Jews in the News: Josh Gad, Steven Spielberg and Dustin Hoffman

Nobel Tribe Members

MICHAEL ROSBASH, 73, a professor at Brandeis Univ., was one of three co-winners of the Nobel for medicine/physiology. The trio’s award is for discoveries that explain how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with the Earth’s revolutions. Rosbash was born in America, the son of German Jewish refugees. His father was a cantor.

RAINER WEISS, 85, BARRY BARISH, 81, and Kip Thorne were awarded the physics prize for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves. Weiss was born in Germany, the son of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother. The family was living in Czechoslovakia in 1938 when the Munich agreement gave the country to the Nazis. They were allowed to come to the States in 1939 because the prominent (Jewish) Stix family of St. Louis sponsored them (as they did many others). In an interview, Weiss recounted how many years later he personally thanked ERMA STIX, the elderly widow of ERNEST STIX, Sr.  Barish’s paternal grandparents came from Poland and eventually settled in Sioux City, Iowa, where Barry's grandfather, HYMAN, and his two brothers founded a Ford dealership. His maternal grandparents also were from Poland. In 1921, the Barish brothers refused to distribute, as ordered, an anti-Semitic paper that Henry Ford sponsored. They forced the Ford company to buy them out. The brothers moved to Omaha, where they opened a Dodge dealership.. Barry was born in Omaha, but mostly grew up in Los Angeles. The extended Barish “car-selling” clan, including Barry’s father, decided California was a better place to sell cars after WWII.
At the Movies

“Marshall” is based on a true story. In 1941, future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (Denzel Washington) agreed to defend a black chauffeur who was charged with raping his employer, a rich Connecticut white woman (KATE HUDSON, 38). Court rules required that he work with a local lawyer and Jewish attorney SAMUEL FRIEDMAN (JOSH GAD, 36), who had no criminal law experience, agreed to be his associate. They had the Herculean task of convincing the jury that the sex was consensual. The screenplay is by MICHAEL KOSKOFF, a Connecticut lawyer, and his son, JACOB, an experienced screenwriter. (Opens Oct. 13)


TV Notes: Catch-Up and Look Ahead

HBO premiered the original documentary “Spielberg” on October 7. Of course, it is about the life and films of STEVEN SPIELBERG, 70. Reviews were good, if not absolutely glowing. It's certainly comprehensive, covering his life (and many Jewish connections) from childhood to the present. Spielberg is extensively interviewed, as are his contemporaries Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, and Brian DePalma.

“The Meyerowitz Tales”, a comedy/drama, didn’t begin as an original Netflix film, but Netflix was smart enough to pick-up as a Netflix original following its premiere at the recent Cannes Film Festival. The Cannes premiere crowd gave it a four minute standing ovation after the film concluded. It’s directed and written by NOAH BAUMBACH, 48. (Begins streaming Oct. 13)

DUSTIN HOFFMAN, 80, stars as Harold Meyerowitz, a self-absorbed sculptor with a minor reputation who has been married four times. ADAM SANDLER and BEN STILLER, both 51, co-star as Harold’s very different sons (they are half-brothers). “Variety” praised Sandler’s performance and even noted that it’s ironic that his first Oscar nomination may come via a Netflix film. Sandler plays the sort of nebbish he usually plays in his other films, but without, Variety says, the cloying shtick.

Sandler and Hoffman have been friends for about 17 years. In a recent “Tonight Show” appearance, Hoffman explained that his children were still young when the hit Sandler comedy “Billy Madison” came out in 1995. They asked their father to invite Sandler to dinner so they could meet him. Adam was invited and the two hit it off.

On Oct. 13, Netflix will release “The Babysitter,” an original horror-comedy film. Basic plot: teenager Cole (JUDAH LEWIS, 16) spies on his hot babysitter Bee (Samara Weaving), only to learn that she is part of a cult that plans to kill him. Lewis previously had a big role in the 2015 film “Demolition.” His parents, HARA and MARK LEWIS are acting teachers in Los Angeles.

The original Showtime series, “White Famous,” premieres on Sunday, Oct. 15. Jay Pharoah plays a talented young African-American comedian whose star is rising. He has to figure out how to maintain his credibility with black people as he crosses-over into wider fame—referred to by black entertainers as “white famous.” MICHAEL RAPAPORT, 47, and STEPHEN TOBOLOWSKY, 66, have large supporting roles.



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