Celebrity Jews in the news

The Sunshine Boys

The legendary folk-rock duo PAUL SIMON and ART GARFUNKEL have announced they will reunite for a “final reunion tour,” with two Bay Area dates: Wednesday, Nov. 5 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose and the following night at the Oakland Arena. They say that they will perform mostly Simon and Garfunkel material, with a few songs from their solo efforts that fit in. They have dubbed it “The Old Friends” tour after a song from their album “Bookends.”

Paul and Artie are so close they are almost like siblings who quarrel and patch things up eventually. Both are from middle-class Jewish backgrounds; both had grandparents who were immigrants (Paul’s from Hungary; Artie’s from Romania). They are the same age (62), and they have known and played with each other since junior high in Queens.

They broke up in 1972 because Paul wanted to move in musical directions that Artie disliked. They had a deal that they would have equal say in their recording efforts. Paul, who wrote the songs, ended the partnership rather than be subject to Artie’s veto power over their joint projects.

They have reunited before. However, one or the other always seemed to say something about their relationship that ticked the other off, and they would not talk for a long time. However, Paul explained at their tour news conference that their joint appearance at the 2003 Grammys broke the ice and they buried the hatchet. Artie said, “It’s family, the two of us. Our moms know each other. They’re still alive. There has been a deep, buried affection for the last decade or so and it was the Grammys that forced it out of burial.”

Both Artie and Paul, by the way, “played” the celebrity seders that PAUL SHAFFER held for the “Saturday Night Live” cast and guests. As far as I can tell, the seders were an annual event between 1976 and 1980. Artie reportedly sang the Four Questions at one. EDDIE FISHER was prevailed upon to sing “My Yiddishe Momma” at the one that Paul attended.

Lucky You’re Here

Opening today is “The Human Stain,” based onPHILIP ROTH’s novel about a light-skinned black man who pretends to be white and Jewish. It has an all-star cast, including Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman. I wonder if Roth’s novel was somewhat inspired by his experiences of living in Britain, as covered in a recent issue of the Independent, a British paper.

Roth lived in Britain for a number of years when he was married to CLAIRE BLOOM, the famous Jewish British actress. The profile says: “Although Roth was initially charmed by England he soon came to hate what he took to be its stifling manners. (‘Did you ever notice,’ he would ask, ‘how many times people say thank you when they are in a shop?’) On his return to New York, he was exhilarated by the passionate way people would argue and gesticulate … For all Roth’s biting commentary on American life and the shortcomings of Jewish life in the States and in Israel, he particularly disliked the left-wing pieties he found among British writers, with their reflexive and unknowing anti-Americanism, and their comprehensive dismissal of Israel. Like so many expatriates, he found that his own way of criticizing his country contained a fondness for it that was essential to him.”

Roth added, in effect, that Claire Bloom was seen as English by the English, despite being Jewish, because she is such a big star. That is not the case with most English Jews. Many have stated that despite the historic lack of violent anti-Semitism in England, they are still often seen as “something other” and are generally expected to be circumspect about their Jewish identity. In other words, “you can pass,” but the relatively swaggering celebration of Jewishness found in America is not found in England. Roth added that in America he can be “easily” Jewish, because in a country of immigrants everybody has a comfortable dual identity.

Gershon Hits Town

Actress/singer GINA GERSHON heads to the screens next month in afilm based on Cheri Lovedog’s autobiographical rock musical, “Prey for Rock and Roll.” The film follows the ups and downs of a female band struggling to survive in the image-driven world of rock. The flick got good reviews at Sundance, and Gershon will do a brief club tour to support the movie, backed by the oddly named all-male band Girls-Against Boys. She appears this Sunday at the Great American Musical Hall in San Francisco.

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

Nate Bloom

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