Thursday, June 5, 2014 | return to: columns, celebrities


celebrity jews

by nate bloom

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Tony Awards time

Mare Winningham
Mare Winningham

The Tony Awards for excellence in Broadway theater will be broadcast at 8 p.m. Sunday, June 8. Hugh Jackman hosts on CBS. Jewish nominees in the marquee categories are Idina Menzel, 42, “If/Then” (lead actress, musical); Stephen Fry, 56, “Twelfth Night” (featured actor, play); Mare Winningham, 55, “Casa Valentina” and Sophie Okonedo, 46, “A Raisin in the Sun” (featured actress, play); and Danny Burstein, 49, “Cabaret,” and Jarrod Spector, 34, “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” (featured actor, musical).

Authors James Lapine, 65, “Act One,” and Harvey Fierstein, 60, “Casa Valentina,” are nominees for best play. Best musical, songwriters: “After Midnight,” a revival revue featuring the work of four legendary songwriters, including the music of the late Harold Arlen and lyrics by the late Dorothy Fields; “Aladdin” by Alan Menken, 65, and the late Howard Ashman; “Beautiful,” with songs by Carole King, 72, and four of her contemporary (Jewish) rock songwriters; “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder” with lyrics by Robert L. Freedman, 56, and music and lyrics by Steven Lutvak, 56.

Danny Burstein
Danny Burstein

The songwriters for “Gentleman’s Guide” and “Aladdin” also are nominees for best original score. Also in this category: Jason Robert Brown, 43, “The Bridges of Madison County,” and Tom Kitt, 40, “If/Then.” Woody Allen, 79, is nominated for best book (script) of the musical version of “Bullets over Broadway,” as is Freedman for “Gentleman’s Guide.”






A little Jewish background

“Act One” is based on the autobiography of the late playwright-producer Moss Hart. The play is told in flashbacks with Hart, as an adult, narrating. Tony Shalhoub, nominated for lead actor, plays three (!) roles: the adult Hart, Hart’s father and playwright George S. Kaufman.

Burstein (“Cabaret”) is nominated for his role as Herr Schultz, an elderly German Jewish storekeeper, while Spector (“Beautiful”) is nominated for playing songwriter Barry Mann, 75. Mann and his wife, Cynthia Weil, 73, wrote scads of hits, including “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.”

“Gentleman’s Guide” nominee Lutvak also scored the music for “Hannah Senesh,” a 1985 one-woman play about the Hungarian poet and paratrooper who was killed by the Nazis. It’s been performed worldwide and Senesh’s mother (then 90) saw an Israeli production. Lutvak’s comments to a San Diego Jewish website about his background made me laugh: “I grew up in a modern kosher home (we ate lobster in the backyard).”


Big stakes and big screen

Ansel Elgort
Ansel Elgort
The Belmont Stakes, the third and final horse race in the Triple Crown, will be shown on NBC on Saturday, June 7, with coverage starting at 1:30 p.m. California Chrome, trained by Art Sherman, 77, will try to be the first horse since 1978 to win all three races. Sherman lived until recently in San Mateo. (See J.’s story at

“Edge of Tomorrow” and “The Fault In Our Stars” open on Friday, June 6. The former stars Tom Cruise as a desk-bound Army officer who gets thrown into a very bloody personal battle with a space alien race. Familiar material, but this one sounds like it has interesting twists, and the director, Doug Liman, 48, who also directed several “Bourne” films, has a strong track record.

“Fault” is a romantic comedy-drama based on a best-selling novel by John Green. It stars Shailene Woodley as a teen with terminal cancer and Ansel Elgort, 20, as a wonderful guy who takes her to meet her favorite author. Nat Wolff, 19, has a big supporting role.

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


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