Jews in the News: Gal Gadot, Drake and Ben Platt

Wonder Woman, Finally!

Opening June 2 is Wonder Woman.  Basic plot: Chris Pine, whose maternal grandpa was Jewish, plays Steve, a WWI American secret agent pursued by the German army because he knows they plan to use a horribly deadly chemical weapon. He crash lands on an idyllic island where Diana, AKA Wonder Woman, lives. She takes him back to England and she doesn’t reveal her true self for some time. But fate takes her to a no-man’s land on a WWI battlefield, and look out, it’s Wonder Woman in full regalia!

Jews worldwide have been giddy since Israeli actress GAL GADOT, 32, was casted as Wonder Woman. She’s practically a super-hero Jewish role model: a former Miss Israel, top model, Israeli army veteran, motorcycle rider, mother of two with her Israeli husband (a successful hotel developer)—and, of course, hot actress.

Last October, there was a United Nations ceremony in which the Wonder Woman character, as played by Gadot and Lynda Carter on TV, was named an Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women & Girls. Carter and Gadot met, for the first time at the ceremony. (Carter’s husband of 33 years, ROBERT ALTMAN, 69, is Jewish and their children were raised Jewish). However, after objections were raised about using a fictional, scantily clad character as a U.N. Ambassador, the Honorary Ambassadorship was ended after two months.

This unexpected controversy is consistent, somehow, with the long, twisted history of getting Wonder Woman to the big screen. For twenty years, filmmakers have been trying to find the right approach and script that would almost guarantee a hit. Their caution was re-enforced by the box office and critical failure of other films featuring a super hero woman (Halle Berry in Catwoman and Jennifer Garner in Elektra).

The buzz is that Wonder Women scriptwriter ALLAN HEINBERG, 49, has brought together the elements that eluded others. He has a perfect mixture of experience for this movie—he created a hit comic series (Young Avengers) and a new storyline for the Wonder Woman Comics. Plus, he has written for and helped produce many hit TV series, including Sex and the City and Scandal.

It’s clear that Gadot thinks her film has successfully captured the “real” Wonder Woman. She told Entertainment Weekly: “For a long time people didn’t know how to approach the story. Diana [Wonder Woman] is not some idealized robot, a warrior and nothing more. She’s a woman—a woman with very high values—but a woman. She goes through the same challenges we all go thorough. She wants to feels like she belongs…to be appreciated…to help…to be loved.”

More Movie & Musical Notes

Band Aid opens in a few theaters on June 2 and will be available for streaming on IFC on June 9. It co-stars ZOE LISTER JONES, 34, and ADAM PALLY, 35, as a couple whose marital discord, ironically, helps their music career as they form a band that does “fight songs.”  Lister-Jones, who was raised in her mother’s Jewish faith, wrote and directed the film. She co-stars in the Fox series, Life in Pieces. Pally co-stars in the Fox comedy, Making History. The film has got very good advance reviews.

Attention must be paid to DRAKE, 30. At the Billboard Music Awards, held on May 21, he took home 13 trophies, topping Adele, who won 12. He also beat Adele out for the coveted “Top Artist” award. His 13 wins is the highest total won in any single year since the Billboard Awards began in 1990. Unlike other awards, the “BMA” winners are not chosen by voters. Rather, they are statistically determined based on album and digital songs sales, amount of streaming, radio airplay, touring revenue, and social media presence.

BEN PLATT, 23, the Tony-nominated star of the hit Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen,” appeared with Stephen Colbert on May 22. He told a story about how he silenced four front-row “Evan Hansen” attendees who wouldn’t stop talking very loudly as he was performing. Glaring directly at them didn’t work, he said. But finally he had an idea. Platt told Colbert, “I’d call it a come to Jesus moment, but I’m a Jew, so I guess it’s a come to Moses moment.” 

His great idea? He sneezed on the talkers and that worked. Yes, unsanitary. But a lot better idea, I think, than stopping the show to throw these self-entitled idiots out. Doing that would have ruined the magic of the show for the whole audience. (See my Tony’s coverage next week for more about Platt).


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