Jews in the News: Isla Fisher, Jonah Hill & Bernie Sanders

At the Movies: Dumbo and A Beach Bum

“Dumbo”, directed by Tim Burton, is a live-action version of the classic Disney cartoon about an elephant whose large ears make him, at first, something of a laughingstock. As the film begins, the owner of a struggling circus (Danny Devito) enlists a former star of the circus (Colin Farrell) and his children to care for the big-eared baby elephant. Financially, things take-off for the circus when they discover Dumbo’s ears allow him to fly.  Huge crowds come out to see Dumbo perform with a spectacular and charming aerial artist played by French actress EVA GREEN, 38.  ALAN ARKIN, 84, has a supporting role as Remington, a Wall St. tycoon. (Opens Mar, 29)

Green’s mother is a Sephardic Jew, originally from Algeria. Green is secular, but identifies as Jewish. She’s co-starred in a number of films, including two previous Tim Burton movies. She also was a lead in the Starz series “Penny Dreadful.” I suppose her most seen role was as Vesper Lynd, the main “Bond Girl” in “Casino Royale” (2006), the first Bond pic to star Daniel Craig. Green is the most recent Jewish woman to play a “Bond Girl.”

I am happy to say that the first two Jewish women to play a Bond Girl are still very much with us: Israel actress ALIAZ GUR, now 78, in “To Russia with Love” (1963) and JILL ST. JOHN (born Jill Oppenheim), also now 78, in “Diamonds are Forever” (1971).

“Beach Bum” is a comedy that was written and directed by HARMONY KORINE, 46. Korine has been making well-received, but not much seen indie films since 1995.  He broke into the commercial big-time with the surprise critical and financial success of the low-budget crime thriller “Spring Breakers” (2013).

Matthew McConaughey stars as Moondog, a fun-loving, pot-smoking, beer-drinking writer who lives in Florida. The official synopsis says: “If he can put down the drugs for just one minute, he may be able to put his talent to good use and finish the next great American novel." ISLA FISHER, 43, co-stars as Minnie, Moondog’s wife. Her wealth allows Moondog to just coast throughout most of his adult life. JONAH HILL, 35, has a big supporting role as Lewis, Moondog’s literary agent.  I won’t give it away here—but something happens that forces Moondog to stop partying and to at least try to finish that “great American novel.” (Opens Mar. 29)

Two Sanders Face-Off

My family history expert friend has dug-out something not reported in the Jewish or general media. Beto O’Rourke’s father-in-law, WILLIAM SANDERS, 77, is Jewish. William is a very wealthy (worth $500M) real estate developer who grew-up in El Paso, which is also O’Rourke’s hometown. He has been a big supporter of Beto. My friend has documented that three of William’s grandparents were Jewish by birth. His maternal grandmother was not born Jewish—but we think—based on “clues”—that she may have converted-in. William is 3 months younger than Beto’s rival, Senator BERNIE SANDERS. They aren’t related, but have a lot in common.

William’s wife, Louanne, was raised an Episcopalian. Beto O’Rourke was raised Catholic. I don’t know what faith, if any, Amy Sanders, Beto’s wife, and Louanne’s daughter, was raised in and/or now identifies with.

You Almost Couldn’t Make This Up

CHELLA MAN, 20, has just been cast in a major role in the series “Titans”. It’s a web-only series that is part of the “DC Universe”. His character, Jericho, is an intense and emotionally complex person—sometimes a hero and sometimes a villain. He communicates via sign language.

Sign language is no problem for Man, who is deaf. He also is a member of a lot of other minorities. His father is Chinese and his mother is Jewish. He is also transgender (his gender at birth would commonly be referred to as female). He is also strikingly handsome and his physical beauty led him to be signed, last October, by the big modeling agency IMG.

Man is a proud Jew. In December, 2017, he told photographer/journalist MARISA CHAFETZ: “Growing up, my temple’s rabbi was openly gay. Seeing our temple’s community accept a queer individual as a leader gave me hope at such a young age, although I had not come to terms with my sexuality yet. It made me feel included in a community as well as Jewish culture…My mom [is a Jewish hero]. Her empathy and open mindedness towards my struggles with gender/sexuality have always allowed me to feel safe with her and ‘at home’ in our family.”


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