Celebrity Jews

Han Solo overcomes

Alden Ehrenreich

Alden Ehrenreich, 26, beat out 2,000 other actors when he was cast as Han Solo in a new stand-alone “Star Wars” movie. The film, out in 2018, will tell something of the character’s early life and backstory. Much of the media attention since Ehrenreich’s recent casting has focused on his early career luck — a funny video he made when he was 14 for a friend’s bat mitzvah caught the eye of Steven Spielberg, 69, who liked the video and helped Ehrenreich get TV parts, eventually introducing him to Francis Ford Coppola. In 2009, Coppola gave Ehrenreich the co-starring role in the noir film “Tetro.” Though the movie did poorly at the box office, Ehrenreich got critical raves. In 2013, he co-starred in “Beautiful Creatures,” a budget flop. But he made a nice career recovery in Joel and Ethan Coen’s 2016 comedy “Hail, Caesar!” He fought for the role and proved that he could be funny.


Beats for Bernie

Allen Ginsberg

I know I’m not the only one amazed that a 74-year-old Jewish socialist from Brooklyn/Vermont could win a slew of Democratic presidential primaries. Another amazing fact about Sen. Bernie Sanders is that he was the subject of poems penned by two of the leading lights of the Beat movement. The Guardian last year reported that while visiting Burlington, Vermont, in 1986, Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) wrote a poem that was clearly about Sanders, then Burlington’s mayor. Here’s a bit of it: “Socialist snow on the streets / Socialist talk in the Maverick Bookstore / Socialist kids sucking socialist lollipops.” The Forward says it looks as if Sanders and Ginsberg met several times.

Then on May 5, one of the last living giants of the Beat era, San Francisco poet and City Lights bookstore founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti, now 97, published another ode to Bernie in the San Francisco Chronicle. The closing lines of “The First and Last of Everything” were amended slightly to read: “The next-to-last lefty looking for Obama Nirvana/The first fine day of Bernie Sanders’ White House Occupation/to set forth upon this continent a new nation!”

So, just when it seemed we were seeing the final fading out of American Jewish socialists and Beat poets, they are back in a big way.

It’s Miller(s) time

Rebecca Miller

It’s a good year for the Millers. Two plays by the late Arthur Miller are up for Tony Awards for best revival. His daughter, director Rebecca Miller, 53, has received good reviews for her romantic comedy “Maggie’s Plan.” It opens with Maggie (Greta Gerwig) telling her friend Felicia (Maya Rudolph, 43) that she plans to get pregnant with the help of a male friend. Around the same time, a college professor she likes (Ethan Hawke) leaves his wife for her. The professor and Maggie marry, but after three years Maggie wants to return the professor to his ex-wife (Julianne Moore) and concocts a plan to do so. The film opens May 27 in San Francisco.


Nate Bloom

Nate Bloom writes the "Celebrity Jews" column for J.