Jesse Eisenberg learns karate, Jon Favreau helms ‘Lion King’ remake, and more

Jesse Eisenberg in the new film ‘The Art of Self-Defense.’

By Nate Bloom, Special to the Jewish Light

Sleeper summer hit and ‘The Lion King’ redux

“The Art of Self-Defense” opened on July 12 at the Tivoli theater in St. Louis and almost certainly will be held over a second week. I’ve never seen a better advance Variety review: “Casey Davis [JESSE EISENBERG, 35] may be the least macho man you’ve ever met…mugged by thugs… Casey hardly puts up a fight….Dark, sinister, and disarmingly hilarious [the film] tells the story of how someone like Casey learns to stand up for himself by signing up for karate classes. But it’s hardly that simple: Once enrolled, he starts to feel more confident in his personal life, even as he begins to realize that something bizarre is going on behind the scenes of the dojo (school).” 

JON FAVREAU, 52, is the director of a new version of “The Lion King,” the 1994 Disney animated classic. Favreau had a big hit with his 2016 remake of “The Jungle Book.” In that film, he used a newish process that’s now called “live action CGI.” In the new “The Lion King” he uses another new technique, called “photorealistic computer animation.” Check out the film’s trailer to see if you think it’s better than traditional animation.  SETH ROGEN, 37, has a starring role as the voice of Pumbaa, a slow-witted warthog, and BILLY EICHNER, 40, voices Timon, a wise-cracking meerkat. The Oscar-winning score from the 1994 film, by HANS ZIMMER, 61, is reused in this re-make. (Opens everywhere July 19).

A happy note and a sad one

Something I saw recently on YouTube prompted me to look at an online bio of actor KIRK DOUGLAS, 102. I noticed something not noted in most news outlets: Douglas’ wife, ANNE BUYDENS, turned 100 last April. Last May, the couple celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. Buydens converted to Judaism in 2004 when the couple renewed their wedding vows. I checked a bit and could not find another famous person who was alive and over 100 when their spouse, too, turned 100.

 Douglas and Buydens may be unique. Statistically, a “two-centenarian” marriage is very rare, period. Imagine the odds against one “100-plus” spouse being famous. Imagine the odds against them both being Jewish.

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

CAMERON BOYCE, 20, who died suddenly in his sleep on July 6, wasn’t a household name, but most young people knew the actor from his co-starring role in “The Descendants,” a Disney series.  Boyce had epilepsy and it appears that epilepsy was a factor in his death. Boyce was the son of an African-American father and a Jewish mother. He frequently expressed pride in both sides of his family. He 2017 he told Raw magazine: “I like to say that I’m bl-ewish, I’m black and I’m Jewish… me and DRAKE, we got that in common.” Boyce co-starred in “Grown-Ups 2,” a 2013 ADAM SANDLER movie. Sandler, 52, moved by Boyce’s death, tweeted: “Too young. Too sweet. Too funny. Just the nicest, most talented, and most decent kid around. Loved that kid. Cared so muchabout his family… All our hearts are broken. Thinking of your amazing family and sending our deepest condolences.”


The new season of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” hosted by JERRY SEINFELD, 65, begins on July 19th on Netflix. The number of episodes was expanded to 12 last season and 12 guests for the new season have been disclosed. They include SETH ROGEN, 37, and MATTHEW BRODERICK, 57, among others. 

Here’s some Jerry fun facts you may not know: He grew-up in Massapequa, a middle-class suburb on Long Island, N.Y. that has so many Jews and Italians locals refer to it as “Matzoh-Pizza” (I know this is true. I grew up in the town next to Massapequa.) Jerry’s father, the late KALMAN SEINFELD, was the owner of a sign company; Kalman was of Hungarian-Jewish ancestry, and Seinfeld’s late mother, BETTY, was of Syrian Jewish-ancestry. Seinfeld worked on an Israeli kibbutz when he was 16.