Nate Bloom blogs on this week’s Jews in the News.
“People Like Us” stars Chris Pine (“Star Trek”) as Sam, a 20-something, unsuccessful salesman whose father suddenly dies, leaving Sam the job of putting his father’s estate in order. He discovers that he has a 30-year-old alcoholic sister, Frankie (ELIZABETH BANKS, 38), whom he never knew about. Frankie has a 12-year-old son with anger management issues. Sam’s father leaves Frankie $150,000, which Sam is supposed to deliver. Sam doesn’t want to part with the money, but does contact Frankie without revealing who he really is. As you might imagine, things change as they get to know each other. (Opens Friday, June 29)
The strong cast includes Olivia Wilde as Sam’s girlfriend and Michelle Pfeiffer as his mother. Mark Duplass plays a neighbor of Frankie who develops a romantic interest in her. “People” is the first movie directed by ALEX KURTZMAN, 38, who co-wrote this film. He also co-wrote the hits “Star Trek” and “Mission Impossible III.” By the way, Pine’s maternal grandfather, a big time Hollywood lawyer, was Jewish.
”Ted” marks the big screen debut of Seth MacFarlane, the creator of the hit animated TV show “The Family Guy.” MacFarlane wrote and directed “Ted,” which is mostly live action with some animation. The plot of “Ted” is certainly not conventional. The main character is John Bennett (played as an adult by Mark Wahlberg). John is a normal kid except for one thing: when John is eight years old he wishes that this teddy bear would come to life and his wish comes true. The bear, Ted, (voiced by MacFarlane) remains John’s best friend into his adulthood. Things turn sour when Ted’s vulgar slacker lifestyle hampers John’s attempt to become a mature adult and pursue a romance with Lori (MILA KUNIS, 28).
ALEX BORSTEIN, 39, has a supporting role as John’s mother. Borstein has been a main voice actor (“Lois Griffin”) on “Family Guy” since 1999. Kunis began doing the voice of “Meg Griffin” on “The Family Guy” back in 2000 when she was only 15 and continues to voice Meg to this day. (Opens June 29)
The press description for the new book “Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero,” succinctly summarizes it: “Seventy-five years after he came to life, Superman remains one of America’s most adored and enduring heroes. Now Larry Tye, the prize-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author of “Satchel,” has written the first full-fledged history not just of the Man of Steel but of the creators, designers, owners, and performers who made him the icon he is today.” TYE, 41, is especially well qualified to write about the “Jewish roots” of Superman—his other works include a book of essays about Jews in the Diaspora (“Homeland”) and a biography of EDWARD BERNAYS, a nephew of SIGMUND FREUD who was the founder of the field of modern public relations.
On June 18, Tye appeared on “Fresh Air,” the NPR radio show hosted by TERRY GROSS, 61, and Gross asked him about Superman’s ‘Jewish “roots,’ noting first that JERRY SIEGEL, the creator/original writer of Superman was Jewish—as was JOSEPH SCHUSTER, the original illustrator of Superman. Tye replied: “Jerry called his character, as he came down from Krypton, ‘Kal-El’ which [ roughly means] ‘a vessel of God’ in Hebrew. So we have this character coming down, being put down in space by his parents to try and save him, and being rescued by two gentiles in the middle of the Midwest somewhere in America. If that’s not the story of Exodus and Moses, then I’ve never seen that story told well. This was a time when we were on the eve of World War II, and the Nazis were on the brink of coming to power in Germany. … I think this idea of this baby being rescued was a sense of what was going on in Europe, where Jerry’s ancestors had come from. … And it’s a rule of thumb that when a name ends in m-a-n, the person whose name that is, they’re either a superhero or Jewish or both.”
Gross laughed at the “m-a-n” comment and proceeded to pronounce a couple of superhero names as if they were Jewish last names—and I laughed, too. Try it yourself: say the superhero’s name like this: “Souper-man”. Sounds like a Jewish last name, nu? Or pronounce Spider-Man like Gross did: “Spy—DER-min.” In an instant the name ceases to be a superhero and sounds like any name on a synagogue membership roster.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org . The author welcomes questions and celebrity “tips,” especially about people you personally know.