Mel Brooks plays Melephant Brooks (not pictured) in the fourth Toy Story movie.
Mel Brooks plays Melephant Brooks (not pictured) in the fourth Toy Story movie.

Melephant Brooks, Carl Reineroceros and the other Jews of ‘Toy Story 4’

At the movies

The animated Pixar film “Toy Story 4” opened in theaters last week and will be playing for many weeks to come. Bay Area native Tom Hanks again voices Woody, the cowboy toy who is the star and hero of the whole series. Woody’s new adventures include going with the whole toy gang on a long family road trip. Randy Newman, 75, wrote the musical score and songs. He has written the music for all four “Toy Story” movies and he won an Oscar in 2011 for a “Toy Story 3” song. Eight screenwriters are credited, including Rashida Jones, 43, and her writing partner Will McCormack. Jones and McCormack left the project in 2017, explaining later: “We remain enormous fans of [Pixar] films, but it is also a culture where women and people of color do not have an equal creative voice.”

The large voice cast includes: Wallace Shawn, 75, as the voice of Rex, a dinosaur. Shawn now has a regular role on “Young Sheldon” as Dr. Sturgis; Estelle Harris, 91, as Mrs. Potato Head’s voice. She’s best known as Mrs. Costanza in “Seinfeld”; the late Don Rickles voices Mr. Potato Head. In his memoir, Rickles said that his young grandsons were more impressed by his Mr. Potato Head role than by anything else he ever did. The “Toy Story 4” credits dedicate the film to Rickles; Mel Brooks, 92, as the voice of Melephant Brooks; Carl Reiner, 97, as the voice of Carl Reineroceros; and Jeff Garlin, 57, as the voice of Buttercup, a unicorn. I can’t think of another film, animated or not, in which three Jewish actors over 90 appear.

Brooks was in New York recently for a two-night performance of his show “Mel Brooks on Broadway.” The New York Post reports that a Discovery channel executive asked him the “key to longevity.” He replied: “Keep on living.” In an audience Q&A segment, Brooks was asked: “Do you wear boxers or briefs?” He replied, “Depends.”

Harvey Keitel, 80, will play Meyer Lansky (1902-1982) in a bio-pic about the famous Jewish gangster that begins filming in August. Lansky is a familiar screen character. The gangster character Hyman Roth in “The Godfather, Part II” was based on Lansky and he was a prominent character in the film “Bugsy”, about gangster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel. The new film will cover the latter part of Lansky’s life and is based, in part, on interviews he gave in 1973 to Robert Rockaway, now 80. Rockaway is professor emeritus at Tel Aviv University, and the author of “But He Was Good to His Mother: The Lives and Crimes of Jewish Gangsters” (2000). The new film is directed by Robert’s son, Eytan Rockaway, 35ish. He was born in New York, grew-up in Israel, and after his IDF service, went to New York University where he got a degree in filmmaking.

Josh Charles fest

“The Loudest Voice” is a limited (seven-episode) Showtime series that premieres on June 30. It stars Russell Crowe as the late Roger Ailes, the creator and head of the Fox News Network. He was ousted from Fox in 2016 (a year before his death) amid a cascade of accusations that he had sexually harassed many Fox female employees. Josh Charles, 47, plays Bill Shine, Ailes’ long-time top aide at Fox. He took over Ailes’ job only to be ousted in 2017 when several lawsuits claimed he abetted Ailes’ sexual harassment.

The documentary “Framing Delorean,” has been playing in just a smattering of theaters nationwide. But it’s available, now, on most pay-per view streaming services.  The film is about John Delorean (1925-2005), the auto executive who headed-up the short-lived Delorean car company. There are many dramatic re-enactments in the film. Alec Baldwin plays Delorean and Josh Charles plays Bill Collins, an engineer who designed the Delorean car. Also dramatized is (real life) attorney Howard Weitzman, now 77, who lead the legal team that successfully defended Delorean on charges of cocaine trafficking.

Nate Bloom

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