Jews in the News: Paul Reiser, Seth Rogen and Lisa Kudrow

At the Movies/Movie News

“Whiplash,” which opens in several Tampa theaters on Friday Nov. 14, has already earned rave reviews from tough critics like A. O. SCOTT of the NY Times. Miles Teller (who has one Jewish grandparent), stars as Andrew Neiman, a 19-year-old (Jewish) jazz drummer who attends a top conservatory. There he becomes the protégé of Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), a very tough conductor. He uses any psychological trick to turn Neiman into a “perfect” drummer (including, once, referring to Neiman as a “Hymie”). Neiman’s proficiency soars, but the rest of his life, including his love life, suffers. His personality changes so much that it provokes a rebuke from his very mild-mannered father, a failed writer (PAUL REISER, 57). The film was written and directed by Damien Chazelle, 30. Expect to hear a lot more from him in the future. His father, Bernard, is a Princeton University computer scientist (I don’t think he is Jewish; but I am still checking sources).

“Laggies” was released a couple of weeks ago to mostly good reviews. More likely than not, you will find it hard to find in a theater near you. Look for on-demand/DVD releases. It stars Keira Knightley as Megan, a 28-year-old without a career or a direction. When her high school boyfriend proposes, she panics and hides out at the home of Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz), a teenage friend, and Annika's world-weary single dad (Sam Rockwell). JEFF GARLIN, 52, has a supporting role. A close friend sent me this “Jewish geography” e-mail about novelist ANDREA SEIGEL, 36, who wrote the book that “Laggies” is based upon—as well as the “Laggies” screenplay: “She grew up in Irvine [CA], had her bat mitzvah at Temple Bat Yahm, and graduated from Brown.”

Variety reports that SETH ROGEN, 32, has been picked to play Apple co-founder Steven Wozniak in a bio-pic based on the 2011 WALTER ISAACSON biography, entitled “Steve Jobs”—which, of course, was about Apple’s other founder. Wozniak, by the way, is not Jewish. His paternal grandfather, whose last name he bears, was Polish Catholic. The rest of his varied European ancestry isn’t Jewish either. A friend pointed-out a funny thing: there have been three major film depictions of Wozniak (including the upcoming film). Wozniak has been played in each by a Jewish actor—we couldn’t think of a similar casting trifecta involving a real person. The first was the original 1999 TNT movie, “Pirates of Silicon Valley,” and he was played by JOEY SLOTNICK, now 46.  Last year, there was the movie, “Jobs,” in which Ashton Kutcher played Steve Jobs and JOSH GAD, 33, played “Woz”.

Kudrow Returns

The HBO series, “Comeback”, which ran for one 13-episode season in 2005, makes an eight (new) episode return to HBO on Sunday evening, Nov. 9. LISA KUDROW, 51, returns as sit-com actress Valerie Cherish. In the original show, Cherish was a former sit-com star who was trying to make a comeback on a new sit-com, but was relegated to secondary role. Meanwhile, her “comeback” was being documented by a reality show. The new series begins with Cherish trying to peddle a new reality show to “Bravo". Shortly thereafter, the action turns to the “evil” ‘producer of Cherish’s 2005 comeback sitcom. He’s trying to sell HBO a “barely fictional” series about a neurotic “has been” actress, like Cherish, and her relations with a sit-com producer.  “The Comeback” was co-created by, and is co-written by Kudrow.

Bell on Being Jewish

JOSHUA BELL, 46, is often called the world’s greatest violinist. He recently spoke to the Sun-Sentinel newspaper in connection with a Broward concert. About doing a free workshop for school kids before the concert, Bell said:  "You have to credit my Jewish upbringing about the importance of doing mitzvot, that reflects how grateful I am to be a musician. My piano teacher (Russian Jewish violinist JOSEPH GINGOLD) gave me advice and taught me the beauty of music as I became idolized by the great violinists such as MISCHA ElLMAN [also Jewish], who was a contemporary of Gingold.”  Bell has played with the Israeli Philharmonic. About Israel and his violin, he said: "I am forever recognized by Israel as the violinist who plays with BRONISLAW HUBERMAN’s 1713 Stradivarius [Huberman was the founder of the Israel Philharmonic]. I am deeply respectful of the beauty and the rich history of my violin."  About the tune, “Baal Shem: Simchat Torah,” which appeared on a 2013 holiday songs CD he made, Bell said: “Simchat Torah is a time of rejoicing and I wanted to share the happy emotions that are celebrated on the Jewish holiday.”


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