0 V E
Academy Awards show
plays Jewish tune as "Pianist"
and other Holocaust-related
films compete for the
Special to the Jewish News
I t could be another Jewish
night at the Oscars this year.
The Pianist, a searing film
about one Jewish musician's
survival in Warsaw during the Nazi
occupation is up for seven Oscars,
including best picture.
Roman Polanski, the movie's direc-
tor, and Adrien Brody, in the title
role of Wladyslaw Szpilman, on
whose memoir the film is based, are
nominated in the directing and best
actor categories, respectively.
In recent years, several Holocaust-
themed films, beginning with
Schindler's List, have won Oscars.
There had been considerable spec-
ulation whether Polanski, who
escaped from the Krakow Ghetto as a
boy of 7, would be nominated.
He is officially a fugitive from the
Life With Harvey (Weinstein)
Miramax producer Rick Schwartz describes working on "Gangs Of New York,"
and how his Judaism is a buffer from the glitz of Hollywood.
The Jewish Week
hen the now legendary film director
Martin Scorsese first discovered
Herbert Asbury's book Gangs of New
York in 1970, and decided to make it
into a film, Rick Schwartz was a 2-year-old growing
up in a Modern Orthodox home in Teaneck, N.J.
It took three decades for Scorsese to complete his
dream, the epic film nominated this year for best
picture — and it was helped along by hundreds of
people. One key figure was Schwartz, the self-effac-
ing vice president of production for Miramax Films
who served as co-executive producer on the movie.
During several recent interviews, Schwartz, 34,
who now lives in Englewood, N.J., spoke about the
"incredible opportunity" of spending much of the
last three years working closely with Scorsese and
actors like Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis
and Cameron Diaz on the film, an almost three-
hour depiction of the brutal and bruising life in
Lower Manhattan of the Civil War period, little
explored in American movies.
"We all knew that we would never have another
experience like this," said Schwartz, given the size,
complexity and talent of the assembled cast. He has
Gary Rosenblatt is editor and publisher of The Jewish Week.
ment and intellect.
On one level, Gangs is the
story of a young man
(DiCaprio) who as a child
witnessed his father's death in
a major war of gangs
(between Irish immigrants in
the Five Points section of New
York and the nativists who
resented the newcomers).
Years later the young man
returns to the neighborhood
to seek revenge on the pow-
erful leader (Day-Lewis)
killed his father.
In the world of Hollywood
But it is also the story of
hype, the film is known as
prejudice, class and race in
much for the off-screen mon-
this country, set against the
"Gangs of New York" co-executive producer
umental struggles between
backdrop of the Civil War
Rick Schwartz of Miramax huddles with
Scorsese and Miramax
and culminating in the 1863
Nicole Kidman — with whom he's worked on
founder and co-chairman
Draft Riots, the deadliest
several films — at January's Golden Globes.
Harvey Weinstein over artis-
urban uprising in American
tic issues and budget (it took
137 days to shoot, was in
For those who don't mind the sight of gore and
post-production for 18 months and cost about $100
blood — there are no gun battles but just about
million) as it is for its content.
Not given to gossip, Schwartz noted, diplomatical- every other form of brutal mayhem is vividly depict-
ed — the story is compelling and the visual impact
ly, that there were "creative tensions and heavy
moments" between Scorsese and Weinstein, both of
whom he describes as men of great passion, commit- LIFE WITH HARVEY on page 74
some trouble defining just
what his job as a producer
entails, but noted that it is
mostly about "problem solv-
ing," serving as a buffer
between the studio and the
creative people, dealing with
every aspect of making a film
and "a million logistical prob-
lems along the way."
Whatever those problems
are normally, they surely were
multiplied in making Gangs of