Celebrity Jews

It’s hip to be Jewish

VH1 will present “Jewtastic” on Monday, Dec. 19 at 9 p.m. The special is an exploration of “hip” Jews. That sounds pretty superficial — but, heck, with 2 percent of the population, we Hebrews can only be glad for a bit of holiday TV coverage and a few good moments.

The show’s hosts are rock musicians Scott Ian (of “Anthrax”) and Evan Seinfeld (of “Biohazard”). Other “Jewtastic” musical figures include folk-rocker Ben Lee and hot Chassidic reggae star Matisyahu — the coolest thing in the special.

Jackie Mason will give a Yiddish primer, while comic actor Elon Gold will visit a famous Jewish showbiz deli to ask why Jews are so funny.

In what promises to be the worst moment, a Jewish grandmother will be taught to rap. A few athletic stars will be touched on, and other Jewish celebs including the funny Joel Stein of Time magazine and hot babe Brooke Burke (whose mother is Jewish), will spiel about how hip it is to be Jewish.

All in the family

Opening Friday, Dec.16 is “The Family Stone,” about a bohemian family’s Christmas reunion. While promoted as a comedy, early reviews describe the flick as a strong drama with some humor.

Sarah Jessica Parker has top billing as the uptight girlfriend of family member Dermot Mulroney.

In a recent interview, Parker corrected some long-standing misinformation about her Jewish background found in many bios. Parker says that her father (now deceased), not her mother, was Jewish — although her mother may have some Jewish ancestry.

The actress says she always felt Jewish, despite having almost no religious background. Likewise, she says her husband, Matthew Broderick, considers himself a “cultural Jew” although he was not raised in his mother’s Jewish faith or any faith.

The couple hasn’t yet decided whether to raise their child in any faith. Parker did add that her only full sibling, a sister, formally converted to Judaism and is now Modern Orthodox. She said she turns to this sister for advice on “Jewish things.”

Other premieres

Just opened in still-limited release is “Memoirs of a Geisha,” based on Arthur Golden’s huge-selling novel about the life of a poor Japanese girl who eventually became a top geisha in the early postwar period. Golden’s mother is the sister of Arthur O. Sulzberger, Sr., who retired as publisher of the New York Times in 1992. Some scenes in the movie were filmed in San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden.

Director Peter Jackson (“Lord of the Rings”) brings us the second remake of “King Kong.” Opening this week, “Kong” stars Oscar-winner Adrien Brody, Jack Black and Naomi Watts.

Opening soon is the film version of Mel Brooks‘ stage musical hit, “The Producers.” Nathan Lane and Broderick re-create their respective stage roles as a swindling stage producer and a nebbish accountant.

Everybody has seen some version of “The Producers,” but here’s a little related trivia you probably don’t know:

Uma Thurman plays Ula, the sexy Swedish secretary in a role greatly expanded from the original film. In real life, Thurman’s maternal grandmother was a famous Swedish beauty who married a German baron. She met him in Berlin just after the Nazis released him from jail. He was briefly held for not denouncing his Jewish business partners.

Broderick’s character, Leo Bloom, gets his name from the Irish-Jewish lead character in James Joyce’s “Ulysses.”

The gay stage director character pronounces his last name DeBreeze, but it’s spelled “DeBris.”

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

Nate Bloom

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