Jews in the News: Steven Spielberg, Howie Mandel and Maria Altman

At the Movies

“I’ll See You in My Dreams” is, in the words of  “Variety”, “a sweetly handled romantic dramedy [starring] Blythe Danner [the mother of GWYNETH PALTROW] as, Carol, a Los Angeles widow making room for two new [male] friendships…grounded at every step by Danner’s calmly radiant deeply felt performance…[aided] by a script [that is] a succession of moments to savor, where what matters isn’t the fairly predictable narrative destination so much as the simple pleasure of spending time in these characters’ company.”  The characters “we spend time with” include two suitors, one young (Martin Starr), and one old (Sam Elliott) and three of Carol’s old friends, played by JUNE SQUIBB, 84 (Oscar nominee for “Nebraska”), RHEA PERLMAN, 67 (“Cheers”) and Mary Kay Place. (Opens May 29 in Tampa)

“Tomorrowland” is a sci-fi fantasy starring George Clooney as a former boy genius who bonds with a bright, science-minded teen (Britt Robertson). Together they embark on a dangerous and life altering mission to a mysterious place called “Tomorrowland.”  The screenplay is by DAMON LINDELOF, 42, who also produced. He’s best known as the creator of the TV series’ “Lost” and “The Leftovers.”  (Opens May 22)

Fantasy of a more horrific sort is found in “Poltergist.” Yes, it is a re-make of the classic 1982 film ---about evil spirits invading a suburban home and capturing a young child-- which was written by STEVEN SPIELBERG. The new version has been brought into the present day and co-stars Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt. It was produced by SAM RAIMI, 55, a master of horror, and directed by GIL KENAN, 38. Kenan, who was born in Israel and raised in Los Angeles, has directed two big studio movies: “Monster House” (2006), a charming animated film that was a hit and Oscar-nominee—and “City of Ember” (2008), a fantasy which wasn't a hit.  (Opens May 22)

TV and More

“Red Nose Day” is the title of a special airing live on NBC on Thursday, May 21 at 8PM. Its aim is to raise funds for poor children in the United States and around the world. The “gimmick” is that the celebs wear a red nose like clowns wear and this charming “fashion statement” has already been a huge hit in the U.K., where millions have been raised via celebrity-studded “Red Nose Day” TV specials. Jewish celebs appearing on the NBC special include MATT LAUER, JEFF GOLDBLUM, JACK BLACK, ELIZABETH BANKS, ADAM LEVINE, and GWYNETH PALTROW. (WILLIAM SHATNER and HOWIE MANDEL appear in funny video shorts on the NBC “Red Nose Day” web page).

You’ve probably heard that HARRY SHEARER, 71, has opted to walk away from a multi-million dollar contract renewal with Fox rather than allow them to have veto power over his outside projects (although rumors say they still may make a deal). Shearer is, of course, the voice of many “Simpsons” characters including Mr. Burns, Waylon Smithers, Ned Flanders, Rev. Lovejoy, principal Skinner, Otto Mann, and Kent Brockman. Fellow Jewish cast member JULIE KAVNER, 64, will stay on as the voice of Marge Simpson.

Shearer’s other notable roles include playing a member of the rock group “Spinal Tap,” the hilarious 1984 mockumentary (which Shearer co-wrote). By the way, this is not the first time that Shearer left, in a sense, a lucrative role. He was a child actor with a few minor credits when he appeared in the 1957 pilot for “Leave it to Beaver”. He played Frankie, a not-so-nice boy. (His character probably was a model for Wally’s friend, the creepy Eddie Haskell).

When the series was picked-up and put on the CBS schedule, Shearer’s parents decided to decline an offer to have Shearer (“Frankie”) appear in “Beaver” as a frequently recurring character. They thought that the steady work was too much for a young child. This pilot, called “It’s a Small World”, can be seen on Youtube. (Quality is not that good. You will notice that different actors played Mr. Cleaver and Wally than those who appeared in the series).

Beaver Pilot

Actress Helen Mirren will receive the World Jewish Congress Recognition Award for her role as MARIA ALTMANN in the bio-pic, “The Woman in Gold.” The film chronicles Altmann’s effort to reclaim a famous Gustav Klimt portrait of her aunt from the Austrian government. (A painting that the Nazis stole from her late uncle). Mirren said about the award, "Being a part of this film and preserving Maria Altmann’s legacy has been a truly exceptional experience from the start. I am utterly moved to be receiving an award from the World Jewish Congress, an organization that does such important work all over the globe in advocating for Jewish rights."



Add Comment