Jews in the News: James Franco, Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg

Drama and Comedy--Opens Nov. 13

“By the Sea” is a modest budget, very personal film, directed and written Angelina Jolie Pitt. It was somewhat inspired by her own mother’s difficult life and early death. “Sea” follows Roland, an American writer (Brad Pitt), and his wife, Angelina (Jolie-Pitt), as they vacation at a beautiful French seaside resort in the 1970s. They try to come to terms with the crisis in their marriage as they spend time with other travelers, including young newlyweds Francois and Lea (played by MéLANIE LAURENT, 33, a very talented French actress who co-starred in “Inglorious Basterds” and “Beginners”).

Jolie, I will note, spends a lot of time in the South of France, including several months before the cesarean birth of her twins in 2008. She wanted to be near Dr. MICHEL SUSSMAN, now 63, a top Riviera-based OB/GYN who brought her through her difficult pregnancy and delivered the twins. Michel’s son, ARNAUD SUSSMAN, 31, is a New York-based top-flight concert violinist.

What is a Hollywood Christmas movie without a lot of Jewish participation? Almost doesn’t exist. So, even though most of you will wait for the DVD/cable release of this season’s biggest comedic Christmas movie, “Love the Coopers”---here’s the Jewish take on this Christmas package—whose main stars are Olivia Wilde, Diane Keaton, and John Goodman.

The pic is about a holiday reunion of four generations of the Cooper family. JON TENNEY, 53 (whose late mother was Jewish) and TIMOTHEE CHALAMET, 19, play younger Coopers. The oldest generation is represented by JUNE SQUIBB, 85 (Oscar nominee for “Nebraska”) and ALAN ARKIN, 81 (four-time Oscar nominee; won for “Little Miss Sunshine”).

By the way, this isn’t the first time two octogenarian Jewish Oscar nominees appeared together in a film. TONY CURTIS, then 83, co-starred with MARTIN LANDAU, then 80, in “David and Fatima” (2008), a well-meaning, but pretty bad flick about the romance of an Israeli Jew and a Palestinian. Curtis got a best actor nomination for “The Defiant Ones” and Landau won best supporting honors for “Ed Wood.”

TV and Theater

“Breakthrough,” a National Geographic station show, started on Nov. 1, but it’s easy to catch-up via encore showings and on-demand. (New shows in the six-episode series air Sundays at 9 PM.) Ron Howard recruited six Hollywood biggies to direct the stories behind the world’s cutting edge scientific innovations. PETER BERG, 51, directed the premiere episode (“Fighting Pandemics”).  BRETT RATNER, 46, directed “Decoding the Brain,” which first airs on Nov. 15, and AKIVA GOLDSMAN, 53, directed “Energy from the Edge”, which airs Dec. 6.


JAMES FRANCO’s bar mitzvah got mucho publicity, but another “sort-of” bar mitzvah was held on Oct. 19th in New York. Three-time Tony award winning director and playwright JAMES LAPINE, 66, was given the ultra-prestigious “Mr. Abbott” award for his contributions to the theater. The theme of the event was a “Broadway bar-mitzvah” and pics of the ceremony include one of a small Torah-like scroll whose wrapping had Lapine’s name in Hebrew style letters.

Lapine wrote the script for several SONDHEIM classics, including “Into the Woods”. He’s directed a few films and a new film he directed, “Custody,” starring Viola Davis, will open next year.

Briefly Noted

There have been several network news reports about a Vermont-based company that's selling men’s briefs with a silkscreen drawing of BERNIE SANDERS on the front and underneath his pic it says: “Feel the Bern.” The company says it’s a tribute to Sanders and 10% of the revenues will go to a charity that helps veterans.  Of course, the underwear sales are a nod to LARRY DAVID’s hilarious Sanders impression on “SNL” in which he said that he, a regular guy, only has one pair of underwear—but billionaires have three or four.

“Feel the Bern” isn’t unique to this company. The official Sanders site has long sold “Feel the Bern” coffee cups. A web search reveals that many vendors are now hocking “Feel the Bern” clothes, including women’s underwear (which seems awkward to me, a veteran watcher of feminine hygiene product ads).

Still, other Jewish politicians could get on the Sanders underwear marketing train. If California Senator DIANNE FEINSTEIN, 82, runs again, she should look into the catch phrase “Feelin’ Fein” and its lingerie appeal. A more risqué message could be on underwear featuring the faces of New York Senator CHARLES SCHUMER, 64, and former New York City Mayor MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, 73, both very strong gun control advocates. Should they run again--underneath their image on the front of men’s underwear it could say, “The only pistol I need.”


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