Dinos, Fictional and Real, Brooks & Berns, Hebrews on the Prairie
The sixth “Jurassic Park” movie, “Jurassic World Dominion”, opens in theaters on June 10. In this sequel, humans and dinosaurs now live near each other all over the world and the question is: who will emerge as the “apex predator”?
The film was directed by COLIN TREVORROW, 41. He also directed the last two “Jurassic Park” films. Both grossed well over a billion dollars at the box office. Trevorrow’s father isn’t Jewish. His mother is Sephardi Jewish.
JEFF GOLDBLUM, 69, reprises his role as Dr. Ian Malcolm, an expert in chaos theory. Goldblum co-starred as Malcolm in the original “Jurassic Park” film (1993), which was directed by STEVEN SPIELBERG. Goldblum appeared in the first “Jurassic” sequel (1997), and he returned for the fifth film (2018).
Probably not by coincidence, Apple+ is now streaming “Prehistoric Planet” a 5-part documentary about the “last days” of the dinosaurs. The series features the latest CGI and other special effects (some pioneered by the “Jurassic Park” movies) to make the dinos “come alive”. The series incorporates the latest scientific research about dinosaurs.
JON FAVREAU, 55, was the head producer of the series and two-time Oscar-winner HANS ZIMMER, 64, wrote the musical score. Sir David Attenborough, the 95-year-old legendary English biologist, narrates the series.
I always like to “plug” Sir David. His parents took in two German Jewish refugee sisters, IRENE and HELGA BEJACH, aged 13 and 12, respectively, weeks before WWII broke-out. David’s parents formally adopted the sisters after it was confirmed that their father died in Auschwitz (their mother died young of natural causes). David, and his famous actor/director brother, the late Sir Richard Attenborough, often said that that Helga and Irene were always like sisters to them.
The sisters, who were practicing Jews, moved to New York in 1946 and stayed, for a time, with an uncle. Helga and Irene are now deceased, but not forgotten. In 2020, Sir David hosted a reunion for the sisters’ descendants. Helga’s daughter said: “We wouldn’t exist if not for their humanitarian kindness.”
“Variety” recently reported that ROB REINER, 75, is now shooting a documentary about his great friend, ALBERT BROOKS,74. Brooks isn’t quite a household name, but he is something special. Brooks has co-starred in good films made by others and in really good films that he wrote, directed, and starred-in. The former includes “Broadcast News”, which earned Brooks a best supporting actor Oscar nomination, and “Drive”. The latter includes the thinking person’s comedies “Lost in America” and “Modern Romance.”
Reiner has a big-name list of documentary interviewees. The Jewish ones include JONAH HILL, SARAH SILVERMAN, JUDD APATOW, and BEN STILLER.
Variety also reports that Reiner is going full guns again with new projects. This includes producing a dramatic bio-pic about BERT BERNS (1927-69), a now-largely forgotten music producer and songwriter. Berns wrote many rock classics, including, “Twist and Shout,” “Hang on Sloopy”, “Piece of My Heart”, and “Here Comes the Night”. Reiner says, “He only lived to 38 [due to a lifetime heart ailment]…[But] the list of his hits is just insane and he had a really interesting life”.
When actor NEHEMIAH PERSOFF died last April, age 102, I thought of commenting on the breadth of his roles. But other items crowded it out. Then, last week, I came across “The Commacheros”, a pretty good 1961 Western now streaming on Starz and other services. It co-stars Persoff and it’s on my list of the “most Jewish” Westerns ever made.
“Commacheros” was directed by MICHAEL CURTIZ (“Casablanca”). It starred John Wayne as a Texas Ranger. Three Jews have the other co-starring roles. Persoff plays an “interesting” bad guy. INA BALIN (1937-80) plays Persoff’s pretty daughter, and STUART WHITMAN (1928-2020), plays a guy who courts Balin and ends-up helping Wayne.
I was surprised when I learned that Whitman was Jewish. But it helped explain how he got two big Jewish film roles early in his career (as a Jewish gangster, and as BOAZ, RUTH’s future husband in “The Story of Ruth”, a 1960 biblical movie). Whitman was almost an “A” list actor in the ‘60s, but from the ‘70s on, he mostly looked after his investments. He was worth over $60M when he died.
The most Jewish Western is “The Outrage” (1964), a not very good re-make of a Japanese movie. (Watch it only for the cast). It was directed by the usually good MARTIN RITT (“Hud”, “Norma Rae”). Except for one role, the entire main cast is Jewish. Two members are still alive: WILLIAM SHATNER, now 90, and CLAIRE BLOOM, also now 90. Sadly, the rest are gone: PAUL NEWMAN, EDWARD G. ROBINSON, LAURENCE HARVEY, and HOWARD DA SILVA. (Now streaming on Plex, a free-with-ads app.)