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February 22, 2007 - Image 49

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2007-02-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Cohen has recently given interviews in
which he said Borat was meant to mock
prejudice, including anti-Semitism. He also,
incidentally, clarified the many published
reports that say he is Orthodox.
Cohen is not quite Orthodox. He is like a
lot of Jews — all over the map in terms of
observance. He says he isn't that religious
and doesn't go to synagogue that often.
But he adds that he is very tied to Jewish
traditions and tries to keep kosher and to
celebrate the Sabbath with his parents.
Peter Morgan, who wrote The Queen,
is nominated for an Oscar for Best Original
Screenplay. Most of his writing has been for
British TV. Morgan's Jewish father, Arthur
Morgenthau, fled Nazi Germany for Britain
just before World War II. His mother, a
Polish-born Catholic, fled her native coun-
try for Britain following the Soviet occupa-
tion of Poland right after World War II. His
parents met in London.
Morgan, 43, who calls himself "spiritual;'
was not raised in either faith.
British playwright and screenwriter
Patrick Marber, 42, earned his first Oscar
nomination, for Best Adapted Screenplay,
for his script for Notes on a Scandal, a
film based on a novel by British Jewish
author Zoe Heller about two female teach-
ers at a British high school. Marber grew
up in a middle-class Jewish household in
suburban London. He went to a top pri-
vate boys' school (where he was a soccer
star) and then graduated from Oxford. He
worked for a few years as a stand-up come-
dian and then turned to writing comedy for
British television.
In 1994, his first stage play, Dealer, was a
hit at London's prestigious National Theater.
In 1997, his second play, Closer, opened
to stellar reviews. It has been performed
worldwide and was made into a critically
acclaimed Mike Nichols film, co-starring
Natalie Portman (Marber wrote the screen-
play).
This March, Alfred Molina stars in a ma-
jor Off-Broadway production of Marber's
2001 play, Howard Katz, which depicts
a middle-aged show-business agent who
tries to reconcile the Jewish spiritual values
of his parents with the superficial world of
television.

wright. Eyen wrote the book for the musical
(reportedly headed back to Broadway) and
the musical's song lyrics.
The late Broadway legend Michael
Bennett, who was Jewish on his mother's
side, was recruited to direct. Bennett, who
created A Chorus Line, smoothed away
Dreamgirls' rough edges and choreo-
graphed the stage show's dance numbers.
Bennett died of AIDS in 1987, and the same
disease killed Eyen in 1991.
Meanwhile, Krieger went on to write two
more Broadway musicals: The Tap Dance
Kid (1983) and Sideshow (1997).
Jewish actress Helen Hanft, 72, who
starred in several of Eyen's plays, describes
the Jewish Krieger as "a kind, retiring
man. Nobody would believe that almost 30
years after Dreamgirls opened that [he]
would be up for an Oscar."
Randy Newman, 63, has been nomi-
nated an astonishing 17 times for the Best
Song or Best Musical Score Oscar, winning
only once (2001's "If I Didn't Have You,"
from Monsters Inc.).
This year, his tune "Our Town',' from the
animated film Cars, is up for Best Song.
While Newman has continued to release
singer-songwriter CDs, since 1980 most of
his composing has been for films.
In 2005, his song "Louisiana 1927','
about the government's pathetic response
to a Mississippi flood, was sung at many
Hurricane Katrina benefits. It comes from
Newman's 1974 album Good 01' Boys, in
which he pays tribute in another song to his
Jewish mother's New Orleans roots.
Randy's father, a Jewish physician,
was the brother of famous Hollywood
music composers Alfred, Emil and Lionel
Newman. While Randy's father was the
only one of the brothers to marry a Jewish
woman, Randy still had very little exposure
to Judaism growing up. He brings a strong
moral viewpoint to his songs but remains
irreligious.
Randy's first cousins, Thomas and David
Newman, the sons of Alfred Newman, are
Oscar-nominated film composers in their
own right. This year, Thomas Newman,
who was raised in his mother's Christian
faith, is nominated for Best Original Score
for The Good German.

Composers

Cinematographer

Henry Krieger, who wrote the music
for the original Broadway stage version of
Dreamgirls (1981), composed four new
songs for the 2006 film adaptation of the
show. Three of these new tunes are nom-
inated for the Oscar for Best Song: "Love
You I Do,""Patience" and "Listen."
Krieger, in his 60s, is now working on a
stage version of The Flamingo Kid, the
hit '80s film. He wrote Dreamgirls with
Tom Eyen, a famous avant-garde play-

Last year, Emanuel Lubezki, 41, was
nominated for Best Cinematography for
The New Land. He is a Mexican Jew,
born and raised in Mexico City. He began
in Mexican films (including the hit Like
Water for Chocolate) and was Oscar-
nominated twice in the 1990s for work on
American films.
The cinematographer's father, Muni
Lubezki, was an actor in a rare Mexican
movie about Mexican Jews, Like a Bride.

This year Lubeski is nominated for
Children of Men, a sci-fi adventure. Critics
praised his unusual long shots that cap-
tured a post-apocalyptic world.

Documentary Filmmakers

Jewish filmmaker Amy Berg, in her mid-
30s, has a long track record as a creator of
documentaries for network TV and other
outlets. Her film Deliver Us From Evil
is about a now-defrocked Roman Catholic
priest who molested scores of children.
Shockingly, his superiors covered up his
activities for many decades. The former
priest is extensively interviewed. Deliver-
Us From Evil is nominated for Best
Documentary Feature.
Also nominated are Jewish filmmaker
Rachel Grady and her co-filmmaker,
Heidi Ewing, who is riot Jewish, for Best
Documentary Feature for their film Jesus
Camp, a nonjudgmental, but fascinating
look at the molding of young children at
a summer religious camp for evangelical
Christian children.
Grady was born Rachel Goldstein to two
Jewish parents, and she was raised Jewish.
Her non-Jewish stepfather, writer James
Grady, most famous as the author of Three
Days of the Condor, adopted her and she
took his last name.
Davis Guggenheim, 42, is the direc-
tor of An Inconvenient Truth, which is
nominated for Best Documentary Feature.
Based on former Vice President Al Gore's
lectures on global warming, the documen-
tary was a huge box-office hit, and most
critics, even those of a conservative bent,
were impressed.
Guggenheim is the son of the late Jewish
filmmaker Charles Guggenheim, a two-time
winner of the Oscar for Best Documentary.
Davis' mother comes from an old, upper-
class WASP family.
Truth was financed by producer Laurie
David, the Jewish wife of comedian Larry
David and a longtime environmental activist.
Jocelyn Glatzer is the producer of
My Country, My Country, a film about
the war in Iraq that was directed by Laura
Poitras, Glatzer's co-nominee for the Oscar
for Best Documentary Feature (Poitras is
not Jewish).
The film follows the lead-up to the Iraqi
national elections in early 2005. It centers
on a moderate Sunni Arab doctor and his
family. The doctor tries to treat the many
wounded Iraqi civilians and to encourage
participation in the political process rather
than engage in violence. But the spiral of
violence grows, affecting the doctor's own
family. It is a fascinating and heartbreaking
film.
I reached Glatzer by e-mail in
Kazakhstan, where she and her husband
are now adopting a child. She told me that

Sacha Cohen was "a fool" for depicting that
country as anti-Semitic (it isn't).
Glatzer has extensive experience in TV
and film production; her 2003 award-win-
ning film The Flute Player, about the
Cambodian genocide, was inspired in part
by her own family stories about Jewish sur-
vival against the odds in Russia.
Nathaniel Kahn, 44, is nominated for
Best Documentary Short for Two Hands,
an 18-minute gem of a film about Jewish
classical pianist Leon Fleisher, 78.
Fleisher was considered one of the best
classical pianists in the world when, in
1965, he hurt his hand while moving some
garden furniture. The injury never healed
and, in fact, got worse, depriving him of the
use of his right hand for most of the last
40 years. In the last five years, Botox treat-
ments have "unfrozen" Fleisher's fingers on
his right hand, and he has resumed playing
with two hands, although not with the facil-
ity he had at one time.
Nathaniel Kahn is the son of the late
famous Jewish architect Louis Kahn,
who died in 1974 and was the subject of
Nathaniel's Oscar-nominated 2003 docu-
mentary, My Architect.
Nathaniel, whose non-Jewish mother was
Louis Kahn's long-term mistress, said in an
interview that he virtually did not know his
father. While he was raised without religion,
he became very close to his Jewish heritage
while working on the film about his father.
He says he feels very close to the tenets, if
not the actual practice, of Judaism.

Honorary Oscars

Sherry Lansing, 62, the former chair-
man of Paramount Pictures and the first
woman to head a major film studio, will
receive the Motion Picture Academy's
Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. The
Hersholt Award is given to an individual
whose humanitarian efforts have brought
credit to the motion picture industry. It is
not given every year.
Lansing's mother was a refugee from
Nazi Germany, and Lansing has supported
many Jewish charities. She has been mar-
ried since 1991 to famous Jewish film
director William Friedkin. The two were
feted by the Israeli film industry when they
visited Israel a couple of years ago.



See this year's 10 Oscar nominees in both
the animated and live action short film
categories, including Ari Sandel's West
Bank Story, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 9:30
p.m. Friday, 4 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday
and 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22-25, at the
Detroit Film Theatre. Nominated for Best
Documentary Feature, Iraq in Fragments
screens 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 4
and 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23-25. $5-$7.50.
(313) 833-3237 or www.dia.orgidft.

February 22 2007

49

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