Nate Bloom blogs on this week’s Jews in the News
New Flicks: Hostages and Karate Chop Teachers
The following movies “open wide” on Friday, Oct. 12
“Argo” is based on true events: in November 1979, Iranian militants seized the American embassy and held 52 embassy members hostage until Jan. 1981. Six staff members, away from the Embassy during the seizure, managed to find refuge in the home of Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor. A CIA agent came-up with a plan to pretend that a Hollywood film company wanted to make a film (called “Argo”) in Iran. The six Americans pretended to be part of the film’s location scouting crew and were able to board (Jan. 1980) a regular flight out of Iran. Ben Affleck, who also directed the film, plays the CIA agent, with ALAN ARKIN, 79, playing a fictional Hollywood producer who helps him. John Goodman plays a Hollywood make-up man who helped disguise the Americans.
Canadian media outlets issued scathing criticism of “Argo” when it played the Toronto Film Festival last month. They said that Taylor’s paramount role in the whole operation, and the real personal risk he took in harboring the Americans, had been severely downplayed. Meanwhile, the role of the CIA agent had been “puffed” out of all recognition. Affleck, who didn’t write the script, met with Taylor just after the film festival and sort of apologized. A written “history” message that plays after the film ends has been recently altered to give more credit to the Canadians. This all said; “Argo” has “good buzz” in terms of being an exciting, well-crafted movie.
“Here Comes the Boom” is a comedy starring Kevin James as a high school biology teacher who becomes a martial arts fighter to raise money to save his school’s music program and the job of his music teacher buddy (HENRY WINKLER, 66). This movie kind of sounds like “Mr. Holland’s Opus” meets “Kung Fu Panda.” I recall a 1978 episode of “Happy Days” in which Winkler (playing “Fonzie”) didn’t have to beat-up anyone (or be beat up) to raise funds for a good cause. All the charismatic Fonzie had to do was sit in a booth and wait for oodles of girls to pay for a kiss for charity. But those were simpler and less hard times.
This week, and next, the Nobel Prizes will be announced. Recently, I came across the 2009 memoir of NICHOLAS MEYER, 67, and it includes a funny anecdote about Nobel Prize winner ALBERT EINSTEIN (1879-1955). Meyer’s credits include writing the crackling good Sherlock Holmes-meets-SIGMUND FREUD novel, “The Seven Percent Solution,” and co-writing the screenplay for the successful 1976 film of the same name. He also co-wrote and directed “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” (1982). Its success re-vitalized the whole “Star Trek” ‘franchise’.
Meyer’s father was a Manhattan psychoanalyst and a good amateur pianist. His mother was a concert pianist. The rarefied intellectual circles they moved in included Einstein. Yes, of course, Einstein was a much more complex man than the always genial, sometimes absent minded professor that popular culture often makes him out to be. But in Meyer’s only meeting with Einstein, he lived up to the “cute professor” stereotype. Meyer’s family attended a Thanksgiving dinner in Princeton, where Einstein taught. Before dinner, Meyer’s father played piano, accompanied by Einstein on “squeaky” violin. The eight-year-old Meyer was seated next to Einstein at the dinner table. He leaned over and told the great man that he thought he had a hair on his turkey. Einstein replied: “Not so loud. Everyone else will want one.”
Don’t trust unreliable internet sources that say that actress Anne Hathaway, 29, and actor/jewelry designer ADAM SHULMAN, 31, had a Jewish or interfaith wedding on Sept. 29. No reliable source has yet made clear what sort of wedding they had. Hathaway, raised a Catholic, left the Church at 15. Here’s some reliable stuff on Shulman I dug-out that is not found elsewhere: His jewelry line, James Bank Designs, is named after his maternal Jewish grandfather. His father, MARK, was head of several dept. stores including Henri Bendel’s and Filene’s Basement.
Starting on Tuesday, Oct. 16, at 10PM is the scripted, 12-episode MTV drama, “Underemployed.” It follows the lives of five friends coping with the problems our current economy poses for new college grads. JARED KUSNITZ, 21, plays Lou, an aspiring environmentalist. Kusnitz recently tweeted: “My mom just compared me to [singer] ADAM LEVINE. Her main comparison being that we’re both tall, skinny and Jewish.”
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.