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Sandler, Stewart, “Mad Men” creator make Forward 50

by Danielle Berrin

November 18, 2008 | 5:57 am

Matt Weiner

The “Forward 50,” a list of prominent Jewish Americans compiled by the New York Jewish weekly has featured a whopping three Jews from the film and television industries. If this is the best they could do for their 2008 culture and media set, I’d like to know what other areas are absorbing the once flush field of Jews in Hollywood.

Not to mention, the choices therein seem a bit obvious and I’d like to think the pollsters of the Jewish A-list were a bit more creative:

While we all love Adam Sandler and affirm his hall-of-fame status in the Jewish world (it was the Hanukkah song, let’s face it), he’s a bit of old news; Jon Stewart has been hot for years now, but since he’s still hot, OKAY.

The redemptive stroke of genius this year is the inclusion of “Mad Men” creator Matt Weiner (even though the blurb omits any mention of his work on The Sopranos). Of course, my editor Rob Eshman spotted him over a year ago and I was lucky enough to catch him at the ADL conference last week discussing images of Jews on television (*will post link to story when it’s available Thursday).

If you haven’t yet seen “Mad Men,” RUN to the video store for Season One on DVD.

More from the 2008 Forward 50:

Adam Sandler
... Sandler’s “Zohan” grossed twice as much domestically as Steven Spielberg’s 2005 Oscar-nominated drama “Munich,” which likewise focused on a war-weary Israeli terrorist-hunter who finds refuge in New York City. But whereas Spielberg used Israel’s experience fighting terror as an excuse to offer a high-minded, post-9/11 morality lesson, Sandler used it as an excuse to offer a spot-on spoof of Israelis’ love of hummus, fondness for cheesy dance music and propensity for bluntness verging on rudeness.

Jon Stewart
...“The Daily Show,” Stewart’s wildly popular mock-news cable television show, is said to be the main source of news for the under-30 set. No one else in television matches Stewart, 46, at exposing politicians’ hypocrisy. There’s no disputing Stewart’s stature as the public face of a supposedly lost generation of American Jews: politically liberal, thoroughly American and proudly if ambivalently Jewish…(On John McCain visiting Israel with Senator Joseph Lieberman in tow: “You know, when you go to Israel you don’t have to bring your own Jew — there’s a wide variety of Jews there.”) In October, he lampooned Congress for delaying the financial bailout plan to adjourn for Rosh Hashanah (“I mean, seriously, Utah, you’re not coming in for Rosh Hashanah?”)...Last fall he mentioned to Tony Blair that his wife was Catholic and he was Jewish. When Blair asked how it was working out, Stewart replied: “We’re raising our children to be sad.”

Matthew Weiner
Matthew Weiner is ruthless. His critically acclaimed TV series on AMC, “Mad Men”...gets to the core of the American story — and the Jewish American story — through nuanced portraits of outsiders, loners and underdogs. The backdrop is a WASP-y Manhattan advertising agency in the 1960s…“Mad Men” won six Emmy awards this year, including one for best drama, but its greater accomplishment was in shaping perceptions of who Jews are and where we came from.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Danielle Berrin writes the Hollywood Jew blog, a cutting edge, values-based take on the entertainment industry for jewishjournal.com. A Los Angeles Times profile dubbed her...

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