Jews (and Mel) on the big screen
“The Tooth Fairy” (opens Friday, Jan. 22) is a fantasy/comedy starring Dwayne Johnson (known as “The Rock” when he was a pro wrestler) as Derek Thompson, a tough minor league hockey player. When Derek tells a little girl that there is no tooth fairy, a “real” tooth fairy, played by Julie Andrews, magically “sentences” Derek to work a week as a tooth fairy, complete with wings and tutu. Billy Crystal has a cameo role and the director is Michael Lembeck, 62, the son of the late comedic actor Harvey Lembeck (best known for playing Phil Silvers’ corporal in “Sgt. Bilko”).
Harrison Ford, 67, co-stars in “Extraordinary Measures” (opens Jan. 22) as Dr. Robert Stonehill, an unconventional biologist. When John Crowley’s (Brendan Fraser) children are diagnosed with a fatal disease, he and his wife (Keri Russell) enlist Stonehill’s help to develop a life-saving drug. (Russell has been described by her friend, director J.J. Abrams, as “part Jewish,” but what that means has never been made clear in any other source.)
Opening Jan. 29 is “Edge of Darkness,” a police thriller starring Mel Gibson in his first film role since his infamous anti-Semitic tirade in 2006. But I’d go to this flick if the voice-over for the film’s trailer went like this: “Yes, it’s Mel Gibson as you like him — playing a tough minded cop. Gibson’s sorry for his alcohol-fueled rant at a real-life Los Angeles County Jewish cop — and Gibson, a devoutly religious family man, is now starting a new family with the girlfriend he got pregnant while he was still married to the mother of his seven other kids.”
I hope that the film “The Loss of the Teardrop Diamond” is still in some area theaters when you read this. Via “Jewish geography” I just learned that the director, Jodie Markell, 50, comes from a religious Jewish home in Memphis, Tenn. That’s fitting, since the film is set in Memphis and is based on a recently rediscovered screenplay by Tennessee Williams. Set in the 1920s, the plot centers on the romance of a rich young woman (Bryce Dallas Howard) and her much poorer suitor. Suspicion falls on the young man when an expensive earring goes missing. Howard, 28, is the daughter of director Ron Howard. Her godfather is actor Henry Winkler, her father’s good friend. Bryce is married to Jewish actor Seth Gabel, 28.
Winter sports roundup
Here’s this season’s National Hockey League, Jewish player round-up, prepared with the help of Jewish Sports Review newsletter: Mike Brown, 24, right wing, Anaheim Ducks; Michael Cammalleri, 27, forward, Montreal Canadiens (last year, with the Calgary Flames, “Cam” really came into his own as a star player and scored 39 goals, the highest total ever by a Jewish NHL player); Jeff Halpern, 33, center, Tampa Bay Lightning; Eric Nystrom, 26, defenseman, Calgary; Mathieu Schneider, 40, defenseman, Vancouver Canucks. (Halpern, Brown and Schneider have two Jewish parents. Nystrom, who had a bar mitzvah, and Cammalleri, who was raised secular, are the sons of Jewish mothers and non-Jewish fathers.)
Last summer, the NBA’s Sacramento Kings signed Israeli basketball star Omri Casspi, 21. He’s turned out to be an exceptional player who quickly made the starting lineup and is one of the NBA’s top rookies. The other Jewish NBA player is Jordan Farmar, 23, the backup point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, last year’s league champion. Farmar, who was raised Jewish, is the son of a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father.
Farmar has visited Israel and his stepfather is Israeli. So, if they wanted to, Farmar, Casspi and their respective mishpochahs could have a fun time sharing Israel-related stories.