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June 29, 2012

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PAGE 20A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 29, 2012 Screenshot from BBC A scene from BBC's show "Episodes," which features a tombstone with Hebrew that was translated incorrectly and engraved backwards. By 6 degrees (no Bacon) staff Drake's brawl NEW YORK Two weeks ago we reported that Drake is accused of buying a stolen Rolex watch that was owned by a New York entertainment lawyer. That case pales in comparison to the trouble "Drizzy" got himself into last week. Drake was out with his entourage at a Manhattan nightclub and happened to be sharing the same VIP room with Chris Brown. The one degree of separation between the two rappers is Rihanna: The music star once dated Brown (and was a victim of his abuse) and now is dat- ing Drake. At the club, the Drake and Brown entourages allegedly engaged in some heckling, which took a turn to the mutual throwing of bottles and a brawl that in- jured Brown, his bodyguard, several innocent party goers and even NBA star Tony Parker. New York police are inves- tigating the incident, the club is shut down and both sides want to press charges in what could be the beginning of a deep and ego-tastic rivalry. Israeli baby is born to be wild An Israeli family chose a creative way to introduce their baby at his brit milah-- and the video went viral on the Web. The family put the baby inside a remote-con- trolled race car and drove it around the hall, between pil- lars of fireworks and next to drummers. The post also was extremely popular on 6 (No Bacon), with several readers commenting, "imagine the bar mitzvah!" and "It looks like the introductions before a basketball game. I suppose Tibor Jager/Ramat Gan Safari/Flash90/JTA Terkel, a white rhino born on June 15 at the Ramat Gan Safari near Tel Aviv, with his mother, Tanda. that's appropriate, as they're both pre-tipoff." BBC messes up its Hebrew Another viral hit among Israelis was a screenshot from the BBC show"Episodes" that featured a cemetery scene of a man talking with a tombstone in the background engraved in English and Hebrew. While the English reads "Beloved husband and father, dearly missed," the Hebrew may look like gibberish. But it actu- ally makes sense--backward. Someone in the production apparently either used a poor translation software or simply had a bad language coding. Shia LaBeouf's nude clip Shia LaBeouf showed his LaBeoufs on the Icelandic indie band's Sigur Ros' mu- sic video for the song "Four Pianos." The clip with the actor in full-front nudity was directed by Israeli film- maker Alma Har'el, who won the Best Documentary at the TriBeCa Film Festival for her 2011 documentary film "Bombay Beach." It also features a nude female model. A news release says the video depicts "a man and woman locked in a never- ending cycle of addiction and desire." New rhino at the Ramat Gan Safari The Safari in Ramat Gan, just outside of Tel Aviv, cel- ebrated the birth of Terkel, a white rhino. The calf's mother, Tanda, was pregnant for nearly ayear-and-a-halfbefore giving birth June 15. Terkel, who is named for Emilia Ter- kel, a zoologist who is retiring from the Safari, joins his older brother, Tiborm, who is 4 1/2. More reason to celebrate: The birth of white rhinos in captiv- ity is quite rare. Mazel tov! For more Jewish celebrity news, visit, the illegitimate child of JTA. By Naomi Pfefferman The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles Alex Kurtzman is one of Hollywood's go-to scribes for science fiction and superhero fare. Along with his writing partner, Roberto Orci, he's penned blockbusters like "Transformers," a couple of "Star Trek" films, one of them upcoming, and "Mission Im- possible III." His office suite on the Universal Pictures lot is filled with mementos of these testosterone-fests: a model of the Starship Enterprise, for example, as well as framed posters of all his movies vying for space on the wall of a screening room. But the 38-year-old filmmaker, whose earnest dark eyes shine behind black- rimmed glasses, is making his directorial debut with an intimate character study titled "People Like Us," which has nary a robot nor a space- craft in sight. "But," he said "it reflects me in a deeper way than any- thing I've ever done." Loosely based on Kurtz- man's own family history, the drama is the story of Sam (Chris Pine), a narcis- sistic young man who, after the death of his estranged father, a music industry legend, is charged with de- livering $150,000 in inheri- tance money to a half sister, Frankie (Elizabeth Banks), he never knew he had. As their relationship unfolds, Sam is forced to rethink everything he thought he knew about his family, as well as his own life choices. The film's conceit stems from an unexpected encoun- ter Kurtzman had seven years ago at his aunt and uncle's 50th wedding an- niversary party, when a woman suddenly approached him and said, "Hi, I'm your dster2 Actually, it was his Alex Kurtzman half sister, but Kurtzman had never met her before. Even so, he saw his father's features in her face. "I was in shock," he said. "My brain just shut down. I couldn't process what I'd been told, and at the same time I had so many questions I didn't know what to ask first." Unlike the fictional Sam, Kurtzman knew from child- hood that he had a half sister, as well as a half brother some- where out in the world. On his fifth birthday, his father, a dentist, sat Alex down and told him that he had older children from a previous marriage that had ended in divorce. But thereafter, the matter wasn't discussed in the Kurtzman household in Santa Monica, Calif nor did the half siblings attend the family's Jewish and other celebrations. "We just never talked about it," said Kurtzman, who was raised culturally Jewish and who had to think hard to recall whether he had even seen a photograph of his older siblings as a child. "We were separated by age and geog- raphy," he added. "I spent my life having mo- ments of wondering where they were and what they were like, and at one point I started to feel that more acutely," he said. "My wife and I were talk- ing about the possibility of children, and that obviously brings up a lot about family and where you come from." One day, a cinematic im- age flashed into Kurtzman's mind, of siblings who met only as adults discovering home videos of themselves playing together as children, a lost memory. It was that very night that Kurtzman serendipitously met his own half sister, which sparked a series of heartfelt discussions. "It became about filling in the blanks," said the filmmaker, who de- clined to reveal more about his sister save that she is around 50 and "incredibly brave, super-athletic, smart, thoughtful and understand- ing." "We compared notes about where we'd been at different points in our lives, so we could do the math and figure out what our trajecto- ries were." Kurtzman also asked his relatives why the families had remained separate, but declined to elaborate on the answers in an attempt to protect their privacy. "There isn't a color of emotion I haven't felt," he said, when asked if he had felt angry about the separation. "But the most overwhelming feel- ing that both my sister and I had was a sense of lost time; we wishedwe could have been there for each other. And the deep gratitude of finally getting to know each other, with the hope that it's never too late." The experience proved so life altering that Kurtzman instantly knew he wanted to make a movie about it, albeit highly fictionalized, and enlisted Orci and a col- lege friend, Jody Lambert, to help him write the film. The movie also draws on Kurtzman's youthful aspira- tions of becoming a writer of independent films like Steven Soderbergh's "Sex, Lies, and Videotape." He said he car- ried that screenplay around in his backpack at Crossroads School, where he met Orci, in a French New Wave cinema class, during his senior year. Orci happened to have the same script in his own book bag, sparking a friendship and collaboration that led the partners to earn writing positions on J.J. Abrams' "Alias" while still in their 20s. Writing "People Like Us" wasn't easy--and not only be- cause the filmmakers couldn't just cut to a shot of an ex- plosion to create cinematic tension. Kurtzman feared his own family story simplywasn't dramatic enough to sustain a feature film. As it turned out, Orci had his own family secret: His great-uncle had had a clandes- tine second family--"He even named the children the same so as not to make mistakes," Orci said in an interview. "So the mixing of our two family experiences seemed like a good way to dramatize the shock of encountering family you'd never met before." While Sam's parents are nothing like Kurtzman's, the character and his cre- ator share some emotional DreamWorks II Distribution Co. From left: Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks and Michael Hall D'Addario in 'People Like Us.' truths, particularly "the sense of longing, that they're missing something--it's like a phantom limb--which is very authentic to my own experience," he said. What's different is that the film's half brother and half sister have both been made to feel broken by their aloof father, "and they have exactly the same armor to deal with that--humor and lies--they just do it in different ways," Kurtzman said. "But all their armor turns out to be totally useless against each other." Making a movie based upon his own experience has been cathartic for Kurtzman, who with Orci is now penning the sequel for the upcoming "The Amazing Spider-Man" and rebooting"The Mummy" franchise for Universal. "What I've learned is that judging people for their choices is in some ways the easiest thing to do, until you're in their shoes and faced with the same [dilem- mas]," he said, adding that his family has been supportive of the film. "There are so many things in life where people ask, 'Why'd you do that,' but the truth is you had your reasons, right or wrong." "People Like Us" opens today. Naomi Pfefferman is arts and entertainment editor at The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.