Jews in the News: Steven Speilberg, J.J. Abrams and Billy Crystal

The film opens with teenager Lena (Alice Engelbert) arriving in the small town.  Lena is a "Caster," and like the rest of her extended family, has strong supernatural powers. When she turns 16, she will be required to decide whether she will follow a "light" (good) or "dark" (evil) path.  Lena quickly bonds with Ethan, a local teen who is bored with his hometown. Playing Ethan is the very handsome ALDEN EHRENREICH, 23. He was discovered by STEVEN SPIELBERG when he was 14. Spielberg chanced to see a funny video that Ehrenreich starred-in while attending a bat mitzvah. He contacted Ehrenreich and helped him get some TV guest roles. In 2007, Francis Ford Coppola picked Ehrenreich to star in his film "Tetro." It didn't do well when it opened in 2009. (I recently spoke to a source very close to Ehrenreich and she told me he is very proud of being Jewish.)

EMMY ROSSUM, 26 ("Shameless"), has a big supporting role as Lena's cousin Ridley, who has chosen the "dark" path.  ZOEY DEUTCH, 18, has another large supporting role as Emily, a former girlfriend of Ethan who now hates Ethan and Lena and leads a group opposed to any Caster.

This is Deutch's first big film role. In the last three years, she's had a large recurring roles on "Suite Life on Deck," a Disney Channel series, and on the CW series, "Ringer."  Her father is HOWARD DEUTCH, 63, a film director whose credits include "Pretty in Pink" and "Some Kind of Wonderful." While making the latter film, he met his wife, actress Lea Thompson, who is also Zoey's mother. In a recent interview, and twitter tweet, Zoey described herself as "Jewish." I don't believe Thompson, now 51, has converted to Judaism--but its possible. She recently did a public service ad for a Jewish health foundation, urging couples to test for genetic diseases that disproportionately affect Jews.

May the Jews Be with You

Last last month, came the news that Disney (which bought Lucas films last year) planned to make three new sequential films in the "Star Wars" saga and that they had hired J.J. ABRAMS, 46, to direct the first one, "Star Wars: Episode VII." The three films will be made over a six-year period, starting in 2015. Abrams' many stellar credits include directing the successful re-launch of the Star Trek movie series with his 2009 film, "Star Trek." Another Abrams' directed "Trek" film opens in May.

Disney head BOB IGER, 61, surprised many last week when he said that Disney had engaged LAWRENCE KASDAN, 64, and SIMON KINBERG, 39, "to work on" separate films that will serve as "stand-alone" spinoffs of the main new trilogy. Iger told CNBC that their films are "derived from great 'Star Wars' characters that are not part of the overall saga."

Kinberg is a top screenwriter ("Mr. and Mrs. Smith;" "X-Men"). Kasdan's notable credits include the screenplays for two of the best Star Wars pics: "The Empire Strikes Back" and "The Return of the Jedi."  He's also well known for directing and writing a number of dramatic hits, including "The Big Chill" and "Body Heat."

TV News: Schindler's List; Oscars Special, Corrected Date

On Saturday, Feb. 23, at 8PM, USA network will present a special, commercial free presentation of "Schindler's List." Director STEVEN SPIELBERG will provide a special introduction to his great Holocaust film, which was released twenty years ago. USA will offer additional information and resources at and through the interactive second screen experience app, Zeebox, in partnership with the USC Shoah Foundation.

On Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 10PM, ABC will air an Oscars special hosted by Katie Couric. It includes tons of celebs, including BILLY CRYSTAL; lots of clips from past Oscars shows; behind the scenes footage, and some celeb home movies.

Two weeks ago, I said in this column that a BBC America mini-series, "Spies of Warsaw," was set to start on Feb. 6. The date was changed: the two-part series will be shown on April 3 and April 10. I'll mention this again in late March.

Nate Bloom writes a weekly column on Jewish celebrities, broadly defined, that appears in the Atlanta Jewish Times, the 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. Most of the items in Bloom’s weekly newspaper column differ from the items in his bi-weekly column on interfaith celebrities for If you wish to contact Nate Bloom, e-mail him at  .  The author welcomes questions and celebrity “tips,” especially about people you personally know.



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