Celebrity Jews


Premiering Sunday, Nov. 20, on NBC is a made-for-TV remake of “The Poseidon Adventure,” the 1972 big-screen hit about a cruise ship that capsizes. The NBC version stars Steve Guttenberg, 48, who has had trouble keeping his career afloat since his early hits like “Three Men and a Baby.”

Heroic Jewish “Poseidon” character Belle Rosen, who was originally played by Shelley Winters, shows up again in this version. (Winters, 85, is reportedly recovering from a heart attack she suffered last month.)

Next year another movie version of the tale, simply called “Poseidon,” will hit the theaters starring Richard Dreyfuss and Emmy Rossum (“Phantom of the Opera”).

So long, Ted

On Tuesday, Nov. 22, Ted Koppel, 65, will do his final ABC “Nightline” newscast. His guest will be Jewish writer Mitch Albom (“Tuesdays with Morrie”).

There’s a persistent false story that Koppel, the son of refugees from Germany, converted to Catholicism. In his autobiography, Koppel explains that his wife is Catholic and for a time they attended a Unitarian church as a compromise. Neither found it satisfactory, he says, and he went back to being a synagogue member and she went to Catholic services.

Their children, he wrote, were exposed to both faiths. (His daughter, Andrea Koppel, a CNN reporter, married foreign policy expert Kenneth Pollack in a Jewish ceremony.)

Flora blooms

The movie “The Bee Season” opened last week to bad-to-mixed reviews. However, almost every critic singled out film co-star Flora CrossM for lavish praise. Cross, 12, plays a Jewish girl who feels alienated from her scholarly parents until a spelling bee championship win changes the family’s dynamics.

Cross, who now lives in Argentina, told Roger Ebert: “I was born in Paris. I’ve lived all round. My first language is French. Second is English. I speak Spanish also. My father was a journalist and still is … He has worked in Panama, Israel … he was doing his job in Jerusalem, and it was supposed to be dangerous to be in the Old City with the Arabs. I’m a Jew, but nobody said anything about my Jewish star, which I wore around my neck.”

Cross also told Ebert that her brothers are former child actor Harley Cross, 27, and Berkeley-raised young actor Eli Marienthal, 19 (“American Pie”). Some sources indicate that they are her half-brothers and have another mother.

‘Rent’ due

The big-screen version of the hit musical “Rent,” opens nationally Wednesday, Nov. 23. Like “Bee Season,” it was filmed in the Bay Area.

Jewish composer Jonathan Larson wrote “Rent,” which is a modern update of the opera “La Bohème.” He died of a misdiagnosed heart ailment a day before its 1996 stage premiere. He was only 35. The “Rent” movie soundtrack CD, which is already on the top of the charts, features a previously unheard song by Larson.

The neat thing about what is nowadays a rare event — a movie musical — is that mass audiences can finally see how talented top stage-musical performers are. The cast of “Rent” includes Jewish Tony-winners Idina Menzel and Adam Pascal in the starring roles of Maureen and Roger, respectively. Both created these roles in the original production.

Nate Bloom

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