Going batty?

Christian Bale, who plays Batman in the box-office bonanza “The Dark Knight,” was arrested July 22 for allegedly assaulting his mother and sister. The actor says this isn’t true. True or not, there’s a sad irony even in the allegation of abuse. You see, Bale’s former stepmother is feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem, 74. She wed the actor’s father in 2000 and became his widow in 2003. Steinem, who was raised in no faith, is the daughter of a Jewish father and a Protestant mother. Defining herself as “a foul-weather Jew,” Steinem says she feels most Jewish, and highlights her Jewish side, when Jews are under attack.

On a more upbeat note, the phenomenal success of the new Batman flick should mean a big marketing push for “The Unborn,” a Jewish-themed horror movie with echoes of “The Exorcist” that will be released in 2009. It stars Gary Oldman, a co-star of “The Dark Knight,” as a modern rabbi who tries to rid a beautiful Jewish woman of an evil spirit. The director and writer of “The Unborn” is David S. Goyer, who also co-wrote “The Dark Knight.”

Shabbat with Obama

Newsweek’s July 21 issue had an article about Sen. Barack Obama’s path to becoming a religious Christian. Discussed is Obama’s friendship with a Jewish member of the Illinois legislature:

“In 1999, while still in the Illinois State Senate, [Obama] shared an office suite with Ira Silverstein, an Orthodox Jew. Obama peppered Silverstein with questions about Orthodox restrictions on daily life: the kosher laws and the sanctions against certain kinds of behavior on the Sabbath. ‘On the Sabbath, if I ever needed anything, Barack would always offer,” remembers Silverstein. ‘Some of the doors are electric, so he would offer to open them … I didn’t expect that.'”

Obama was, at least, an informal “Shabbos goy” (a term for a non-Jew employed by observant Jews to perform prohibited tasks for them on Shabbat). I think I’m on safe ground saying that if Obama wins, he’ll be the first Shabbos goy to be elected president. It’s a far cry from a century or so ago, when we were lucky if a presidential administration had one “house Jew.”

Pot and fashion

“The Pineapple Express” is a straight-up stoner comedy in which the lead characters openly smoke pot. It’s another film out of the Judd Apatow film stable and it stars Apatow regular Seth Rogan, 26, as a Jewish slacker/stoner and James Franco, 30, as Rogen’s Jewish pot dealer and buddy. Franco, whose mother is Jewish, got his start on Apatow’s TV series “Freaks and Geeks.” The Palo Alto native went on to fame as Harry Osborn in the Spider-Man movies.

The story has Rogen and Franco being chased by murderous drug dealers. But the main fun, like with Apatow/Rogen films “Knocked Up” and “Superbad,” comes from sharp comic lines — many of which Rogen, the co-screenwriter of “Pineapple,” crafted for himself. (Opens Wednesday, Aug. 6)

“Project Runway,” one of the few good reality TV shows, began its new season on Bravo on July 16. Hosted by famous designer Michael Kors, 49, it pits aspiring fashion designers in a 13-week competition. Bravo has an extensive rerun schedule and you can easily catch a repeat showing of the first three episodes.

New episodes first air on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. This season, guest judges have included Natalie Portman (second episode) and comedian/actress Sandra Bernhard (third episode). Upcoming judges will be top fashion stylist Rachel Zoe (born Rachel Zoe Rosenzweig) on the Aug. 27 episode and fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg, née Diane Halfin, on Sept. 3.

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

Nate Bloom

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