Celebrity Jews

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

On the Oscars

It doesn’t look like this will be a banner year for Jewish Oscar nominees.

However, we have the Oscar-hosting of Jon Stewart to look forward to. When given the hosting job, Stewart said: “As a performer, I’m truly honored to be hosting. Although, as an avid watcher of the Oscars, I can’t help but be a little disappointed with the choice. It appears to be another sad attempt to smoke out Billy Crystal.

Recently, on his “Daily Show” program, Stewart did a Jerry Seinfeld impression and quipped: “If I can’t do a reasonable impression of another Jewish comedian, I’m really out of my element.”

Narnia backstory

The children’s fantasy adventure “The Chronicles of Narnia,” from C.S. Lewis’ famous novels, has an odd Jewish connection.

The film almost didn’t get made because Lewis’ heirs, Douglas Gresham (a paid producer on “Narnia”), and his brother, David Gresham, aren’t on speaking terms. You see, Douglas is a very fervent evangelical, while David is an Orthodox Jew. The film’s “dealmaker” worked overtime as a go-between, and the brothers finally signed off on the film rights.

The brothers’ mother, Joy Gresham (1915-60), was born Jewish but switched from being a communist to a Christian in the ’40s (she seemed to like belief systems with “all the answers”). Joy moved to England with her sons in the ’50s and married Lewis. He adopted Douglas and David and left them his estate when he died.

Lewis and Joy Gresham raised the boys as Christians. David, however, “rebelled” and became an Orthodox Jew while still a teen in Lewis’ house. (Lewis, to his credit, had his kitchen kashered for David and brought in kosher food.) David subsequently learned Yiddish, and became a Chassid and a Talmudic scholar. While he’s still Orthodox, he is no longer a Chassid.

NHL roundup

All-star Detroit defenseman and “practicing Jew” Mathieu Schneider, 36, has been named to the 2006 U.S. Olympic hockey team.

Also now playing in the NHL are Washington center Jeff Halpern, 29, and Los Angeles center Mike Cammalleri, 23 (his mother is Jewish). Halpern, who sat out a game this year to observe Yom Kippur, was named team captain early this season.

Eric Nystrom, 22, started the season as a forward with Calgary, but is now back in the minors. His father is retired New York Islander great Bobby Nystrom, who is a convert to Judaism. (Thanks to Jewish Sports Review newsletter for its help.)

Celebrity update

Previously, I reported that Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy were co-writing “For Your Consideration,” a movie about making a movie. Overall, “Consideration” is about what happens when rumors fly that one of the actors in the movie-within-the movie is going to get an Oscar for his performance.

In a recent interview with Variety, Guest gave some new details. He said his “Consideration” character will be a director who has made 18 unaired sitcom pilots and that Levy will play his agent.

The “movie-within-the-movie,” Guest added, has the improbable title of “Home For Purim.” He told Variety: “‘Home for Purim’ is an extraordinarily poorly written movie. It’s a melodrama, and it’s just awful. These actors never would have imagined that this movie was going to change their lives.” (I can’t wait to see both movies.)

Nate Bloom

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