Celebrity Jews

Thursday, October 6, 2005 | by nate bloom

Wedding bells

Actress Jennifer Jason Leigh, 43, married film director Noah Baumbach, 36, recently. It was the first marriage for both of them. Baumbach told a reporter, “I expect to be with her the rest of my life.”

The groom, whose father is Jewish novelist Jonathan Baumbach, is a successful indie film director and screenwriter. His new film, “The Squid and the Whale,” which he directed and wrote, is about the marriage of a Jewish professor (Jeff Daniels) to his writer wife (Laura Linney). The movie opened in limited release on Wednesday, Oct. 5, and will be shown at the Mill Valley Film Festival (Oct. 16) as part of a series of Jewish-themed films. Owen Kline and Jesse Eisenberg co-star as the couple’s sons. Kline, 14, is the son of Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline, who are great friends with Leigh.




Louisiana links

New Orleans may not seem like a Jewish hotbed, but a few famous Jews were born there: playwright Lillian Hellman (1905-1984), actress Kitty Carlisle (still active at 95) and composer/singer Randy Newman. Newman’s Southern Jewish mother married a California Jewish doctor, but when he went into the service during WWII, she decided to go home to New Orleans for her pregnancy with her son.

Newman’s song “Louisiana 1927” (with the chorus “they’re trying to wash us away”) has become the most played song at Katrina victim benefits. So it’s not a surprise that actor Kevin Kline sang it during a recent New Yorker magazine event for Katrina victims. Other Jewish celebs in attendance included Woody Allen (who played his clarinet with a New Orleans jazz band), New Yorker chief editor David Remnick, writer Calvin Trillin and rocker Lou Reed, who also sang a song.




Shaeffer shofar

On Sept. 22, David Letterman show bandleader Paul Shaeffer was a judge at the “Great Shofar Blast Off” in New York. Won by Kalman Feinberg of New Jersey, the event was sponsored by the National Jewish Outreach Project. Top shofar blowers from around the country, as determined by videotape submissions, were flown to New York where they judged live based on clarity of sound, accuracy according to Jewish law, length of blast and overall performance.

Shaeffer, who doesn’t work on Yom Kippur, told a reporter that the “shofar is one instrument I cannot play” and that “I can’t resist the sound of the shofar, haven’t been able to since I was a kid. It wakes you up and stirs your soul, if done properly, and it always has.” 




Recent premieres

Shia Labeouf (“Even Stevens” and “Holes”), the cute young Jewish guy with the Hebrew/Cajun name, has his first adult starring role in “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” which opened Friday, Sept. 30, in most theaters and got good reviews. Based on a true story, Labeouf plays a young golfer who challenged a seasoned champion for the 1913 U.S. Open title.

“Serenity,” a sci-fi movie directed by “Buffy: the Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon, also opened last week to good critical notices. The flick has what is probably the first Jewish wedding in space — a scene featuring co-star David Krumholtz — complete with glass-stomping.




Columnist Nate Bloom  is the Oakland-based editor of www.jewhoo.com.