw” millennials. Also co-starring is CHRISTOPHER MINTZ-PLASSE, 27, as a tech nerd who knows everything about surviving on Mars, but never has been out of the city.
Both actors are the sons of Jewish mothers and non-Jewish fathers. Fans of Brit TV will know Fry, a UK native, from the “Blackadder” shows in the ‘80s. His film roles include the Master of Lake-town in two “Lord of the Rings” movies. Mintz-Plasse is most associated with his debut film role in “Super Bad” (2007) as a teen with a phony I.D. that hilariously says that his name is “McLovin”.
I’m pretty sure that the Jewish musicians listed below will be very happy to be inducted either into the Songwriters or Rock Hall of Fame. They won’t remain silent like BOB DYLAN has been about his Nobel Prize. I’ll have more to say in a future column about Dylan and an interesting connection to another legend, LEONARD COHEN, 82, who has just released a new album.
The Songwriters Hall of Fame is a big deal even if it’s not as famous as the Rock Hall. Nominated for 2017 induction are Jewish songwriters STEVE BARRI, 74; the late P.F. SLOAN; and KENNY NOLAN, 65ish. Barri (born Steve Lipkin) and Sloan (born Philip Schlein) co-wrote many ‘60s hits, including “Eve of Destruction,” “Secret Agent Man,” and “You Baby (Nobody But You)”. Nolan co-wrote many ‘70s hits, including “I Like Dreamin’”, “My Eyes Adored You”, and “Lady Marmalade”.
Rock Hall--- Jewish members of the nominated band are listed---“The Cars” (ELLIOT EASTON, 62, lead guitar); “J. Geils Band” (“Magic Dick” SALWITZ, 71, harmonica; PETER WOLF, 70, lead singer; SETH JUSTMAN, 65, keyboards; and DANNY KLEIN, 70, bassist. Everyone in the band except guitarist J. Geils is Jewish); “Jane’s Addiction” (lead singer PERRY FARRELL, 57, born Peretz Bernstein. Last I heard, he’s a practicing Jew; and STEPHEN PERKINS, 49, drummer. He had his bar mitzvah in Tel Aviv in 1980.)