Vicarious thrills, Our Idiot Jews, Howard Stern vs. Andy Dick

Vicarious thrills

If you have seen “Taken,” the 2008 thriller about a retired CIA-type agent (Liam Neesom) desperately trying to recover his kidnapped teenage daughter, you have a good idea about what to expect from “Colombiana,” opening on Friday, Aug. 26. The director of “Taken” (Luc Besson) and its screenwriter (Robert Mark Kamen, 63), have teamed again for this film. (Kamen, who founded and owns a Sonoma winery, is still probably most famous for penning the original “The Karate Kid.”)

Michael Vartan

“Taken” had a lot of improbable parts. Still, it was a huge “guilty pleasure” hit because the action never stopped, many scenes were exciting and it didn’t give you a chance to ponder the improbable. “Colombiana” promises to be very similar.

“Colombiana” begins with a young girl, Cataleya, witnessing the murder of her parents in Colombia. She is then smuggled into the United States. As an adult, Cataleya (Zoe Saldana) is working as a “hit man” for her uncle, while she also hunts down her parents’ killers. The FBI is on her trail and her boyfriend (Michael Vartan, 42) only gradually learns whom he is dating.

Vartan is a nice-looking guy who co-starred on TV’s “Alias” and now is the co-star of the TNT series “Hawthorne.” His mother is an American Jew of Polish origin, and Vartan identifies as Jewish. He may also have a Hungarian Jewish paternal grandmother. The rest of his father’s ancestry is Armenian and Bulgarian.


‘Our Idiot’ Jews

“Our Idiot Brother,” which opens on Friday, Aug. 26, stars Paul Rudd, 42, as an idealistic organic farmer who has just been released from jail for selling pot. In succession, each of his three sisters (played by Elizabeth Banks, 37; Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer) takes him into their homes — and he manages to upend their lives in interesting and unexpected ways. Rashida Jones, 35, has a big part as the girlfriend of the sister played by Mortimer.

The film is directed by Jesse Peretz, 43, and was co-written by him and his sister, Evegenia Peretz. They are the children of Martin Peretz, 72, the former publisher of the New Republic and a famously strong defender of Israel. Jesse began his career as a moderately successful rock musician and moved on to directing music videos. “Brother” is his first feature film.

By the way, Banks and her husband, sportswriter Max Handelman, welcomed their first child, a boy, in March. The couple started dating in 1992, wed in 2003, and before the wedding, Banks converted to Judaism. Banks also has “stuck by” Paul Rudd — this is the fifth movie they have made together. The first was “Wet Hot American Summer” (2001), and the biggest hit to date was “40-Year-Old-Virgin” (2005).


Howard Stern vs. Andy Dick


By now, you’ve probably read about comedian-actor Andy Dick’s anti-Semitic remarks about radio host Howard Stern. Appearing on Sirius Satellite Radio’s “Greg

Howard Stern

Fitzsimmons Show” on Aug. 15, Dick kept on calling Stern “a money-grubbing, hook-nosed Jew.” (Dick is an alcoholic and drug addict who is facing trial next year for sexually abusing people in a bar.)

You can read summaries of what Dick said and part of Stern’s response in many articles that can be found online. However, I urge you to listen to Stern’s complete on-air (Sirius Radio) response to Dick.

Ignore Stern’s use of some profanity and concentrate on his articulate explanation of how many people, whose lives and/or careers have reached rock-bottom (like Dick), turn to anti-Semitism to justify their failure. As I write this, the complete audio can be found on Just search with Stern’s name after you log on and you’ll find it.

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

Nate Bloom

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