Celebrity Jews

Grammy time


The Grammy Awards for musical excellence will be presented (tape delayed) on CBS on Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. More than 100 Grammys are awarded, but only about 20 of them — covering the biggest-selling musical genres — are presented on TV. Three Jews are up for TV-worthy Grammys.  Drake, 26, the rapper who released a bar mitzvah music video last year, is nominated for best rap performance and best rap album (“Take Care”). Dan Auerbach, 33, the songwriter, guitarist and lead vocalist for the rock group The Black Keys, which will perform on-stage Grammys night, is nominated for five awards, including best rock performance, best rock song (“Lonely Boy”), and record of the year. Jack Antonoff, 28, is a guitarist and songwriter for the band Fun, which will also perform at the Grammys. The three-member indie rock group is nominated for six Grammys, including best new group, song of the year (“We are the Young”), and record of the year. Antonoff, a Jewish Day School grad, has been dating Lena Dunham, of “Girls” fame for about six months.



Hollywood’s ‘go-to’ guy

The original Lifetime cable movie “Twist of Faith” stars David Julian Hirsh, 39, as a bereaved Orthodox cantor from Brooklyn who is befriended by Toni Braxton, 44, a beautiful African American single mom who is the lead singer of her church gospel choir in Alabama. The movie premieres on Saturday, Feb. 9. at 8 p.m. Hirsh may now be “go-to” guy for Jewish religious parts in Hollywood, after his season-long run as a rabbi on the Showtime series “Weeds.”


Mini-series: new and old

Ed Asner

Starting on Wednesday, Feb. 6 at 9 p.m. is the four-part BBC America series “Spies of Warsaw.” Based on the novel of the same name by acclaimed historical spy fiction writer Alan Furst, 71, the series follows Col. Jean-Francois Mercier (David Tennant), a World War I hero, in the years leading up to WWII. Mercier’s bohemian sister has a Jewish jazz pianist boyfriend and Mercier takes under his protection two Soviet Jews who have defected (one is played by English actor Allan Corduner, 62).


The PBS series “Pioneers of Television” concludes its third season on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 8 p.m. with an episode about groundbreaking TV mini-series. Interviewees include Ed Asner, 83, who played a morally conflicted slave ship captain in the 1977 blockbuster, “Roots,” and Peter Strauss, 65, who co-starred in the popular “Rich Man, Poor Man” series in the 1970s. He also co-starred as the Jewish commander at the Masada fortress who battled the Romans, in the 1981 mini-series “Masada.”


Sometimes funny gangsters

Opening on Friday, Feb. 1 is the film “Stand-Up Guys,” a comedy-drama directed by Fisher Stevens, 49. Al Pacino plays Val, a “stand-up guy” who spent 28 years in prison without “ratting out” his partners in crime, including the boss (played by Mark Margolis, 73). The crime boss isn’t grateful, and plans to have Val killed shortly after his release. Val is met at the prison gate by his buddy, Doc (Christopher Walken) and they begin carousing. Too much Viagra lands Val in the hospital. His nurse (Julianne Margulies, 46) turns out to be the daughter of Doc and Val’s old getaway driver, Hirsch (Alan Arkin, 78).  The daughter tells them that Hirsch is in a nursing home. They quickly get him out of the nursing home and back behind a steering wheel. However, things get sticky when Val begins to sense that Doc has taken the boss’s contract to kill him.


Now he can speak freely

Frank Langella, 75, is a highly respected actor best known for his stage work. I recently came across his 2012 memoir, “Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women as I Knew Them.” About 60 quite famous people are subjects of short profiles. All are deceased, so Langella can be completely candid. Famous Jewish subjects include Marilyn Monroe, Lee Strasberg, Dinah Shore, Elizabeth Taylor, Arthur Miller and Paul Newman. About Newman, Langella writes: “He was a deeply feeling, decent man …[but he was] a pretty dull companion. Never rude or unkind, just dull … But he was so beautiful, people thought it must be their fault if he went silent or just emptily gazed at them.”

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

Nate Bloom

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