Celebrity jews

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


Mensch = Nimoy

Walter Koenig

Here’s one story about Leonard Nimoy not in most obituaries. Last July, Walter Koenig, 78, who played Chekov on “Star Trek,” spoke to the Las Vegas Sun. About Nimoy, he said: “Leonard was … a very good man. Sound ethics and a good sense of morality … when it came to the attention of the cast that there was a disparity in pay — in that George [Takei, “Mr. Sulu”] and I were getting the same pay, but Nichelle [Nichols, “Uhura”] was not getting as much — I took it to Leonard and he took it to the front office and they corrected that.” The website Trekmovie.com confirmed the story with Nimoy. The Jewish actor, who died on Feb. 27, noted: “There was also the case where George and Nichelle were not hired to do their voices in the animated series. I refused to do Spock until they were hired. [“Trek” creator Gene] Roddenberry started calling me the conscience of ‘Star Trek.’”

Trekmovie commented that Nimoy’s stand for Nichols back in the 1960s took some courage: He was just a cast member at the time without much pull and it could have hurt his career, all going to prove that “Nimoy is a mensch.” The first visitor comment on the article was: “There are people who don’t know Nimoy is a mensch?”


At the movies

Opening Friday, March 13 is “Cinderella,” a live-action Disney film that tracks (with a few twists) the 1950 Disney animated version. Advance reviews are glowing. It stars Cate Blanchett as the wicked stepmother, with Brit actress Lily James in the title role. The screenplay is by Chris Weitz, 45 (“The Golden Compass”). Bonus: Theater showings include an animated short, “Frozen Fever,” which is a sequel to the megahit “Frozen” film (yes, Idina Menzel sings in it).


Newish on TV

Liz Feldman

The Fox series “Empire,” which began in January, has become a hit. It centers around an African American hip-hop mogul (Terence Howard) and his extended family. In the Feb. 25 episode, the mogul’s middle son, Jamal, a singer, reveals to the world that he is gay. Playing Jamal is Jussie Smollett, 31, who is the son of a Jewish father and African American mother. Smollett, who recently confirmed publicly that he is gay, posted an Instagram photo of himself lighting Hanukkah candles in December. Meanwhile, on NBC, gay issues are a big part of the six-episode sitcom “One Big Happy” (starts at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 17). Created by lesbian comedian Liz Feldman, 37, it’s about a lesbian who has been friends with a straight guy since childhood. She wants to raise a child with him, and just after she learns she’s pregnant, he falls in love with and marries a British girl. In the words of the show’s publicity release, “a different kind of family is born.”


Giving Jews

Jan Koum

Every year, the Chronicle of Philanthropy issues a top-10 list of the biggest U.S. charitable donors. Three on this year’s list are Jewish, and two are from the Bay Area. Ranked at No. 9 is Sergey Brin, 41, Google co-founder, $383 million. He lives in Los Altos and Google’s headquarters is in Mountain View. Ranked at No. 7 is Michael Bloomberg, 73, former New York City mayor and Bloomberg News founder, $462 million. Ranked at No. 4 is Jan Koum, 39, co-creator/co-owner of WhatsApp, a mobile messaging service acquired by Facebook in March 2014 for $21.8 billion. A Ukrainian immigrant, he grew up quite poor in Mountain View and now lives in Santa Clara. Koum donated $556 million. n


Nate Bloom

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