Jews in the News: Randy Newman, Mel Brooks and Harvey Keitel

At the Movies: Here, Coming, and Brooks’ Funnies

The animated film “Toy Story 4” opens in theaters last week and will be playing for many weeks to come. Tom Hanks again voices Woody, the cowboy toy who is the star and hero of the whole series. Woody has many new adventures. They include going with the whole toy gang on a long family road trip. There’s also a sweet side-story about Woody meeting up with his long-lost friend Bo Peep (a porcelain figurine). RASHIDA JONES, 43, is billed above all but one of the movie’s eight credited writers. That indicates she had a big hand in writing this film. RANDY NEWMAN, 75, wrote the musical score and songs. He has written the music for all four “Toy Story” movies and he won an Oscar in 2011 for a “Toy Story 3” song.

The large voice cast includes these Jewish thespians: WALLACE SHAWN, 75, as the voice of Rex, a dinosaur. Shawn now has a regular role on “Young Sheldon” as Dr. Sturgis; ESTELLE HARRIS, 91, as Mrs. Potato Head’s voice. She’s best known as Mrs. Costanza in “Seinfeld”; the late DON RICKLES voices Mr. Potato Head. In his memoir, Rickles said that his young grandchildren, ETHAN and HARRISON MANN, were more impressed by his role as Mr. Potato Head than by anything else he ever did. The screen credits of “Toy Story 4” dedicate the film to Rickles; MEL BROOKS, 92, as the voice of Melephant Brooks; CARL REINER, 97, as the voice of Carl Reineroceros; and JEFF GARLIN, 57, as the voice of Buttercup, a unicorn. I can’t think of another film, animated or not, in which three Jewish actors over 90 appear.


He may be over 90, but Mel Brooks still can make anyone laugh. Brooks was in New York recently for a two-night performance of his show “Mel Brooks on Broadway.” The New York Post reports that a Discovery channel executive asked him the “key to longevity.” He replied: “Keep on living.” In an audience question-and-answer segment after the show, Brooks was asked: “Do you wear boxers or briefs?” He replied, “Depends.” Mel also told the audience about the one line he cut from “Blazing Saddles” because it was too risqué.” He’s told this story before---if you want to find out what was cut, click here:

HARVEY KEITEL, 80, will play MEYER LANSKY (1902-1982) in a bio-pic about the famous Jewish gangster that begins filming in August. Lansky is a familiar screen character. The gangster character Hyman Roth in “The Godfather, Part II” was based on Lansky and he was a prominent character in the film “Bugsy”, about gangster BENJAMIN ‘BUGSY’ SIEGEL, a close friend of Lansky. The new film will cover the latter part of Lansky’s life and is based, in part, on interviews he gave in 1973 to ROBERT ROCKAWAY, now 80. Rockaway is professor emeritus at Tel Aviv University, and the author of “But He Was Good to His Mother: The Lives and Crimes of Jewish Gangsters” (2000). The new film is directed by Robert’s son, EYTAN, 30ish. He was born in New York, grew-up in Israel, and after his IDF service, went to New York University where he got a degree in filmmaking.

Josh Charles Fest

“The Loudest Voice” is a limited (seven-episode) Showtime series that premieres on June 30. It stars Russell Crowe as the late Roger Ailes, the creator and head of the Fox News Network. He was ousted from Fox in 2016 (a year before his death) amid a cascade of accusations that he had sexually harassed many Fox female employees, including former anchor Gretchen Carlson (played by Naomi Watts). JOSH CHARLES, 47, plays Bill Shine, Ailes’ long-time top aide at Fox. He took over Ailes’ job only to be ousted in 2017 when several lawsuits claimed he abetted Ailes’ sexual harassment. Shine became the White House communications director in June, 2018, but only lasted ten months in that job.

The documentary “Framing Delorean,” has been playing in just a smattering of theaters nationwide. It’s likely it won’t play near you. But it’s available, now, on most pay-per view streaming services.  As you might have guessed, the film is about John Delorean (1925-2005) the famous auto executive who headed-up the short-lived Delorean car company. There are many dramatic re-enactments in the film. Alec Baldwin plays Delorean and Josh Charles plays Bill Collins, an engineer who designed the Delorean car. Also dramatized is (real life) attorney HOWARD WEITZMAN, now 77, who lead the legal team that successfully defended Delorean on charges of cocaine trafficking.



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