Portman pregnant — on film and for real
On Dec. 27, “everybody’s” favorite Jewish actress, Natalie Portman, set tongues wagging — and computers clicking — with the news that she was pregnant and that she was engaged to the baby’s father, French ballet dancer Benjamin Millipied, 32. All over the Net, the question was asked: “Is he Jewish?” Well, as I write this, I don’t know for sure — but I don’t think so.
Trust me, in time we will know. Meanwhile, it is much more likely than not that Portman is following the feelings she expressed in an interview with an Israeli website in 2004: “A priority for me is definitely that I’d like to raise my kids Jewish, but the ultimate thing is to have someone who is a good person and who is a partner.”
Life imitates art a bit in that Portman, 29, is pregnant in her new film, “The Other Woman.” This modest budget indie played 2009 film festivals. It will open in a very limited number of theaters in early February. On Jan. 1 it became available for on-demand viewing. The film is based on the 2006 novel “Love and Other Impossible Pursuits” by Berkeley novelist-essayist Ayelet Waldman, 46, the wife of novelist Michael Chabon, 47.
“The Other Woman” centers on the love-hate relationship between Emelia (Portman), and her stepson, William. Their backstory is largely told in flashbacks — William’s Jewish father, Jack (Scott Cohen, 45), is an attorney who was married to William’s mother, an icy Episcopalian physician (Lisa Kudrow, 47). Emelia, a young Jewish lawyer in Jack’s office, finds him attractive and they have an affair that ends Jack’s marriage. Jack marries Emelia and she soon becomes pregnant. Tragically, their baby dies within days of its birth, and Emelia struggles to keep herself together.
The Showtime series “Shameless” starts Sunday, Jan. 9 at 10 p.m. Based on a British TV series, it stars William H. Macy as the alcoholic single father of six children. The oldest child, Fiona (Emmy Rossum, 24), holds things together with the help of whatever pocket money her siblings can pitch in. I watched a sneak peek of the first episode and it was very strong. Rossum (“Phantom of the Opera,” “The Day After Tomorrow”) was a lot more grown up and forceful in this role than I’ve ever seen her. (Warning: There are explicit sex scenes in some episodes.)
Rossum was very guarded about her private life for a long time — so much so that the first time anyone heard that she was married was when her agent announced, in October 2009, that Rossum had just filed for divorce from her husband of 18 months, music executive Jason Siegel (whom I presume is Jewish). Not long after, Rossum switched gears and talked candidly about her new romance with Adam Duritz, 46, the lead singer of Counting Crows. Duritz has dated several very famous women, including Jennifer Aniston. Rossum explained his appeal: “He’s extremely kind, incredibly intelligent, thoughtful, creative and respectful.” The couple stopped dating last September, but Rossum says they’re “still close.”
Rossum, who has an operatic singing voice, was raised by her mother, a professional photographer who grew up in a Scarsdale, N.Y., Jewish family. Emmy’s parents split up when her mother was pregnant with her. She told People magazine in 2007 that she’s only seen her father (who may not be Jewish) a couple of times.