Celebrity Jews

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Spotlight on Sara

The beautiful blonde actress Sara Paxton, 18, has become a young people’s favorite. She starred in the kids’ cable series “Darcy’s Wild Ride,” which ran from 2004-06, and she’s made a few films, including “Aquamarine,” a 2006 surprise hit that was also aimed at a young audience. Paxton’s performance as a lovely young mermaid in “Aquamarine” made the critics clap like seals.

Paxton shows off her dramatic acting ability in the Lifetime TV original movie “The Party Never Stops” (airs 9 p.m. Saturday, April 7). She plays a college freshman with a drinking problem — which, Paxton says, was not an easy role for her because she’s never abused drugs or alcohol. She told a reporter, “Maybe [it would have been easier] if I was in that teen Hollywood party scene — but I’m not part of that whatsoever.”

She is interviewed in the current issue of JVibe, a magazine for Jewish teens. The California-raised actress told JVibe that her mother (who was born in Mexico) is Jewish and that her father converted to Judaism shortly before he wed her mother.

Judaism, Paxton explained to JVibe, means a lot to her: “It is family … It is memories — we now laugh about — of a Passover seder when I was very little and got yelled at for flinging the parsley … It helps people believe that there is something greater than their lives, it helps us not be so self-centered.”

The hoax

In 1972, Clifford Irving became the center of a famous scandal when he falsely claimed that he’d helped Howard Hughes, the reclusive billionaire and aviation pioneer, write Hughes’ autobiography. Irving’s partners-in-crime included his wife and his beautiful mistress.

Hughes exposed the hoax when he spoke to reporters for the first time since 1958 and denounced the “autobiography” as a fraud. Irving spent 17 months in jail and had to repay about $850,000 he had received from his publisher.

Irving, now 76, was a respected (if not rich) writer before the hoax. His books included a history of the 1967 Six-Day War. Although not a practicing Jew, Irving got to Israel as fast as he could after the outbreak of the war. He intended to volunteer to fight, but the war ended just before he landed in Israel.

Opening Friday, April 6, is the film “The Hoax,” starring Richard Gere as Irving and Eli Wallach as Noah Dietrich, Hughes’ chief aide. It is directed by well-known Danish director Lasse Hallström (“Chocolat”).

On his Web site, www.cliffordirving.com, Irving writes that the movie gets so many details wrong that it is a “hoax within a hoax.” It’s an interesting site — befitting an entertaining rogue.

Jackie gets zinged

Comedian Jackie Mason and his writing partner, divorce lawyer Raoul Felder, have penned a new book impolitely titled, “Schmucks: Our Favorite Fakes, Frauds, Lowlifes, and Liars.” Among their targets is CBS news anchor Katie Couric, whom they claim doesn’t have the “gravitas” to deliver hard news, is too “perky” and wears too much makeup.

The New York Post reached Couric’s spokesman for a comment about Jackie’s put-down of Couric. He came back with a line so sharp that you have to figure: (1) He is Jewish and (2) Even Jackie had to laugh.

Matthew Hiltzig, Couric’s spokesman, deftly avoided being dragged into defending Couric point by point. He simply said — referring to Mason and Felder — “Gee, are those two shmendricks [jerks] still alive?”

By the way, Raoul Felder’s late brother, Jerome Felder, better known as Doc Pomus, is the subject of a new, highly praised biography entitled “Lonely Avenue.” Pomus wrote a number of famous rock tunes, including “Teenager in Love,” “Little Sister,” “This Magic Moment” and “Save the Last Dance for Me.”

Nate Bloom

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