Jews in the News: Judd Apatow, Michael Bloomberg and Albert Brooks

The March issue includes a profile of MARV ADELSON, 83, who went from being a show-biz frontman for the Mafia; to a top TV producer married to BARBRA WALTERS and worth $300 million; to his present state—divorced, broke, and living alone in a tiny apartment. It also includes an interview with a happy and lively STANLEY DONEN, 88, who directed such classics as “Singin’ in the Rain,” “On the Town,” and “Charade.” Donen has been living with Elaine May for the last 12 years. Donen wants to do “the right thing”: he says he has asked May to marry him “about 172 times.” She gave him a medallion that he wears around his neck. It says: “Stanley Donen. If found, please return to Elaine May.”


Short Term Troika?


On March 5, Los Angeles city councilman ERIC GARCETTI, 42, came in first in the open primary to become the city’s next mayor. His father, Gil Garcetti, 71, the former L.A. District Attorney, was born in Mexico to Italian and Mexican Catholic parents. His mother, SUKEY ROTH, is an American Jew. Eric was raised Jewish and is a synagogue member. 


Garcetti will now face City Controller Wendy Gruel, whose husband is Jewish, in a May run-off. If he wins, he will take office in July. If he wins, until the end of the year, the mayors of America’s three largest cities will be Jewish: there’s RAHM EMANUEL, 52, who took office as Chicago’s first Jewish mayor in May, 2011; and MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, 71, who completes his third term as New York’s mayor at the end of this year and cannot, by law, run again.


If he wins, Garcetti will be Los Angeles’ second Jewish mayor. BERNARD COHN (1835-1889) was acting mayor of Los Angeles for a few weeks at the end of 1878. He was appointed to replace a mayor who died in office.


In 1849, at age 14, Cohn worked as a seaman on a San Francisco bound ship. After a short time in the gold fields, he worked on sheep ranches, and then moved to Los Angeles in 1857. There he prospered as a wool merchant. He was a big benefactor to the Jewish community, but his death exposed his “black sheep” past: his “official wife”, with whom he had children, was Jewish. She died before him. In the 1870s, he had a “marriage-like” arrangement with a Mexican woman while married to his Jewish wife. He gave quite a bit of property to this woman and to the children he had with her. She wanted widow’s rights to his estate, but the courts turned her down.


I’m glad to say that although some contemporary politicians have had Cohn-like scandals—Emanuel, Bloomberg, and Garcetti have never been accused of similar bad behavior.  Equally “clean” is BOB FILNER, 72, who became mayor of San Diego last December.  San Diego is America’s 8th largest city and, currently, three of the ten largest American cities have Jewish mayors.


Sad News


BONNIE FRANKLIN, best known as the star of the hit sit-com, “One Day at a Time,” died on Mar. 1, age 69, of pancreatic cancer.  She met her husband, MARVIN MINKOFF, when he produced an excellent 1980 TV movie about the life of birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger that Franklin starred-in. The couple wed in 1980 and remained married until Minkoff’s death in 2009. She was a loving stepmother to Minkoff’s two children. From 1999-2001, she hosted a cable TV show in which she interviewed other Jewish celebrities.


Valerie Harper, 73, who isn’t Jewish, but played the famous Jewish character “Rhoda Morgenstern” on the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” and on the spin-off, “Rhoda,” has been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. In 2007, she starred as GOLDA MEIR in the film adaptation of the hit Broadway play, “Golda’s Balcony.” DAVID GROH, the Jewish actor who played Joe, Rhoda’s non-Jewish husband, died in 2008, age 68, from cancer. 




**Here's the text of the interview section in which Brooks discusses religion with Judd Apatow, who is doing the interview

Judd Apatow. Are you religious at all?

Albert Brooks. It’s funny, I don’t believe in the images of what God is, a thing or a person. I do wonder often the reason the sea horse is here, or a tree, or why I’m here, and so I don’t know if I’m religious. But it’s interesting when you’re part of a group—the Jews, to be exact—that the world has had such problems with. It has really nothing to do with religion. That’s why, if my kids didn’t want to go to temple, I used to say, “Let me explain something to you: If Hitler came back, he’s not going to ask if you went to temple. You’re already on the train. So you might as well know who you are and why they’re going to take you.”

J.A. What do you get out of temple?

A.B. I went to a memorial service and brought my kids and we thought about my dad and my mom, and the rabbi gave kind of a cool sermon, and you’re sitting in a room with everyone who would have to go on the same train. So there’s a bit of community there.

J.A. That’s dark.

A.B. Well, but it’s true. Here’s what we know. We know meditation is healthy. Everybody says it slows your heart rate and everything, and the basis of religion seems to be that when you pray … I don’t know what people who are religious think when they pray, but it’s very close to what meditation is. It’s sort of ritualistic, it’s habit, it’s like exercising, so you might be able to get something out of that. I’m sure some people enjoy thinking it’s out of their hands. There’s all these people who think it’s “meant to be.” But I don’t buy that.

J.A. I’d love to buy it, though. I wish I could.

A.B. I don’t buy it, but I love it.

J.A. It would make the day so much easier.

A.B. Look, only a few people get to die peacefully in their sleep after a wonderful life. So that’s like not making the football team. There’s lots of things you don’t get to have. That’s probably one of them. Thank God, I consider myself lucky that I live after anesthetic. Can you imagine those days? “Sit down. Tuesday we’re taking off your arm.”





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