(JTA) — Actor Steve Guttenberg has had the kind of career that put him in touch with nearly every trend in Hollywood. There were prestige films like “Diner” and “Cocoon” and the lighter but wildly successful fare like the first four movies in the “Police Academy” series. “Three Men and a Baby” was the biggest American box office hit of 1987; the 2004 Christmas movie “Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus” somehow spawned a sequel.
In short, it’s the kind of career that would inspire a juicy, dishy memoir, which it did when he wrote “The Guttenberg Bible” in 2012.
Now a brand new stage adaptation, “Tales From the Guttenberg Bible,” is playing through May 21 at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Guttenberg plays himself in the show, in which he explores his career, his Judaism and much more.
“As a tradition and as a culture, [Judaism’s] been a huge part,” said Guttenberg, who was born in Brooklyn in 1958 and raised in Massapequa, on Long Island. “My family didn’t observe Friday nights, but my father was kosher… I was bar mitzvahed, and then when I went out to California when I was 17, I found the temple to be a great respite for me, especially from the loneliness.”
For years, Guttenberg regularly attended the Stephen Wise Temple in Los Angeles, and later joined Kehillat Israel in Pacific Palisades.
The show features four actors playing 90 different characters, including the Jewish movie producers Allan Carr and Robert Evans, the voiceover actor Michael Bell (who is Guttenberg’s godfather), as well as Paul Reiser, Merv Griffin and Kevin Bacon. It covers Guttenberg’s life from age 17 — when he famously snuck onto the Paramount Pictures lot, set up an office and sometimes claimed to be the stepson of then-Paramount executive Michael Eisner — through his late 20s.
“It’s been such a great career, and I’ve really enjoyed it,” Guttenberg said. He said that Julian Schlossberg, the veteran producer of movies and theater, read the book and told him that he thought there was a play in it.
“So I started writing it into a play,” he said, and Schlossberg thought they should bring it to “a great regional theater.”
Guttenberg is not new to the stage, having made his Broadway debut in the early 1990s, and later appearing in “Relatively Speaking,” the Schlossberg-produced, one-act anthology that played in 2011 and 2012. Guttenberg appeared in the one-act play written by Woody Allen, while the other two were by Ethan Coen and Elaine May.
But the actor’s relationship with Schlossberg goes back much further. One of his first movie parts was in the 1978 thriller “The Boys from Brazil,” which was about a Jewish Nazi hunter (Laurence Olivier) tracking Nazis in South America. Schlossberg, hosting a radio show at the time, proclaimed Guttenberg a “talent,” on a broadcast that Guttenberg’s mother happened to hear, leading her to call in.
Schlossberg, author of a recent memoir about his own adventures in showbiz, described Guttenberg as a “nice Jewish boy” in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency earlier this year.
Although he was seen more recently on TV in “The Goldbergs,” “Party Down” and “Dancing with the Stars,” Guttenberg mostly stepped away from acting for about five years to care for his ailing father, who passed away last July. That, along with the pandemic, had put the play on the back burner.
When asked which of his movies he’s asked about the most, Guttenberg names “Short Circuit” (a 1986 sci-fi comedy) and “The Bedroom Window” (a 1987 thriller) in addition to “Three Men and a Baby,” “Police Academy” and “Cocoon.”
“‘Can’t Stop the Music’ gets a lot of play. And of course, ‘The Day After,’” he said, referring to Nancy Walker’s 1980 musical comedy and the groundbreaking 1983 TV movie about a nuclear apocalypse. Guttenberg said he was “lucky enough that I have five or six or seven old movies that people ask about.”
Guttenberg has warm memories of Leonard Nimoy, the Jewish actor and “Star Trek” icon who directed “Three Men and a Baby.”
“As a person, he was a ball of fire inside an iceberg,” Guttenberg said of Nimoy, who died in 2015. “Very stoic, but extremely warm and loving. The first time I met him, he asked if I had his mother’s stuffed cabbage… a terrific artist, an incredible acting teacher, a well-versed writer, photographer, and director.”
While “Police Academy” — about an inept bunch of cops — is a rare franchise from the 1980s that has never had any kind of remake or reboot, Guttenberg said that there have been about “10 scripts developed” over the years, including from such big names as Jordan Peele. He added that Taika Waititi, the Jewish director of “Jojo Rabbit,” is “developing one now, or thinking about it.”
Even though his acting took a back seat in recent years, Guttenberg noted that he enjoyed his run as a science teacher on “The Goldbergs.” The long-running, soon-to-conclude ABC series about a suburban Jewish family is set amongst the popular culture of the 1980s — so it has touched on several of his movies.
“I like [creator Adam F. Goldberg] a lot, and I think any time that we can give support to shows that have Jewish culture in them, that, as a Jewish person, you’ve got to lend your name to it, especially with all that’s going on,’” he said.
After the New Jersey run, Guttenberg will bring the show to Sag Harbor’s Bay Street Theatre in August, and, he and the producers hope, other engagements beyond that.
“I think it’s a great play, and I think we’re gonna be able to play it all over the country and in different cities, and one day back in New York.”
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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