The Shmooze

How Mike Nichols Was Related to Everyone

By Nathan Burstein

Photos: Getty Images

This article was first published in the February 26, 2010 issue of the Forward.

On the celebrity family tree, a Jewish film director has been revealed as the missing link among Albert Einstein, Meryl Streep and TV’s Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Mike Nichols, the Oscar-winning director of the 1967 film “The Graduate,” learned that he shared connections with a surprising set of “cousins” in “Faces of America,” a new PBS series that traces the background of a dozen prominent participants. Hosted by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., the show uses a combination of genealogical records and DNA testing to make a series of unexpected discoveries, some of them stretching back dozens of generations.

For Nichols, born in Berlin in 1931 as Michael Igor Peschkowsky, those discoveries both confirmed old family legends and turned up new information. In a vindication of the filmmaker’s mother, genealogical records showed that Nichols’s great-grandfather was indeed a second cousin to Einstein — a claim the filmmaker said he’d long dismissed as family lore.

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'The Giver' Trailer Is Here

By Anne Cohen

In the age of “Hunger Games” and “Divergent” dystopian frenzy, expectations are at an all-time high for the movie adaptation of Lois Lowry’s “The Giver.”

Unlike Katniss Everdeen’s gritty District 12, Lowry’s best-selling novel takes place in a warped future where all the unpleasant aspects of life have been erased. No war, no pain. And no feelings.

As Meryl Streep —  throwing some major shade in the newly released trailer — says: “When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong.”

Starring alongside Meryl (aren’t we all?) are newcomer Brenton Thwaites as the main character, Jonas, Jeff Bridges (who also produced), Alexander Skarsgard, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift (what?) and Israeli actress Odeya Rush.

Watch the trailer here:

Photo credit: Meryl Streep in “The Giver”// Youtube

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Have you Jew-Googled Today?

By Devra Ferst

Who’s Jewish? According to Google (and Gawker ) nearly everyone in Hollywood, from Meryl Streep to Morgan Freeman, and even Mel Gibson. Well, sort of.

Click to zoom

A post late Tuesday on media news and gossip Web site Gawker revealed that the top search suggestions on Google for various celebrity names (when preceded by the word is) include the word Jewish. For example, if you type the words “Is David Beckham” into the search bar, a drop-down menu will appear with several options, the first of which is “Is David Beckham Jewish.”

It’s the top ranked search for Robin Williams, Sarah Jessica Parker, Daniel Radcliffe, Ben Affleck and Bill Gates.

And it’s not just celebs. Type in “Is Al Gore” and you will get suggestions including “an idiot, Jewish, a hypocrite.” (Yes, in that order!)

Go ahead. Try it with your favorite celebrities. Let us know what you find. (You know you want to.)

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