Check out the latest “Jews in the News” post from Nate Bloom.
Cars, Teachers, Gardeners
“Cars 2” is the sequel to “Cars” (2006); the mega-hit animated film from Pixar studio (opens Friday, June 24). This time the lead (car) characters compete in a world Grand Prix race. British Jewish actor JASON ISAACS, 48, has a large role as the voice of “Siddeley,” a state-of-the-art British twin-engine spy jet. The screenplay was co-written by DAN FOGELMAN, 40, who also co-wrote the original “Cars.” Ten years ago, Fogelman was writing blurbs for the TV Guide network while, in his spare time, he wrote his first screenplay, a movie about a bar mitzvah. He says: “I thought there might be some agents who were Jewish who would like it. It worked.” (He got an agent). That screenplay was never produced; but his agent helped get him a job co-writing “Cars” for Pixar. Subsequently, he wrote the hit Disney animated films “Bolt” and “Tangled.” His live-action comedy, “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” starring Steve Carrell, opens next month.
“Bad Teacher,” a comedy which also opens on the 24th, stars Cameron Diaz as a foul-mouthed public high school teacher who couldn’t care less about her job or her students. She’s just looking for a rich husband who will allow her to quit her job forever. She sets her sights on a handsome substitute teacher (Justin Timberlake) who happens to be the heir to a big fortune. The sub is a bit smitten, however, with another teacher. Diaz thinks that some “enhancement” plastic surgery is the way to snare the sub. She finds out that a “best teacher” award comes with a big cash prize that could pay for the surgery. So, she changes gears and manically tries to turn her students into scholars. Meanwhile, Diaz fends off the advances of a sarcastic gym teacher (JASON SEGAL, 31).
“A Better Life,” which opens in many cities on the 24th, is the poignant, but realistic story of an undocumented Mexican gardener in Los Angeles who struggles to keep his son from gangs and immigration agents while he ekes out a living working for the wealthy. The script’s quality was so high that it led CHRIS WEITZ, 42, (“Golden Compass,” “About a Boy,”) to sign-on to direct– and actress JAIME GERTZ, 46, (“Still Standing”) to make the film the first project of her new production company.
New on TV
The seasoned lawyer is played by GABRIEL MACHT, 38, a handsome and competent actor who has worked steadily, but never found a real star breakthrough role. Maybe this series will do it for him.
His father, actor STEPHEN MACHT, 69, has had a similar career. Almost every older TV viewer could recognize Stephen Macht’s face. However, he has never had a “big time” star role (even though he has appeared in scores of TV series and soaps, including regular roles on “Knot’s Landing” and “General Hospital”) Stephen Macht recently told a Las Vegas paper that he was raised with little religion (although his wife, Gabriel’s mother, is Jewish)—and it wasn’t until he was in his ‘40s that he became religious. More recently, he graduated from a two-year intense Torah and Hebrew study program and has, in effect, become a lay chaplain. He can and does perform pastoral duties like visiting the sick.
The older Macht added that if he was more religious back in the early ‘80s, he wouldn’t have been so full of himself, and would have realized that he was being a “tuchas” (his exact word) when he passed on role that would have made him a big TV star: playing the captain of the starship in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Gene Roddenberry, Trek’s creator, implored Macht to read for the role and almost guaranteed him the part. But Macht says he thought, at that moment in his career, that he could do better than playing a character who “talks to aliens with ten heads” and turned Roddenberry down. Well, Patrick Stewart got the role and TV stardom.
Starting Tuesday, June 28, at 8PM, is the TLC cable series, “I Kid with Brad Garrett.” GARRETT, 51, of “Everyone Loves Raymond” fame, does candid and funny interviews with real kids.
Starting on Wednesday, June 29, at 10PM is the USA network series, “Necessary Roughness,” about a sexy female therapist for a pro team. It co-stars SCOTT COHEN, 49 (“Kissing Jessica Stein”).
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.