Celebrity Jews

It’s Emmy time

The Emmy Awards for excellence in primetime television will be presented on ABC at 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23. A complete list of confirmed Jewish nominees can be found at Jweekly.com in the following categories: acting, directing, writing, drama series, comedy series and miniseries/movie. Here’s a grab bag of interesting facts about some of the nominees.

Michael Tilson Thomas

Local angle: San Franciscan Philip Kaufman, 75, is nominated for director of a TV movie, “Hemingway & Gellhorn.” The film was shot in the Bay Area. He’s also nominated as co-producer of the film, which is up for an Emmy for TV movie. San Francisco Symphony conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, 67, is nominated for musical direction for the PBS special about his grandparents, Bessie and Boris Thomashefsky, legends of the Yiddish theater. Musical direction is in the “creative arts” Emmy class and the award is not presented in primetime.

While I am still deciding whether I like the new HBO series “Girls,” the Emmy voters have made up their minds. Lena Dunham, 26, the show’s creator and star, scored four nominations in the comedy category: lead actress, writing, directing and producing. She would be the youngest winner ever in the lead actress category.

Lena Dunham

Dunham competes in two of these comedy categories (director, producer) with Steven Levitan, 50, the co-creator of “Modern Family.” Late last month, Ann Romney told a TV reporter that “Modern Family” was her favorite show. This is surprising, because the series features a gay couple. The Romneys oppose gay marriage and were financial backers of California’s anti–gay marriage Proposition 8. Levitan issued a “barbed” tweet on Aug. 29: “Thrilled Ann Romney says ModFam is her favorite show. We’ll offer her the role of officiant at Mitch & Cam’s [gay] wedding. As soon as it’s legal.”

Three other major nominees this year are Jews-by-choice. They are Mare Winningham, 53, supporting actress, miniseries or movie (“Hatfields & McCoys”); Elizabeth Banks, 38, guest actress (“30 Rock”); and Jay Roach, 55, director, miniseries/movie (“Game Change”).

See below for a complete list of Emmy nominees.


‘Wallflower’ notes

Opening in San Francisco on Sept. 28 and in Berkeley on Oct. 5 is “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” a film based on the best-selling 1991 young adult novel by Stephen Chbosky. It follows the maturation of an adolescent named Charlie (also the narrator). Logan Lerman, 20, stars as Charlie. Paul Rudd, 43, plays his teacher. Ezra Miller, 19, co-stars as Patrick, Charlie’s best friend.

Miller has been steadily acting in good indie films since 2009, but most have barely been seen. This includes the award-winning 2011 Brit film “We Need to Talk About Kevin.” Miller played a kid who shoots up his high school. Despite great reviews for the film and Miller, financial problems limited theater distribution. “Wallflower” may be his breakthough role.

Miller landed on my radar when he told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz earlier this year: “My father is Jewish, my mother is not, but I consider myself entirely Jewish even though according to Jewish law I am not. I encourage everyone to understand that the rules were written before anyone could do DNA tests. … I know that I am a descendant of Abraham through my father.” And a visit to Israel? “I definitely plan to do this.”

That’s a smart and determined claim to one’s Jewish identity — especially impressive coming from a 19-year-old.


Emmy nominess

Here are the “confirmed” Jewish nominees in the most prominent Emmy categories. Jews who created and/or are main producers of a “best show” nominee precede the show’s name. Jews are in all caps.

ACTING: Lead actor, comedy series: LARRY DAVID, 65, Curb Your Enthusiasm”; Lead actress, comedy: LENA DUNHAM, 26, “Girls”; Supporting actor, comedy: MAX GREENFIELD, 32, “New Girl”; Supporting actress, comedy: MAYIM BIALIK, 36, “Big Bang Theory”; Lead actress, drama series: JULIANNA MARGULIES, 46, “The Good Wife”; Supporting actress, mini-series/TV movie: MARE WINNINGHAM, 53, “Hatfields & McCoys”; Guest actress, comedy: MAYA RUDOLPH, 40, “Saturday Night Live” and ELIZABETH BANKS, 38, “30 Rock”. Guest actor, drama: MARK MARGOLIS, 72, “Breaking Bad” and BEN FELDMAN, 32, “Mad Men”; Voice-Over animated: HANK AZARIA, 48, “The Simpsons.”

DIRECTING: Comedy series: L. Dunham, “Girls”; JASON WINER, 38, “Modern Family”; STEVE LEVITAN, 50,”Modern Family”; JAKE KASDAN, 37, “New Girl”; and ROBERT B. WEIDE, 53, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”. Mini-Series/Movie: JAY ROACH, 55, “Game Change”; and PHILIP KAUFMAN, 75, “Hemingway & Gellhorn”. WRITING: Comedy series: L. Dunham, “Girls”; Drama series: HOWARD GORDON, 51/GIDEON RAFF, 39, “Homeland”; MATTHEW WEINER, 47/ERIN LEVY, 28, “Mad Men”. Mini-series/Movie: DANNY STRONG, 38, “Game Change”.

Best drama series:
HOWARD KORDER, 54, “Boardwalk Empire”; DAVID BENIOFF, 42, /D.B. WEISS, 41, “Game of Thrones”; M. Weiner, “Mad Men”; H. Gordon/G. Raff, “Homeland”; Best comedy series: CHUCK LORRE, 59, “Big Bang Theory”; L. David, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”; L. Dunham, “Girls”; STEVEN LEVITAN, 50, “Modern Family”; LORNE MICHAELS, 67, “30 Rock”; and FRANK RICH, 63, “Veep”. Best mini-series or movie: BRAD FALCHUK, 41, “American Horror Story” and P. Kaufman/BARBARA TURNER, 76, “Hemingway & Gellhorn”.

Also: “The Daily Show”, starring and co-produced by JON STEWART, 49, is nominated once again for best variety series. It has been nominated every year since 2001 and has won every year since 2003.

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

Nate Bloom

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