Celebrity Jews

‘I try to live a moral life’

So said the two “Spider-Man” films director Sam Raimi to the Los Angeles Times in June. “I was raised a Conservative Jew in Detroit and I still practice Judaism with my family,” he said. “[‘Spider-Man 2’ is] a story of a hero, and I see all these kids are coming to this picture … And I want to make sure that the movie has a positive portrayal — a good role model of somebody who is good of heart and is faced with conflict and perhaps makes the hard choices, but the right choices, to be this hero.”

Raimi’s morality is combined with an old-fashioned patriotism, influenced by family history: “I just love this country. … My kids aren’t being persecuted for their religion. All rights are protected; no one comes and slaughters you for anything you think or believe.” He told the Times about his father’s tragic inability to get most relatives out of Poland. “I don’t want to see that place [in Poland] … nobody’s alive. They’re all gone.”

“Spider-Man 2” opened June 30 to huge box office and good reviews. For Sam Raimi, it’s a family affair with his actor brother Ted appearing as Hoffman. Meanwhile, brother Ivan, a Michigan physician, helped with the script.

Berkeley novelist Michael Chabon also provided script help in the form of a funny pizza delivery scene. He told Newsweek: “For years people have speculated that Peter [Spider-Man] was sort of crypto-Jewish … You know, living with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May in Queens.”

Besides Ted Raimi, look for Jewish actress Elizabeth Banks playing Miss Brant and Jewish actor James Franco playing Harry Osborn.

And on the soundtrack CD

You’ll hear the song “Woman,” by the hot band Maroon 5, led by the movie star-handsome Adam Levine, 25. Maroon’s current CD, “Songs for Jane,” has gone platinum, propelled by Levine’s evocative songwriting. The L.A. band is touring this summer with superstar John Mayer. (They’ll play the Shoreline in Mountain View on July 16.) Levine’s life and home will be profiled later this month on the MTV series, “Cribs.”

Tantric Barbra

Barbra Streisand is currently filming “Meet the Fockers,” the sequel to the huge hit, “Meet the Parents.” She plays Ben Stiller’s Jewish mother, while Dustin Hoffman plays his Jewish father. A reliable source tells us that the script currently includes a scene in which the New Agey Streisand is teaching tantric (sexual) yoga techniques to a group of — clothed — senior citizens. As the class is leaving, she tells one old guy to “practice at home.” He then calls her a “Semitic temptress.” Barbra responds, “Keep it in your Depends.”

Briefly noted

An animated pilot version of “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, ” has been made without star Sarah Michelle Gellar. Most of the original cast did lend their voices, including Alyson Hannigan, who plays the Jewish character Willow Rosenberg. Hannigan, who is best known as Jason Biggs’ girlfriend/wife in the “American Pie” movies, is Jewish on her mother’s side … Barry Levinson has gotten the green light to make “My Italian Story,” about an Italian Jewish boy who searches WWII-era Italy for a rabbi who will help him have a bar mitzvah … Filming just started on “Lucky,” a family comedy about a 13-year-old boy — played by Daryl Sabara (“Spy Kids” series) — who uses his upcoming bar mitzvah to reconcile his father (Jeremy Piven) and grandfather (Garry Marshall). Jami Gertz will play the mother and Doris Roberts the grandmother. Richard Benjamin and Larry Miller also appear.

Oaklander Nate Bloom can be reached at [email protected].

Nate Bloom

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