Jews in the News: Judd Apatow, Sacha Baron Cohen, Dustin Hoffman

Mann, who isn’t Jewish, is Apatow’s real-life wife.  Their real-life daughters, MAUDE APATOW, 14, and IRIS APATOW, 9, appeared in “Knocked-Up” as Debbie and Pete’s daughters and they reprise their roles in “40”. Actually, their roles are greatly expanded in the sequel. Maude Apatow, by the way, is something of a celebrity in her own right. As noted in a long profile of her last summer in the NY Times---her witty twitter feed has over 100,000 followers. (My educated guess is that the Apatow siblings are being raised secular).

“40”, like most other Apatow films, is a mixture of pathos and humor (sometimes quite risqué). The pathos mostly concerns the delicate balance between Pete and Debbie as they try to hold their marriage together in the face of the pressures of everyday life, plus some financial problems at Pete’s record company. The supporting cast includes ALBERT BROOKS, 65, as Pete’s father; LENA DUNHAM, 26, (“Girls”) as an employee of Pete’s; and ROBERT SMIGEL, 52, as Barry, Pete’s friend.  JASON SEGEL, 32, who appeared in “Knocked-Up” as a Jewish friend of Rogen who is infatuated with Debbie, re-appears in “40” as Debbie’s personal trainer and he still is “into her.”

Opening on Tuesday, Dec. 25, are “Les Misérables” and “Parental Guidance.” The former is a film adaptation of the enormous musical stage hit based on the famous Victor Hugo novel. The original French musical was written by two French Jews (CLAUDE-MICHEL SCHONBERG, 67, music; and ALAIN BOUBIL, 72; lyrics) and the English lyric is by HERBERT KRETZMER, 87, a South-African born, English Jew.

The film stars Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried and Hugh Jackman. SACHA BARON COHEN, 41, has a supporting role (Monsieur Thénardier, a thief). 

Last September, Hathaway, 30, wed her boyfriend of three years, actor and jewelry designer ADAM SHULMAN, 31.  Initial reports described it as a “Jewish wedding.” A later “People” magazine report said that a priest and a rabbi co-officiated. (If true, it was almost certainly an Episcopal priest. Hathaway, who has a gay brother, called herself a non-denominational Christian a couple of years ago. She briefly attended the Episcopal Church with her family after they left the Catholic Church because of its position on gays). I was a bit surprised about the priest at the wedding because I had a “gut” feeling that Hathaway might “join the tribe.”  Little things lead to this feeling, but I was wrong.

I’m hoping that “Parental Guidance” is above sit-com quality. The “official” plot blurb says: “Grandfather Artie (BILLY CRYSTAL, 64), who is accustomed to calling the shots, meets his match when he and his eager-to-please wife Diane (BETTE MIDLER, 67) agree to baby sit their three grandkids when their type-A parents go to work.  But when 21st century problems collide with Artie and Diane’s old school methods--they learn that bending – and not holding your ground – binds a family together.” Tom Everett Scott and Marisa Tomei play the parents of the grandkids. One of the grandkids (“Turner Simmons”) is played by JOSHUA RUSH, 10, a “wunderkind” child actor who did a TV commercial at ten months and has been working steadily since. A Jewish website recently asked him how he celebrates Hanukkah and he replied: “We light candles every night and eat Dad's delicious home made brisket!”

Kennedy Center Honors for “the Graduate”

The Kennedy Center Honors, for lifetime excellence in the arts, were awarded on Dec. 2. On Wednesday, Dec. 26, at 9PM, CBS will broadcast a film of the awards ceremony. The award winners this year are: the members of the rock group Led Zeppelin; blues guitarist Buddy Guy; comedian David Letterman; ballerina Natalia Makarova; and two-time best actor Oscar winner DUSTIN HOFFMAN, 75.   Asked on the red carpet how he was feeling, Hoffman said: "My wife [attorney LISA GOTTSEGEN HOFFMAN, 58] keeps reminding me that when I say, 'Pretty good -- I am a nominee,' she says 'No, you are an honoree.' So it is spectacular.”


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