Lale Sokolov, Gita Furman and Harvey Keitel

Nate Bloom blogs on this week's Jews in the News.


A New Series Based on a Best-Seller, Three New Streaming Films, and More


The "Tattooist of Auschwitz" is a 6-episode, original series that premieres on Peacock on May 2. It is based on the real-life story of LALE SOKOLOV (1916-2006) and GITA FURMAN (1925-2003), who met in Auschwitz and, after the war, married and settled in Australia. Both were natives of Slovakia.

Sokolov sat down with writer Heather Morris after Gita’s death. He finally was ready to tell his “Auschwitz story.”

Morris used Sokolov’s story to write a historical novel that changed some details, but was essentially true to what Sokolov told her. The (Morris) book version of “The Tattooist” was a huge seller and the series is based on the novel.

Morris is a character in the series. We see Morris (Melanie Lynskey) talking to the elderly Sokolov (HARVEY KEITEL, 84). The young Sokolov is played by Brit actor JONAH HAUER-KING, 28. His most seen role is the Prince in "The Little Mermaid" (2023 version.  Gita is played by Anna Prochinak, a Polish actress.

Sokolov’s survival was due to many dramatic events. However, there is no doubt he would have died if he had not become a tattooist who tattooed numbers on the arms of incoming prisoners. He arrived in Auschwitz in April, 1942, and a few months later he was near death from typhus.  Then “fortune” intervened: a veteran Jewish tattooist took an interest in Sokolov and trained him as his apprentice.

The TCM movie channel just sponsored a 30th anniversary celebration of the “uber” hit film “Pulp Fiction” (1994). Harvey Keitel joined three other cast members on an interview stage (Uma Thurman, Samuel Jackson, and Jon Travolta). They were asked about their relationship with Quentin Tarantino (the “Pulp” writer/director) and about the film, itself (interview is on Youtube).

Keitel said he met and befriended Tarantino before Tarantino made “Reservoir Dogs”, his first movie (Keitel was also in ‘Reservoir’). Keitel didn’t say he was a Tarantino mentor-- which he kind-of-was---but he did relate that the poverty-stricken Tarantino ate everything in his fridge.

It occurred to me that Keitel and Tarantino probably have talked a lot about Israel. Keitel married DAPHNA KASTNER, now 62, in Jerusalem (2001). Kastner, a Canadian,  grew-up visiting family in Haifa every summer. The couple has one child.

Tarantino, who isn’t religious, wed Israeli singer and model DANIELLA PICK, 40, in a Reform Jewish ceremony (2018) and they have 2 children. The couple spends half the year in Israel.

“Unfrosted” is a comedy film that premieres on May 3rd on Netflix. The film chronicles the competition between Kellogg and Post Cereal to produce a revolutionary pastry in 1963.

Both companies put a pastry on the market in 1964. Post’s was called “Country Squares” and Kellogg’s entry was (and is) called “Pop-Tarts”. Consumers loved Pop-Tarts and most didn’t like Country Squares

The screenplay was co-written by JERRY SEINFELD, who turned 70 on April 29. Seinfeld also stars in the film and he directed the film (it’s the first film he directed). The large supporting cast includes Melissa McCarthy, Hugh Grant,  AMY SCHUMER, 42, and DAN LEVY, 40.

“Prom Dates” is a comedy film that premieres on Hulu on May 3. Basic plot: everything goes haywire for two teen girls when they break-up with their boyfriends just before prom. CHELSEA HANDLER, 49, has a juicy supporting role as the mother of one of the boyfriends.

“The Idea of You” is a romantic comedy film that premieres on May 2 on Amazon Prime. It chronicles the love affair between Solene, a single mother (Anne Hathaway) and Nicholas, the lead singer of a popular boy band, who is about 16 years younger than Solene. They met when Solene attended a music festival, with her teen daughter.

The teen daughter is played by ELLA RUBIN, 22. The film was directed by MICHAEL SHOWALTER, 54, and it was co-written by Showalter and JENNIFER WESTFELDT, 53 (“Kissing Jessica Stein”). Showalter and Westfeldt both have a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father. Both identify as Jewish.

A film about the life of FRANZ KAFKA (1883-1924), the famous Jewish writer, began filming in Prague (Kafka’s hometown) last month and should finish filming this month. The film is directed by AGNIESZKA HOLLAND. 75, a Pole who has directed two well-received films about the Holocaust: “Europa Europa” and “In Darkness”. (Holland’s father was Jewish. She was raised “nothing”).

Through Kafka writings, Holland says, she will provide a “mosaic” of his whole life. I hope his bar mitzvah will appear (yes, he had one). I always wanted to see a literally Kafkaesque bar mitzvah.


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