Jews in the News: Ben Platt, Margarita Levieva and Sofia Mechetner

At the Movies

 “Ricki and the Flash,” which opens on August 7, stars Meryl Streep as Ricki, a small-time rock singer who chased her dreams and, along the way, abandoned her family. Ricki has a last chance to mend fences when her ex-husband, Pete (Kevin Kline), asks her to visit Chicago and help their estranged and troubled daughter (played by Mamie Gummer, Streep’s real-life daughter). There’s a lot of music in the film and here’s hoping that BEN PLATT, 21, who plays a bartender at the tavern where Ricki often performs, gets to show off the singing chops he showed in the “Pitch Perfect” movies. By the way, “the Flash” is the name of Ricki’s band.

“Fantastic Four” is a re-boot of the “Fantastic” movie franchise, featuring a whole new cast. The film, which also opens on August 7, was directed and co-written by JOSH TRANK, 31. His first feature film, the critically acclaimed sci-fi thriller, “Chronicle” (2012), was made for $12M and grossed over $120M. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Trank’s paternal grandparents were Czech Jews who survived the Holocaust and settled in the States after WWII.

TIM BLAKE NELSON, 51, who plays Harvey Elder, the super villain in “Fantastic,” has a similar background: Nelson’s maternal grandfather, HERMAN KAISER, a judge in pre-Nazi Germany, fled Germany in 1940, and became a very successful oil “wildcatter” in Oklahoma. Herman’s son (and Tim’s uncle), is oil man GEORGE KAISER, 73. George is a pillar of the Oklahoma Jewish religious community, one of the 100 richest men in the world, and usually ranked among the top 50 philanthropists in the world.

Tim Blake Nelson, whom most people recognize from roles in films like “O Brother, Where Art Thou,” was the director and screenwriter of the gripping Holocaust film, “The Grey Zone” (1997).

“Diary of a Teenage Girl” opens in some theaters on the 7tth. There are great advance reviews for this film about the sexual coming-of-age of Minnie, a girl raised in a loose, “hippie-esque” 1970s San Francisco household. MARGARITA LEVIEVA, 35, a talent who needs a star role, has a large supporting role as a wild lesbian friend of Minnie’s. 

Blonde Israeli Bombshells

E! Online, not an unimpeachable source, reports that Israeli supermodel BAR REFAELI, 30, and Israeli businessman ADI EZRA, 40, will be married this coming September, right after the high holidays. Ezra is a member of the family that owns the huge Israeli food importing company Neto ME holdings. Refaeli was married (2003-2005) to Israeli ARIK WEINSTEIN and dated actor DAVID CHARVET, 43, and Leonardo DiCaprio. By the way, virtually every woman that DiCaprio, now 40, has been romantically linked to is a stunning blonde younger than 30.  Since splitting with Refaeli in 2011, he has gone on to date (for about 7 months) the only other Jewish (adult) blonde bombshell model I am aware of: ERIN HEATHERTON, 26 (she was born Erin Heather Bubley). He’s now linked to Kelly Rohrbach, 24, a blonde swimsuit model. As an editorial note, Leonardo is now entering the age where rational people start to think it’s creepy to serially date hot women around age 25.

Creepy is the word that some critics are applying to the first big modeling gig of SOFIA MECHETNER, a 14-year-old Israeli girl who the Christian Dior fashion house recently signed to a $265,000 contract. Her first Paris fashion show featured her walking down the catwalk topless wearing only a see-through gown. While this is pretty outrageous, I can understand why her agent and Sofia dismissed objections---calling high fashion modeling, including quasi-nudity-- “art”. I don’t know if they really believe this—but one thing is clear: Sofia and her family really needed the money.  Her divorced parents are poor immigrants from Russia and she grew-up in a run-down suburb of Tel Aviv. Her mother, who works as a seamstress and masseuse, slept in the living room and Sofia and her two younger siblings slept in the one bedroom—her brother and sister in a bunk bed and she on a mattress on the floor.  Then an Israeli modeling agent discovered Sofia and paid for a trip to France where, as he hoped, a major fashion house signed her.

Sofia, who is tall and blonde and looks like a young Kate Moss, does fit the international modeling standard: it doesn’t seem to matter what country you come from—as long as you are tall and blonde. Sure, every now and again there is an exception. But don’t hold your breath waiting for a stunning “Semitic-looking” beauty to be signed by Dior.


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