Grammys and More Music News
The Grammy awards, for musical excellence, air on CBS on Sunday, Feb. 12, at 8PM. Presenters include GWYNETH PALTROW, 39, and DRAKE, 25, the superstar rapper. Drake’s second smash-hit album, “Take Care,” was released (Nov. 2011) too late for 2012 Grammy consideration. But next year, he’ll certainly be a multiple nominee. 2012 Jewish nominees in the “marquee” categories include ARI LEVINE, 30, who co-produced and co-wrote “Grenade,” sung by Bruno Mars. It’s up for song and record of the year and Levine is nominated for producer of the year. Also: ADAM LEVINE, 32, the lead singer of Maroon 5, is up for the best pop duo performance Grammy (“Moves Like Jagger,” with Christina Aguilera). Nominated in the same category are Tony Bennett and the late AMY WINEHOUSE (“Body and Soul”). BARBRA STEISAND’s CD, “What Matters Most” is nominated for best traditional pop album and ANDY SAMBERG’s comedy trio, Lonely Island, is up for best comedy CD Grammy. Samberg, by the way, will guest star on “30 Rock” later this season.
On Jan. 31, “Old Ideas,” a new CD by legendary singer/songwriter LEONARD COHEN, 77, was released. ADAM COHEN, 39, Leonard’s son, is also a singer/songwriter. Last November, on his website, Adam wrote that his mother (artist SUZANNE ELROD) and his father had a bitter split when he was about 5 years old and his father wasn’t allowed on his mother’s property. So, Leonard lived in a trailer just off the property for several years and Adam visited his father there. Here is what Adam said about those visits: “In retrospect, every visit was an education. He was there to protect values. It would be lighting the Sabbath candles and learning Hebrew prayers, singing songs, reading the bible. In the Jewish tradition, ‘Cohen’ is the high-priest. It’s no accident my father has a ministerial quality. As a father, he still continues to feel like a shepherd imparting an ancient understanding.”
Oscar nominee JONAH HILL really is dating ALI HOFFMAN, Dustin’s daughter. She was his date at the recent SAG Awards. Makes me wonder whether Hill lost all that weight for reasons other than career… Remember actor BRONSON PINCHOT, 52, who co-starred on TV’s “Perfect Strangers?” Born Bronson Poncharavsky, he’s the secular son of a Jewish father/non-Jewish mother. Since 1999, he has been masterfully restoring 19th century buildings in the small town of Haverford, PA (he does a lot of the work, himself). The new six-episode DIY (“Do It Yourself”) cable channel show, “The Bronson Pinchot Project,” shows off Pinchot’s work. (Starts Saturday, Feb.11, at 10:30PM)
Zach Braff and Mitt Romney—Related!
Actor ZACH BRAFF, 36, who is Jewish, and former Governor Mitt Romney, 63, a devout Mormon, seem worlds apart. They were they brought-up in different religions and have very different personalities. Many have said that Mitt Romney is incredibly “buttoned-up” and he doesn’t seem to be able to convey much humor on the campaign trail. On the other hand, Braff obviously has a great sense of humor. He showed this during the long run of his TV sit-com “Scrubs.” As for “emotion”: Braff directed, wrote, and starred-in the indie film hit, “Garden State” (2004). He virtually laid his character’s soul bare in this film about very intense family conflicts. Nonetheless, Braff and Romney really are (very distant) blood cousins and they are both 8th generation descendants of Rebecca Nurse (1621-1692), a devout Protestant woman who was falsely accused of practicing witchcraft at the infamous Salem, Mass. witchcraft trials and hanged. Nurse is a central character in the great 1952 play, “The Crucible,” by ARTHUR MILLER.
My friend Michael, a family history expert, recently came across two obscure interviews with Braff and his brother, novelist JOSHUA BRAFF, 42, in which they both said that their mother, who was born into an old New England “WASP” family, converted to Judaism before marrying their Jewish father. (The conversion was either Orthodox or Conservative, probably the former). On a hunch, Michael looked far back in Braff’s mother’s family tree and Romney’s family tree and found out their mutual descent from Rebecca Nurse and their blood cousinhood.
I laughed a little when Michael told me all this. Its pretty “funny” that a Jewish comic actor, and a Mormon businessman running for President, are both descendants of a devout Puritan Protestant woman who was persecuted by other Protestants on a false charge of witchcraft and Satanism. As they used to say: “Only in America.”
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 InterfaithFamily.com. If you wish to contact Nate Bloom, e-mail him at email@example.com . The author welcomes questions and celebrity “tips,” especially about people you personally know.