Harvey Keitel stars as Meyer Lansky in "Lansky." (Photo/Vertical Entertainment)
Harvey Keitel stars as Meyer Lansky in "Lansky." (Photo/Vertical Entertainment)

Keitel does Lansky; Jurnee joins the Academy; Fox makes hockey history; etc.

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A gangster and a Jew

Harvey Keitel, 82, is taking on the role of gangster Meyer Lansky, the “mob’s accountant” who oversaw and ran crime rackets from Miami to Las Vegas to Cuba, in the new film “Lansky.” It’s not the first time Lansky’s been portrayed on film, but it’s one that puts his Jewishness front and center, including his anti-German stance and his attempt — and failure — to get asylum in Israel. The film began a limited release in theaters on June 25 and also can be streamed on Amazon Prime (just make sure you don’t order the 1999 movie “Lansky” starring Richard Dreyfuss).


Jurnee gets an invite

Jurnee Smollett, fresh off her hit series “Lovecraft Country,” is one of 395 newbies who has been invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In an interview with Deadline about working on the intense show, she said she felt a sense of connection to the character she plays that went deeper than acting. “I, coming from a rich heritage of being Black and Jewish, absolutely know what it feels like to have my blood memory activated — real visceral connection to the suffering of my ancestors,” she said.

Jurnee Smollett in “Lovecraft Country.” (Photo/HBO)
Jurnee Smollett in “Lovecraft Country.” (Photo/HBO)

May gets her due

It may have been a long time coming, but the Academy has announced it will hand Elaine May, the 89-year-old comedian and writer, an honorary Oscar at the next awards in February 2022. May, who was born Elaine Iva Berlin, started performing as a child with her father, an actor on the Yiddish theater circuit, then went on to become half of the groundbreaking comedy improv duo May and Nichols with the late Mike Nichols. She later went on to write and direct in Hollywood.


Trans advocate speaks out

In a cover interview for Variety, Jazz Jennings, one of the youngest and most outspoken trans advocates, said she’s frustrated at the recent wave of anti-trans legislation in the United States. “There’s been a lot of progress, but I think with the abundance of love and acceptance, there’s also that contrast of hatred and cruelty,” she said. Now 20, Jennings, a YouTube personality, made headlines in 2007 when, at 11, she explained to Barbara Walters just what it meant to be a young person transitioning.


A Scientolo-Jew?

Designer Rebecca Minkoff, known for her slouchy leather bags that were huge in the 2000s, has a long interview in the New York Times to talk about her new book, which addresses (in part) her dual beliefs in Judaism and Scientology. “I think there’s a lot of confusion when people hear the word ‘religion,’” she told the paper. “Immediately you hear that I pray to L. Ron Hubbard.” But that’s not right, she said. “I study it, I take classes.”


Fox makes hockey history

Adam Fox of the New York Rangers is the first Jewish player to win a major NHL award, the Norris Trophy, which is awarded each year to the league’s top defenseman. The 23-year-old went from being a Rangers fan as a kid to its new star. And what does he think about being a Jewish hockey phenom? “It’s definitely nice to represent a community, for sure,” he told the New York Post in 2019.

Adam Fox skates in a game against the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden in Boston, May 8, 2021. (Photo/JTA-Steve Babineau-NHLI via Getty Images)
Adam Fox skates in a game against the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden in Boston, May 8, 2021. (Photo/JTA-Steve Babineau-NHLI via Getty Images)

Paul Simon and a N.Y. ‘homecoming’

Tired of Covid? So is New York City. Paul Simon is one of the headliners set to perform at a big reopening concert, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio, one that will also feature Bruce Springsteen and Jennifer Hudson. No date for the August concert has been announced, but the city is ready to welcome up to 60,000 attendees on the Great Lawn in Central Park for the “homecoming” concert.

Maya Mirsky
Maya Mirsky

Maya Mirsky is a J. Staff Writer based in Oakland.