Jews run Hollywood, the old cliche goes. So an outsider might find it strange that one of Hollywood’s biggest studios, Warner Bros., agreed to make a movie about one of the Jewish world’s greatest heroes with a star known for going on anti-Semitic tirades.
Chanukah has come and gone, and Jewish parents everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief. It’s comforting to know that 5772/2011 will likely be the last year that we have to tell our kids the story of the Maccabees without the help of Mel Gibson. Last September, in an announcement that honored its four founding siblings — Hirsch, Aaron, Jacob and Szmul Wonskolaser — Warner Bros. proclaimed that it would finance Gibson’s next project: “The Judah Maccabee Story”! Gibson, who famously quipped (during a 2006 DUI incident), “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” apparently less-famously followed that with, “and I want to make movies out of all of them.”
Eighteen years ago, in "The Player," Tolkin introduced us to Griffin Mill, a studio executive who gets away with murder -- literally.
At the Humanitas Prize awards luncheon in Universal City earlier this summer, Jacob Aaron Estes picked up a $10,000 cash prize honoring the screenplay for his Paramount Classics film, "Mean Creek," which opens this weekend.
When asked what he would do with the money, the Chicago-bred writer/director told The Journal, "Pay rent."
The "Mean Creek" script depicts what happens when a teenage prank goes horribly wrong on a rafting trip. Such unexpected cruelty, Estes said, is based on "a whole accumulation of childhood experiences that I borrowed from."
Like the know-it-all self-help guru in her neurotic comedy, "Amy's Orgasm," 28-year-old filmmaker Julie Davis had never had what you'd call an actual boyfriend back in 1998. But she liked to dish out relationship advice. "I had all these theories," says the effervescent writer-director, whose debut film, "I Love You, Don't Touch Me," featured a 25-year-old virgin holding out for Mr. Right. "Like, 'save yourself for the one,' and 'a woman doesn't need a man to feel complete.'"
When Melanie Mayron read an early script of the iconic yuppie angst-fest "thirtysomething" in 1987, she rushed to the telephone. The series' creators had portrayed her character, Melissa, as Jewish, fat and troubled. But the famously redheaded actress didn't want any of that. She'd already been a recurring character on another show about a food-obsessed Jewish chick, the 1970s sitcom, "Rhoda." And she was tired of the cliché.
"Attempts to find in the youngster 'the warped person within the murderous dictator' have proved unpersuasive. If we exclude our knowledge of what was to come, his family circumstances invoke, for the most part, sympathy for the child exposed to them."
-- Ian Kershaw,
"Hitler: l889-l936 Hubris."
A small but vocal group of demonstrators rallied outside Paramount Pictures in Hollywood last week, wielding signs and chanting slogans like "Jodie Foster wants to glorify a Nazi" and "Stop Jodie's project now."
About 10 years ago, give or take a year, I was invited to director Arthur Hiller's home to attend a reading of a work in progress. About 80 to 100 people turned out and listened raptly as two wonderful actors, script in hand, read the work in progress. It was a play called "The Quarrel," written by two friends, David Brandes and Rabbi Joseph Telushkin and based on a short story by Yiddish writer Chaim Grade. I mean no exaggeration when I say that everyone seated in Hiller's spacious living area knew they were listening to a play that was special.
Director Bryan Singer was suddenly the flavor of the month. Dozens of scripts landed on his desk. Offers to direct big-budget movies with A-list actors like Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford materialized overnight. The year was 1995 and his breakthrough hit, "The Usual Suspects," was all the buzz in Hollywood.