Nate Bloom's weekly column on Jewish celebrity appears in J. Weekly, formerly the Northern California Jewish Bulletin. Monthly versions appear in the American Israelite (Cincinnati) and in the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix. Select items appear in the Detroit Jewish News and the Cleveland Jewish News.
The current weekly version may be found at: http://www.jewishsf.com (Look for Celebrity News link). Look for archive link for back issues for prior columns.
Nate Bloom is also the editor of www.Jewhoo.com , a Jewish biographical site.
Celebrity News December 26th 2003
It's a Happy New Year For..
MIKE NICHOLS, 72, who directed the just-concluded "Angels in America" on HBO. Nichols' production of TONY KUSHNER's play has received reviews that range from fabulous to really great. "Angels' is clearly one of the crown jewels in Nichols' career. A career that will be honored tonight (9 pm) when CBS broadcasts "The Kennedy Center Honors." Nichols' work will be highlighted by some of his distinguished peers and clips of his films will be shown.
Violinist ITZHAK PERLMAN, 58, is the other Jewish Kennedy Center honoree this year. In the words of the Kennedy Center web site: "Having lost the use of his legs after falling victim to polio at the age of four, Perlman always sits as he plays. But he never fails to bring audiences to their feet. Perlman's tone has been described as aristocratic, but his playing is decidedly populist: from the most jaded music lovers to the youngest initiates whose love of music Perlman loves to encourage, it is all but impossible to remain unmoved by the musician and his music...A master of baroque, classical, romantic and modern music, he also has lavished his intensely joyful string sounds on everything from the brave old world of klezmer to the limitless frontiers of jazz...His heartrending violin solos in the John Williams soundtrack score for STEVEN SPIELBERG's Oscar-winning picture 'Schindler's List' proved to be one of Perlman's own proudest achievements. "
Also honored are Carol Burnett, country singer Loretta Lynn, and James Brown, the "godfather of Soul."
Jewish celebs who will appear on the show as presenters/performers include violinist PINCHAS ZUKERMAN, playwright TONY KUSHNER, and comedian HARVEY KORMAN. Korman, who is best remembered as the co-star of "The Carol Burnett Show," is on hand to honor Ms. Burnett. Carol, by the way, gave a huge boost to BARBRA STREISAND's career when she declined the role of the "very Jewish" FANNY BRICE in the original stage production of "Funny Girl." She told the show's producers, "I'd love to do it, but you should get a Jewish girl." (However, we think the hilarious Ms. Burnett was too modest about her gifts. There is 'something Jewish' about her style, even though she is not.)
IT'S ALSO A HAPPY NEW YEAR FOR...
Playwright TONY KUSHNER, 47. Besides the film triumph of "Angels in America," he must be gratified by the great reviews his new musical, "Caroline or Change," has received since it opened on Broadway early this month. This operatic work is set in Louisiana in the early 1960s and concerns the relationship between a Jewish family and their black maid. (Kushner mostly grew up in Louisiana. His family moved there, from New York, after his father, a Louisiana native, inherited a lumber business). The music is by frequent Kushner collaborator Jeanne Tesori--with lyrics by Kushner. "Caroline" is not a "feel good" story of a Jewish boy and his black maid. Rather, powerful issues of black and Jewish identity in the context of the Deep South are tackled. Actress Tonya Pickens, who plays the maid's adult daughter, says "Kushner has done for the black maid what ARTHUR MILLER did for the salesman."
And It's A Happy New Year For:
Actress MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL, 26, the sister of the more-famous actor JAKE GYLLENHAAL. (The Gyllenhaals are Jewish on their mother's side.) Maggie, long an indy film favorite, just opened in the big-budget "Mona Lisa Smile," starring Julia Roberts as a bohemian art instructor from Berkeley. Maggie plays a "free-spirited" Jewish college student in the conformist world of a New England all-women's college, circa 1953. She was singled-out as the best thing in a film that got mixed reviews.
Maggie Gyllenhaal is about to appear in her own "mini-Kushner festival." She will appear at the Jewish Museum of New York on January 24th in a reading of a new one-act play by Kushner-- "It's an Undoing World, or Why Should It Be Easy When It Can Be Hard?" It features music and, as reported the New York Times, "takes place in the minds of three generations of Jewish women and is written in a Yiddish-inflected style." Maggie starred in the LA production of Kushner's play "Homebody/Kabul," which closed in November. The LA company will move to New York this spring, with Maggie co-starring.
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