Jews in the News: Mel Brooks, Joshua Bell, Scarlett Johannson

Film News and Notes

Last week, I wrote about the many real-life Jewish characters in the new film, “Hitchcock,” and the many Jewish thespians appearing in that film about the making of “Psycho”. I just learned that the film’s director, Brit SACHA GERVASI, 45, is the son of a non-Jewish father and a Canadian Jewish mother. In 2010, he wed theater producer JESSICA de ROTHSCHILD, 38, in a posh London synagogue. The celebs attending included the bride’s father, SIR EVELYN de ROTHSCHILD, 83, a leading member of the famous Rothschild banking clan.

Last September, NICHOLAS JARECKI, 33, made his feature film debut with “Arbitrage,” a suspense thriller. Now his older brother, EUGENE JARECKI, 42, whose prior films include the documentary “Why We Fight” and “Reagan,” an acclaimed 2011 HBO bio-pic, is back in theaters with a new documentary, “The House I Live In.” “House” endeavors to show that the 40-year war on drugs has been a failure and it details the cost of that war through first person interviews. It also explores the political and economic corruption that has accompanied that “war.” (Opens in most cities on Friday, Dec. 7)

"Chasing Ice” is a documentary that shows how James Balog, a National Geographic photographer, changed from a climate change skeptic to a believer. He deployed revolutionary new time-lapse cameras that captured the rapid melting of global glaciers over a several year period. This well-produced documentary even has an original theme song, "Before My Time.” It’s sung by actress SCARLETT JOHANSSON, 28. She’s accompanied by famous violinist JOSHUA BELL, 44. (Opens in many cities on Dec. 7)

Also opening “wide” on the 7th is “Playing for Keeps.” It’s a romantic comedy about a charming, down-on-his luck former soccer star (Gerard Butler) who returns home to put his life back together. Looking for a way to rebuild his relationship with his son, he gets roped into coaching the boys’ soccer team. But his attempts to finally become an “adult” are met with hilarious challenges from the attractive “soccer moms” (Uma Thurman, Jessica Biel) who pursue him at every turn.

The screenplay is by ROBBIE FOX, 40, a veteran TV/film writer (“So I Married an Axe Murderer”). His father, CHARLES FOX, 72, is a famous composer of popular and classical music. His work includes many film scores, many TV theme songs, and music for two new ballets. Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, he teamed with lyricist NORMAN GIMBEL, now 85, and together they wrote the pop hits, “Killing me Softly with his Song” and “I Got a Name.” The latter tune was written for a TV series and was turned into a huge hit by the late JIM CROCE (who was a convert to Judaism).

Fox’s parents were Polish Jewish immigrants. In 2009, along with his wife, JOAN (Robbie’s mother), he went to Poland with 72 cantors and the group performed Jewish music in several Polish cities. They were often joined by local Polish Jewish and Polish non-Jewish singers and musicians. Fox composed a new liturgical oratorio for performance during the tour. The tour was the subject of the 2010 documentary “100 Voices: A Journey Home.” (Its available on Netflix and trailers are on Youtube). This year, the Polish government gave Fox its highest cultural award for his work in fostering Jewish/Polish cultural ties.

Nobel Prize Update

On Nov. 29, President Obama met with 2012 American Nobel Prize winners at the White House. The 2012 winners will receive their prizes in Stockholm on Dec. 10. The Jewish winners this year are: American ROBERT LEFKOWITZ, 69, chemistry; American ALVIN ROTH, 60, economics; and Frenchman SERGE HAROCHE, 68, physics (Haroche was born in Morocco, the son of a Sephardi father/Ashkenazi mother).

On Nov. 24, the light-hearted NPR current events radio program, “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” ran a re-play of an interview they did a year ago with ADAM RIESS, 42, an astrophysicist who won the 2011 physics Nobel (you can listen to it on-line). He was very amusing in his give-and-take with the show’s panel. For example, when asked how he found out about his award, Reiss replied: “Well, around 5:30 AM you get a call from Swedish-sounding people and unless you ordered some Ikea furniture lately, it’s probably the Nobel Prize.”

Nate Bloom writes a weekly column on Jewish celebrities, broadly defined, that appears in Cleveland Jewish News, the American Israelite of Cincinnati, the Detroit Jewish News, and the New Jersey Jewish Standard. It also appears bi-weekly in j., the Jewish news weekly of northern California. He also writes a similar bi-weekly column for the website   Starting April, 2012, a monthly version of his column (featuring relevant “oldies but goodies”) will appear in the following Florida newspapers: The Jewish News (Sarasota and Manatee County); The Federation Star (Collier County); and L’Chayim (Lee and Charlotte counties).  The author welcomes questions and celebrity “tips,” especially about people you personally know. Write him at  



Add Comment