Friday, August 12, 2005 | return to: celebrities


Celebrity Jews

by nate bloom

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Actress Amanda Peet ("Something's Gotta Give") just got engaged to screenwriter/novelist David Benioff. The prospective groom adapted his novel "The 25th Hour" into a Spike Lee film and also penned the movies "Troy" and "Stay" (the latter to open in October).

Although Benioff was born into a wealthy family (his father was once head of Goldman Sachs), he gained some "regular people" experience as a nightclub bouncer and as a Wyoming schoolteacher. He says that the plot for "The 25th Hour" came to him on a visit home to New York to celebrate Passover.

Also just engaged is "Hairspray" musical star Marissa Jaret Winokur. The lucky guy is comedy writer Judah Miller, a writer for "Stacked," the Fox TV series in which Winokur co-stars.


A promising movie with lots of Jewish connections is "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," a comedy/drama about a guy (Steve Carrell) who remains chaste until he meets Catherine Keener. Helmed and co-written by first-time film director Judd Apatow (TV's "Freaks and Geeks"), "Virgin" has a good advance buzz as an intelligent charmer. Co-stars include Paul Rudd ("Friends"), Seth Rogen ("Freaks and Geeks") and Elizabeth Banks ("Heights").

The buzz isn't so good for "Deuce Bigelow II" starring Rob Schneider, our favorite native San Franciscan Jewish/Filipino comic. You might wait for the DVD.

Getting better advance praise is "Four Brothers." It's an action flick that, while set in the present, is based on the '60s western "The Sons of Katie Elder." It features Mark Wahlberg as one of four brothers who revenge the death of their mother. Josh Charles, the Jewish star of TV's "Sports Night," has an important supporting role.

Bacall on Cruise control

Screen legend Lauren Bacall recently said this about Tom Cruise to Time magazine: "His whole behavior is so shocking. It's inappropriate and vulgar and absolutely unacceptable to use your private life to sell anything commercially, but I think it's a kind of sickness."

Bacall was referring to such recent Cruise antics as jumping on couches on "Oprah" while shouting about his love for Katie Holmes.

I thought Bacall could have more elegantly criticized Cruise if she just paraphrased some lines from her first screen role in "To Have and Have Not" (1942). In a famous scene, Bacall says in a sexy voice to Bogie, "You don't have to do anything for me, Steve ... Oh maybe whistle, you know how to whistle, Steve, you just put your lips together and — blow."

As to Cruise, she might have said, "You know how to shut up, Tom. You just put your lips together— and keep them there."

'Papal page turner'

"I'm a Jewish Puerto Rican and I found this story incredibly compelling. He's a great character."

So said CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler about CBS' planned miniseries on the life of Pope John Paul II. Tassler said she had read the first part of the series and found it a "papal page-turner."

Tassler, the daughter of a Puerto Rican mother and Jewish father, is a practicing Jew, as is her husband.

Columnist Nate Bloom, an Oaklander, can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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