Celebrity Jews

Time for Tony kvelling

The Tony Awards, recognizing excellence in Broadway theater, are being presented (on tape delay) at 8 p.m. Sunday, June 10 on CBS. The large number of Jewish nominees prevents me from giving much bio detail. Check TonyAwards.com and other sources for more info.

Here are the Jewish nominees and “related people” in all but the technical categories: Best play: “Other Desert Cities” by Jon Robin Baitz, 50, and “Peter and the Starcatcher” by Rick Elice, 55. Best musical: “Leap of Faith” by Alan Menken, 62 (music), and Glenn Slater, 44 (lyrics); “Newsies” by Menken (music) and Jack Feldman (lyrics); and “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” which weaves a new plot around classic songs by the late Ira and George Gershwin.

Linda Lavin

Best revival of a play: “Death of a Salesman” by the late Arthur Miller. Best revival of a musical: “Follies” by Stephen Sondheim, 82 (words/music); and “Porgy and Bess” by the Gershwin brothers. Best original score written for the theater: “Bonnie & Clyde” by Frank Wildhorn, 55 (music), and Don Black, 74 (lyrics); “Newsies” (see above); and “Peter and the Starcatcher,” lyrics by Elice. Best book of a musical: “Newsies” by Harvey Fierstein, 59.

Best leading actress in a play: Linda Lavin, 74, “The Lyons,” a play about a Jewish family (penned by Nicky Silver, 52). Best featured actress in a play: Judith Light, 63, “Other Desert Cities.” Best leading actor in a musical: Danny Burstein, 47, “Follies.” Best featured actor in a play: Andrew Garfield, 28, “Death of a Salesman,” and Jeremy Shamos, 42, “Clybourne Park.” Best featured actress in a musical: Judy Kaye, 63, “Nice Work If You Can Get It.” Best featured actor in a musical: Josh Young, 31, “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

A few notes of interest: Black, a British landsman, has been penning hit lyrics since the ’60s; his tunes include the Oscar-winning “Born Free.” Garfield is also a Brit (with an American mother) who next month stars in the “reboot” of the “Spider-Man” movie franchise. Last year, Playbill asked Slater about his religious background because he wrote the lyrics for “Sister Act,” the mega-hit musical about nuns. He replied: “I’m Jewish. This is a show about nuns in which two of the book writers — and the composer [Menken] and the lyricist and the director — were all Jewish. [Laughs.] So we bring a slightly skewed point of view.” Phillip Seymour Hoffman is very likely to win the Tony for best actor (Willy Loman in “Salesman”). On May 18, the New York Times ran an in-depth article “Is Willy Loman Jewish?” that addressed this longstanding question.


A trio of proud mothers

Andy Samberg

Last month, former Berkeleyite Andy Samberg, 33, was a hit as Harvard’s commencement speaker, offering hilarious tongue-in-cheek advice. It remains to be seen if his new film, “That’s My Boy,” will add to his laurels and end the “cold streak” of the film’s co-star, Adam Sandler, 45. (It opens Friday, June 15.) Sandler plays Donald Berger, who fathered a son he named Han Solo Berger (Samberg), when he was a teen. Berger raises Han, alone, until Han’s 18th birthday. Then Han, who renames himself Todd Peterson, goes off and Berger loses touch with him. A big tax bill motivates Berger to find “Todd” and try to hit him up for a loan.

The Berkeley Unified School District has been the beneficiary of Samberg’s real-life largesse. In January, he and his Berkeley-raised buddies in the comedy group Lonely Island (Akiva Schaefer, 34, and Jorma Taccone) put together a complicated “swap” deal that saw Doritos donate $250,000 to the district. Out of his own pocket, Samberg donated $15,000 to Berkeley’s John Muir Elementary School and, last month, Lonely Island donated $10,000 of the $15,000 needed for wiring a scoreboard at Berkeley High’s new Derby Field. The Daily Cal reports that the mothers of all three guys will be on hand for the field’s groundbreaking ceremony.

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

Nate Bloom

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