At the Movies
MICHAEL MANN, 71, directs and writes taut and visually exciting thrillers (“Miami Vice,” “Heat”)—so his latest film, “Blackhat,” will likely be much better than most international crime movies. It follows a furloughed convict (Chris Hemsworth) as he and his Chinese partners hunt a high-level cybercrime network across America and into China and Indonesia. Much lighter is “The Wedding Ringer,” a romantic comedy starring JOSH GADD, 33, as Doug, a loveable but socially award guy. As the film opens, Doug is two weeks away from marrying his “dream girl” (Katey Cuoco-Sweeting of “Big Bang Theory” fame) and he has no best man. He is referred to Jimmy (Kevin Hart) who runs a service that provides flattering best men. Jimmy takes on the job, himself, and the two guys really bond. (Both films open Friday, Jan. 16)
While the “Ringer” plot sounds like a lot of recent romantic comedies, it was actually co-written 13 years ago by the film’s director, JEREMY GARELICK, now 39. In 2006, he and his writing partner, Jay Lavender, had a hit with the unusually realistic comedy/drama, “The Break-Up”, starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn. Back in 2006, Garelick was profiled by a Jewish website. He revealed that he had recently become a very observant Jew and that he was about to marry a “nice Jewish girl” (I checked, he is still married to her). Most amusing were his recollections of being the only Jewish player on his New York-area high school football team. He mother, he added, appeared at all his games with a sign that read: "Be careful, tatele."
However, since 2006, Garelick has been listed as the director or writer of a number of films that, in the way of Hollywood, never got made. He just told “Variety” (which named him a “director to watch in 2015”) that Screen Gems asked him to direct “Ringer” just after another film of his got cancelled. “I was so happy,” he said, when “Ringer” actually started filming.
What Was It?: The Diaz/Madden Wedding
Cameron Diaz and musician Benji Madden do NOT have any Jewish ancestry. So, what are we to make of a Jan. 6 US Weekly article, without an author name, that says that all sort of Jewish wedding customs (like stepping on the glass) were incorporated into their Jan. 5 wedding ceremony? In time, we will learn if US Weekly’s article, which relied on an unnamed source, was true at all. Meanwhile, be very skeptical of this story. If it is a harbinger, as some say, of a wave of “kosher style” weddings for non-Jews—I don’t know whether to be offended or rejoice for the gelt to be made by klezmer bands, chuppah makers, and even those guys who turn chopped chicken liver into table sculptures.
By the way, the irreverent Jewish website, “Heeb,” claimed all the rest of the Jewish media got it wrong when those outlets commented, sometimes in a harsh tone, about this wedding. Heeb claimed it had a source that said that Madden’s maternal grandmother was a Jew who converted out—but he’s still a “halachic Jew”-- and that Diaz may have some Sephardi (Cuban) ancestry on her father’s side. My family history expert found out that “grandma” was the daughter of a Protestant minister and his non-Jewish wife! As for being Sephardi, well, Diaz has no known Jewish ancestors in the last few centuries.
New on the Tube
The new HBO series, “Togetherness,” started last Sunday, January 11. A Sunday night premiere is a sign that HBO is confident the series will be a hit. It stars Mark Duplass and Melanie Lynskey as a couple married for ten years who try and take the strain off their marriage by welcoming into their home her flaky single sister (AMANDA PEET, 42) and his out-of-work actor best friend (Steve Zissis). The two guests live in the living room. JOSHUA LEONARD, 39, who has been a guest or recurring star on a number of shows, appears in this show as “Director,” a recurring character. He’s the secular son of a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father.
Peet is a very good and vivacious actress who has had some good roles (“The Whole Nine Yards”, among others) but never became a star. If “Togetherness” becomes a hit, she and her husband, DAVID BENIOFF, 44, the co-creator of “Games of Thrones,” will probably be the first couple to have two hit HBO series airing simultaneously. The couple had their third child, their first boy, in December.