Celebrity jews

At the movies

Michael Mann, 71, directs and writes taut and visually exciting thrillers (“Miami Vice,” “Heat”), so his latest film, “Blackhat,” will likely be one of the better international crime movies. It follows a furloughed convict (Chris Hemsworth) as he and his Chinese partners hunt a high-level cybercrime network across America and into China and Indonesia. It opens Friday, Jan. 16.

Jeremy Garelick

Much lighter is “The Wedding Ringer,” a romantic comedy starring Josh Gad, 33, as Doug, a loveable but socially awkward guy. As the film opens, Doug is two weeks away from marrying his “dream girl” (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting of “The Big Bang Theory”) and he has no best man. He is referred to Jimmy (Kevin Hart), who runs a service that provides flattering best men. Jimmy takes on the job himself, and the two guys really bond. It also opens Jan. 16.

While the “Ringer” plot sounds like a lot of recent romantic comedies, it was actually co-written 13 years ago by the film’s director, Jeremy Garelick, 39. In 2006, he and his writing partner, Jay Lavender, had a hit with the unusually realistic comedy-drama “The Break-Up,” starring Jennifer Aniston.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Back then Garelick was profiled by a Jewish website (www.tinyurl.com/ajlmagazine-garelick). He revealed that he had recently become very observant and was about to marry a “nice Jewish girl” (I checked, he is still married to her). Most amusing was his recollection of being a high school football player and his mother appearing at all his games with a sign that read: “Be careful, tatele.”

However, since 2006 Garelick has been listed as the director or writer of a number of films that, in the way of Hollywood, never got made. He just told Variety (which named him a “director to watch”) that the production company Screen Gems asked him to direct “Ringer” right after another film of his got canceled. “I was so happy,” he said, when “Ringer” actually started filming.

Opening on Jan. 23 is the mystery-thriller “Mortdecai,” based on the first of a trilogy of acclaimed 1970s novels by the late Kyril Bonfiglioli. Charles Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) is a debonair English art dealer of Dutch Jewish ancestry. He is also a bit of a rogue. Johanna, his “randy” wife, is played by Gwyneth Paltrow, 42. Mortdecai must travel the globe in a race to recover a stolen painting rumored to contain the code to a lost bank account filled with Nazi gold. Armed only with good looks and charm, he has to fend off angry Russians, a terrorist and the British MI5. Co-stars include Ewan McGregor and Jeff Goldblum, 62.


Local connection

A J. reader from the Bay Area was kind enough to inform me that his Jewish daughter-in-law Jennie Urman is the executive producer and a major creative force behind “Jane the Virgin,” a CW show that got several Golden Globe nominations and one win, for best actress in a TV comedy or musical. Congratulations also to actors Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent”), Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”) and Maggie Gyllenhaal (“The Honourable Woman”).


Diaz-Madden wedding: What was it?

Cameron Diaz and musician Benji Madden do not have any Jewish ancestry. So, what are we to make of a Jan. 6 Us Weekly article that says all sorts of Jewish wedding customs (like stepping on the glass) were incorporated into their Jan. 5 wedding ceremony? In time, we will learn if the article, which had no author’s name and relied on an unnamed source, was true at all. Meanwhile, be very skeptical. If the story is a harbinger, as some say, of a wave of “kosher-style” weddings for non-Jews — I don’t know whether to be offended or rejoice for the gelt to be made by klezmer bands, chuppah makers and even those guys who turn chopped chicken liver into table sculptures.

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

Nate Bloom

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