Jews in the News: Paul Rudd, Eleanor Parker and Brian Epstein


The Dec. 6 issue of “USA Weekend” had Rudd on the cover, with a caption that  read: “America’s Most Loveable Leading Man.”   About this film he said, “It’s even more bizarre than the first one, I think.”  He added that trying to cut back on work so he could spend more time with his (Jewish) wife, JULIE, and their 7-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter. By the way, Rudd says his daughter loves his Fantana mustache.


More serious is "American Hustle," directed and co-written by DAVID O. RUSSELL, 55 ("Silver Linings Playbook"). Christian Bale stars as Irving Rosenfeld, a brilliant con-man who is forced by the FBI to ensnare some corrupt New Jersey politicians with Mafia ties. Jennifer Lawrence plays Irving's wife, with Amy Adams as Rosenfeld's con-woman mistress. Rosenfeld, by the way, is wearing a big Star of David in the film's trailer (opens wide on Friday, Dec. 20).


“Hustle,” which has some humor, has already landed on many critics’ top ten lists based on their seeing it in film festivals. It is inspired by the real FBI “Abscam” operation, a ‘70s sting in which a phony Arab sheik offered bribes to members of Congress.  MEL WEINBERG, now 89, was a real Jewish conman who, like the Rosenfeld character, helped the FBI plan the sting---which resulted in five Congressmen and one Senator doing jail time for bribe-taking.


Opening the same day is "Saving Mr. Banks," which purports to tell the true story of how the author of the "Mary Poppins" children's books, Brit P.J.Travers (Emma Thompson), was cajoled into giving Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) the right to make a "Mary Poppins" film.


Disney did this by bringing (1964) Travers to Hollywood where, among others, she met with his crack young songwriting team, RICHARD SHERMAN, now 85, and his brother, ROBERT SHERMAN (1925-2012).


They are played, respectively, by JASON SCHWARTZMAN, 33, and B.J. NOVAK, 34 (“The Office”). These two actors (while in character) sing the Sherman brothers' Oscar-winning (Mary Poppins) song, "Chim Chim Cher-ee".



Yes, the Baroness was Jewish


The obits for ELEANOR PARKER, who died on Dec. 10, age 91, all mentioned her three Oscar nominations in the ‘50s (“Caged,” “Detective Story,” and “Interrupted Melody”), as well as her praised performance as the Baroness in “The Sound of Music” (1965). Most obits included lovely tributes from Julie Andrews, 78, and Christopher Plummer, 83, her “Music” co-stars. (Plummer said, “[She] was and is one of the most beautiful ladies I have ever known. Both as a person and as a beauty. I hardly believe the sad news for I was sure she was enchanted and would live forever.")


No obit I saw mentioned Parker’s conversion to Judaism, which occurred near the time of her 1966 marriage to RAYMOND HIRSCH, a Shubert theater manager who was her husband until his 2001 death. In 1969, she said: "I think we're all Jews at heart. I know I have always felt more Jewish than anything else.  I wanted to convert for a long time."  (Parker’s second husband, the father of three of four of her children, was also Jewish.)


Fifth Beatle News


A year ago, it was announced that Tom Hanks was producing a film on the life of BRIAN EPSTEIN, the Liverpool Jew who managed the Beatles from 1961 until his accidental death, age 32, in 1967. He is universally given great credit for making them superstars (securing a recording contract; packaging them).  The drama in Epstein’s life wasn’t limited to the Beatles—he also managed a lot of other famous British rock acts—and he struggled with being gay when gay relations were illegal in the UK (legalized in ’67).


The Hanks film seems now on the back burner. But Indian-American Broadway producer Vivek J. Tiwary has moved ahead with his Epstein bio-pic, “The Fifth Beatle.” He’s signed a respected director and he has secured the rights to use the Beatles’ recordings.





Add Comment