Pro­ducer who turned the Os­cars around

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY TOM TUGEND

IT IS safe to say that the hap­pi­est Jewish nom­i­nee at Sun­day evening’s Academy Awards fete was pro­ducer Jeremy Kleiner, whose movie, Moon­light, was named Best Picture of the Year.

He clam­bered onto the stage af­ter an epic foul-up in which pre­sen­ters War­ren Beatty and Faye Du­n­away mis­tak­enly an­nounced La La Land as the win­ner.

And although Jewish La La Land pro­ducer Jor­dan Horowitz could not have been very pleased, his swift, gra­cious re­ac­tion to the mis­take — hail­ing the mak­ers of the win­ning movie to the podium with the words, “I’m go­ing to be re­ally thrilled to hand this to my friends from Moon­light” — re­ceived wide­spread praise.

Mean­while, song­writer Justin Hur­witz, look­ing even younger than his 31 years, won the golden stat­uettes for best mu­si­cal score and best orig­i­nal song (City of Stars) in La La Land, abet­ted by fel­low tribesman Benj Pasek, who wrote the lilt­ing lyrics.

Damien Chazelle, who got the best di­rec­tor nod for La La Land, de­serves men­tion as a “near” Jew. His two Catholic par­ents were dis­sat­is­fied with their son’s ed­u­ca­tion at a church Sun­day school and en­rolled him in the He­brew school of a lib­eral syn­a­gogue.

Over the next four years, Mr Chazelle said, “I had this pe­riod in my life where I was very, very into He­brew and the Old Tes­ta­ment and then I went with my class to Is­rael when we were in the sixth grade. I don’t think they even knew I wasn’t Jewish.”

Adding to the win­ning Jewish contingent was

Ezra Edel­man, who topped the doc­u­men­tary fea­ture cat­e­gory with OJ: Made in Amer­ica, while Ken­neth Lon­er­gan won for his orig­i­nal screen­play for Manch­ester by the Sea.

Mr Lon­er­gan’s bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther was Ir­ish, but he was raised by his Jewish mother and step­fa­ther. “I al­ways as­sumed that ev­ery­one was Jewish,” he told the New Yorker last year. Af­ter he met a few gen­tiles, he ac­knowl­edged: “Oh, not ev­ery­one is Jewish — but that took a while to sink in.”

Mel Gib­son, mostly in the news in re­cent years for his an­ti­semitic com­ments, was granted Hol­ly­wood’s ver­sion of redemp­tion when Hack­saw Ridge, di­rected by Gib­son, won Os­cars for best film edit­ing and sound mix­ing. Host Jimmy Kim­mel broke with a long-stand­ing Os­car tra­di­tion by ab­stain­ing from Jewish jokes. How­ever, the foil of the evening, both in Mr Kim­mel’s mono­logues and in winners’ ac­cep­tance speeches, was, pre­dictably, Pres­i­dent Don­ald J Trump. Play­ing with Mr Trump’s pre­vi­ous at­tack on Meryl Streep, Mr Kim­mel in­tro­duced her as “the over­rated ac­tress,” be­fore ask­ing the au­di­ence to give her “an un­de­served round of ap­plause”.

In ad­di­tion, when the Ira­nian movie The Sales­man was named the best for­eign­lan­guage film, the au­di­ence burst into en­thu­si­as­tic ap­plause, af­ter a writ­ten state­ment by its di­rec­tor, As­ghar Farhadi, was read by his des­ig­nated standin. She ex­plained Mr Farhadi’s ab­sence as a protest against Mr Trump’s or­der ban­ning cit­i­zens from seven coun­tries with ma­jor­ity Mus­lim pop­u­la­tions.

Thew hap­pi­est Jew was Jeremy Kleiner

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

Horowitz re­veals the real win­ner

PHOTO: AP

Kleiner with his Best Picture Os­car

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