Jews In The News: Michelle Chamuel, Scarlett Johansson and Oscar Hamerstein

Tony Time


The Tonys, for excellence in the Broadway theatre, air on CBS on Sunday, June 9 at 8PM. Once again, Neil Patrick Harris hosts. Presenters will include JESSE EISENBERG, 29, and SCARLETT JOHANSSON, 28.  LARRY KRAMER, 77, the famous playwright and AIDS activist (“The Normal Heart”) will receive the Isabelle Stevenson humanitarian award for his for his work as the co-founder of Gay Men's Health Crisis.


Here are the Jewish nominees in all but the technical categories. In the categories of best play/musical (new or revival), I’ve just listed the work’s author or composer/lyricist. Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play: JUDITH LIGHT, 64, “Assembled Parties,” a play about the members of a secular Jewish family. Light, who won an actor Tony last year, is best known as the co-star of TV’s “Who’s the Boss?”; Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play: DANNY BURSTEIN, 48, “Golden Boy,” AND Trenton native RICHARD KIND, 56, “The Big Knife”. 


Best Book of a Musical: HARVEY FIERSTEIN, 60, “Kinky Boots”; Best Original Score: “A Christmas Story: The Musical”: music and lyrics by BENJ PASEK, 26, and Justin Paul. (These two guys began collaborating in college. Pasek comes from a religious family and Paul’s father is a Protestant minister) AND “Hands on a Hardbody”: Trey Anastasio of “Phish” fame (music) and AMANDA GREEN, 48 (music and lyrics). Green is the daughter of the late, great Broadway lyricist/book writer ADOLPH GREEN and Tony-winning musical actress PHYLLIS NEWMAN, 80. Newman, who grew up in Jersey City, was the first winner (2009) of the Stevenson award for her work for women’s health services.


Best (new) Play: “Assembled Parties,” by RICHARD GREENBERG, 55, AND “Lucky Guy,” the last work by the late NORA EPHRON; Best (new) Musical: “A Christmas Story,” Pasek and Paul; AND “Bring it On”: TOM KITT, 39, (music) and Amanda Green (lyrics); Best Revival (play): “Golden Boy”: by the late CLIFFORD ODETS; AND “Orphans” by LYLE KESSLER, 69.


Best Musical (revival): “Annie”: CHARLES STROUSE, 84 (music) and MARTIN CHARNIN (lyrics), 78; AND “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”: RUPERT HOLMES, 66 (music/lyrics); AND “Pippin”: STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, 65 (music/lyrics); AND “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella”: the late RICHARD RODGERS (music) and OSCAR HAMERSTEIN, II (lyrics).


Nice to note:  Journalist JACOB BERNSTEIN, 35, one of two sons that Ephron had with her ex-husband, journalist CARL BERNSTEIN, now 69, is now making an HBO documentary about his mother entitled “Everything Is Copy.”  “Lucky Guy” is about newspaperman Mike McAlary, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1997 for his stories about police brutality in NYC.  A year later, he died of cancer, age 41. Last April, Jacob re-counted, for the NY Times magazine, how his mother managed to write a great play about McAlary’s courage as she battled cancer, too, with great courage and unflagging wit.



At the Movies


Opening on Friday, June 7, is the “Purge,” a sci-fi thriller about a future America in which crime is legalized for a 12 hour period each year (so everybody can vent their frustrations). Ethan Hawke plays a nice guy who must decide whether to let a stranger into his bunker-like home, which also harbors his wife and two kids.  MAX BURKHOLDER, 15 (“Max Braverman” on TV’s “Parenthood”) plays one of Hawke’s children.


Sarah Polley, 34, who has been acting in TV and films since she was a child, emerged as an important filmmaker with “Away from Her” (2006), which earned her an Oscar nomination for her screenplay. Her 2011 film, “Take this Waltz,” co-starring SETH ROGEN, was also well-received.


SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read beyond this paragraph if you don’t want to know a key, Jewish-related secret revealed in “Stories We Tell,” a new autobiographical documentary written and directed by Polley. It opens at the Tampa Theatre on Friday, June 14 and you can read a general description of the film here:


A chance meeting led Polley to discover that her biological father was not her late mother’s husband, actor Michael Polley, but HARRY GULKIN, a Quebec based, Jewish filmmaker whom her mother had an affair with.  


Polley recently told the Wall Street Journal about Michael Polley’s reaction to the news: “What I remembered was his first response being really excited for me that I was half Jewish, without him realizing that it would have an impact on him too. I think he forgot in that moment, that it meant that he wasn’t my biological father. He was more like, ‘You’re half Jewish! That’s so cool!’ And then he was like, ‘Oh.’ He said, ‘There’s no way I had that response, that’s crazy.’  And it was… also my shrink’s response to this entire story that is so emotional and impactful. I would say 90 percent of my friends and my shrink were like, ‘Oh my god, you’re Jewish!’ I was like, ‘Yeah, and I also found out that I have a different biological father, which is also a pretty big deal by the way.”


Add Comment