Jews in the News
Nate Bloom, Contributing Columnist
Fighter/Can Brooks Rise Above the Meyer?
The boxing film, “The Fighter,” and the comedy, “How DoThe boxing film, “The Fighter,” and the comedy, “How Do You Know,” open on Friday, Dec. 17. “Fighter” is based on the true story of Mickey “Irish” Ward, a poor Boston boy who won a welterweight title in 1997 and had some incredible comeback fights. Mark Wahlberg plays Ward. The film is directed by DAVID O. RUSSELL, 52, whose most successful film was “Three Kings” (1999). My favorite Russell film, however, is the 1996 comedy, “Flirting with Disaster,” in which BEN STILLER played the adopted son of a Jewish couple looking for his birth parents. Russell is the secular son of a Jewish father and an Italian Catholic mother.
For over 40 years, director/writer JAMES L. BROOKS has set the standard for the best in intelligent comedy—although sometimes he doesn’t rise to his own standard. Brooks, 70, began in TV, creating “Room 222,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Rhoda,” “Lou Grant,” and “Taxi.” In 1987, he made (directed and wrote) his first of his six films to date—three have been huge hits: “Terms of Endearment,” “Broadcast News,” and “As Good as It Gets.” “How Do You Know” is his first film since “Spanglish” (2004), a so/so movie starring ADAM SANDLER.
For years, most critics said that director/writer NANCY MEYERS, 61 (“Something’s Gotta Give,” “It’s Complicated”) made “Brooks-like” romantic comedies that were good—but didn’t quite match Brooks’ wit or profundity. However, in the last decade, Meyers has had four hits in a row and the question, now, is whether Brooks can rise again over “the Meyer.” “How Do You Know” certainly has “hit” star power and we’ll just have to see if it’s a return to form. Reese Witherspoon plays a pro softball player involved in a romantic triangle. Her suitors are a major league pitcher (Owen Wilson) and a corporate exec (PAUL RUDD, 41). Jack Nicholson plays Rudd’s father.
I didn’t cover the film musical, “Burlesque,” when it opened in late November because it didn’t seem to have many Jewish connections and, frankly, I was weirded-out by seeing Cher, the film’s co-star, on TV talking about the movie. I like Cher, but her overuse of plastic surgery is reaching creepy proportions. The movie does feature the very handsome ERIC DANE, 38, in a non-singing, “eye candy” role (Dane’s mother is Jewish and he identifies as Jewish).
The boxing film, “The Fighter,” and the comedy, “How DoRight after the film opened, I caught a reference to the fact that STEVE ANTIN, 52, the film’s openly gay director/screenwriter, is the brother of (straight) celebrity hairstylist JONATHAN ANTIN, 43, the star of the “Bravo” reality series, “Blow-Out.” Their sister, ROBIN ANTIN, 49, is a choreographer who created the Pussycat Dolls burlesque/dance/rock group. Years ago, Jonathan was identified as Jewish in a newspaper profile.
I was surprised, therefore, when I saw Steve Antin described as “not Jewish” on Wikipedia, the popular, user-creator online encyclopedia. I figured out that this error was a result of someone completely misreading a passage in a print biography of billionaire record/film producer DAVID GEFFEN, 72. Here’s what the book really says: Geffen, a bi-sexual, was once engaged to Cher. But he decided to only date men around 1982. Steve Antin, who he was involved with from 1982-83, was Geffen’s first public gay boyfriend. Antin, then an actor (“Goonies”), was a very cute blond who didn’t look stereotypically Jewish.
When Antin first met Geffen’s Russian-born mother, BATYA, she looked at Antin and said, “He’s not Jewish.” Geffen said he was. Batya then took a closer look at Antin, like a diamond merchant checking wares, and declared, “You are not Jewish!” Antin replied: “I’m Jewish. I promise you, I’m Jewish.”
Cinematographer NEIL ANTIN, another sibling, writes on his website that his parents were “almost Orthodox” English Jews who came to America in the ‘50s. Wikipedia, by the way, is now silent on Antin’s religion—“the not Jewish” line was edited out on Dec.1, after being up for two years. Celebs “mysteriously change” religion on that site all the time.
“Burlesque” got mixed reviews and is carried by its musical stars, Cher and Christina Aguilera. But when you know the Steve Antin “back-story” you can see why a burlesque-themed musical, starring Cher, was right up his alley.
Paltrow on “E”
Actress and part-time singer GWYNETH PALTROW, 38, is the subject of an “E” cable station “True Hollywood Story” premiering Wednesday, Dec. 22, at 10PM. Her new film, “Country Strong,” opens in very limited release the same day. It opens “wide” on Jan. 7.