Glee’s Super Bowl Spectacular
The “Glee” episode airing on Fox on Sunday, Feb. 6th (right after the Super Bowl ends) is a real blow-out: costing $3-$5 million, and sponsored by General Motors (with limited ads)—most of the musical numbers take place during the half-time of a championship high school football game. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” will be performed. (Anticipate it going on the air about 10PM EST).
“The Glee” Super Bowl episode is directed by BRAD FALCHUK, the show’s co-creator. His mother, NANCY FALCHUK, is national president of Hadassah. Featured in the episode is recurring character Dave Karnofsky, a big bullying football player. It was revealed in a November 2010 episode that the Karnofsky character is a “deeply closeted” gay teen.
I recently was able to confirm that actor MAX ADLER, 25, who plays Karnofsky, is Jewish. Last November, Adler and fellow cast member JOSH SUSSMAN, 27 (who plays Jacob Ben Israel), co-narrated the Anti-Defamation League’s “Concert Against Hate” in Washington, D.C. The event honored those who stood up to bullying based on race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.
CBS news anchor Katie Couric, 53, is the guest star on the Super Bowl episode and she plays herself. Couric’s father is Presbyterian. Her mother was born Jewish. However, Katie’s mother converted to her husband’s faith shortly before her marriage (1944). Katie Couric didn’t publicly reveal her Jewish background until 2004 and even most of her oldest friends didn’t know about it before then. In 2007, former NY Times reporter EDWARD KLEIN, in his biography, “Katie: The Real Story,” discussed the conversion. He wrote that the conversion was very rarely discussed in the Couric household and the mother’s reasons for adopting her husband’s faith remain somewhat mysterious. However, Klein asserts that Katie and her three older siblings came to believe that their mother became a Protestant to make her children’s lives easier (the family lived in a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. that was very Southern/WASPy in the ‘40s and ‘50s).
Fun Oscar Nominee
I didn’t know, until last week, that LEE UNKRICH, 43, the director of “Toy Story 3,” is Jewish. But my friends at the Cleveland Jewish News tipped me off. Unkrich grew-up in the Cleveland suburb of Chagrin Falls. (Doesn’t that sound like a town name you’d find in a Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon?) He studied acting in Cleveland and then got a degree (1990) in cinema from the Univ. of Southern California. In 1995, the new Pixar animation studio, located near San Francisco, asked him to take a temporary assignment—editing some of the footage of the first “Toy Story” movie. He stayed-on with Pixar, and in 1999, he was promoted to co-director of “Toy Story 2”. He was also the co-director on two other Pixar hits: “Monsters, Inc.” and “Finding Nemo.” He was the sole director of “Toy Story 3,” and was one of the co-writers of the film.
Unkrich appeared at the 2011 Golden Globe awards to accept the Globe for “Toy Story 3” (best animated film). He is personally nominated for two 2011 Oscars: best animated film and best original screenplay.
Unkrich and his wife have three children and belong to a San Francisco area synagogue. Some years back, he showed an early preview of a Pixar film (“The Incredibles”) as a special fundraiser for his local Jewish Federation’s early childhood education programs. His daughter, HANNAH, was bat mitzvah last May. Hannah did the voice of Molly, the sister of Andy the lead “human” character, in “Toy Story 2”.
The 100th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan’s birth occurs on Feb. 6, 2011. HBO and the BBC have combined to put together what appears to be an excellent documentary on the late President. It premieres on Monday evening, Feb. 7 (multiple showings.). The director is EUGENE JARECKI, 41, an acclaimed documentary maker. Eugene’s (Jewish) father was a child when he fled Nazi Germany in 1939 with his parents. His Jewish mother is a second generation American of Russian Jewish ancestry. The Hollywood Reporter review says: “In this probing and fascinating HBO documentary, filmmaker Eugene Jarecki impressively distinguishes Reagan the man from Reagan the myth. With its astute political and psychological observations, it will impress both sides of the political aisle.” Likewise, a critic who saw the film at the Sundance Film Festival writes: “It presents Reagan as a complex, multi-faceted figure while simultaneously acknowledging his failings – such as willfully ignoring the AIDS crisis – and his accomplishments – working towards nuclear arms reductions.”
Nate Bloom writes a weekly column on Jewish celebrities. For the purpose of this column, Bloom defines someone as Jewish if they have at least one Jewish parent, were not raised in a faith other than Judaism, and do not follow a faith other than Judaism as an adult. (Also counted as Jewish are converts to Judaism). Persons who meet this definition are in bold type, above. You can reach Nate Bloom by writing him at email@example.com