Amid the fuss surrounding The Reader’s nomination for the best picture Oscar, the fact that another Holocaust movie figures on the list of films to be feted at the Academy Awards in three week’s time has gone largely unnoticed.
What better place to talk to Steven Berkoff about his new stage adaptation of the classic Hollywood movie On the Waterfront than on the waterfront — more specifically in Berkoff’s studio perched a few feet above the Thames in London’s Docklands?
It is an appropriate setting to discuss a topic that has long been dear to his heart. As a teenager growing up in the Jewish East End, Berkoff felt a great affinity with the film, which was released in 1954 and starred Marlon Brando as docker Terry Malloy in a story about mob violence and corruption among New York’s longshoremen.
If you spend a little time talking to Mandy Patinkin it becomes apparent exactly why his career has been so wide-ranging and eclectic — from films to television; Shakespeare to musicals, straight acting to albums of Yiddish songs.
He quite obviously does not like to be contained in one area. Having agreed to an interview to promote Mandy Patinkin: In Concert, his one man show at the Duke of York’s Theatre in the West End, he proceeds to spend much of the time pleading for an end to the conflict in Gaza.
Liev Schreiber is not an obvious choice to play a tough, violent partisan. Unlike Daniel Craig, his co-star in the film Defiance — which is released today — Schreiber does not have a hard-man image. In fact, his upbringing was about as far from tough as it gets. He was raised as a vegetarian in a series of hippie communes by his liberal, free-thinking papier-mâché puppet-making mother. When he left home, he graduated in drama at Yale and became one of America’s leading Shakespearean actors. Streetfighter he ain’t.
When novelist and screenwriter Deborah Moggach was approached to adapt Anne Frank’s diary for a BBC drama series, she was daunted by the idea.
The diary — written before and during the two years that Frank and her family were in hiding from the Nazis in a house in Amsterdam — has already been adapted and performed a number of times on stage and on screen, so Moggach realised she had to come up with something fresh. And she had the difficult job of extrapolating conversations from the text which might well never have happened.
As the Israeli Prime Minister’s official spokesman, Mark Regev spends a lot of time being interviewed on television and radio. However, while he has no problem with his highly visible role, he likes it best when no one is interested in talking to him.
It is not that Regev is shy or reticent to promote Israel’s position. It is simply that when the news networks are clamouring to talk to him, it invariably means that something has gone badly wrong.
Horrid Henry is a very naughty boy. He is nasty to his brother, he plays pranks on his teachers and he makes his parents absolutely miserable. Yet one cannot help feeling that his creator, children’s author Francesca Simon, is rather fond of him — and admires many of his qualities.
It is not just the fact that Horrid Henry has become a publishing phenomenon, selling 12 million copies in 27 countries, and has spawned a hit ITV series and now a West End play, Horrid Henry – Live and Horrid. It’s that Henry has what Simon calls a “life force”.
If there was a competition to find the most unusual job performed by a Jewish woman, Houda Ezra Nonoo would undoubtedly win. As Bahrain’s ambassador to the United States, Nonoo is currently the only Jewish female to be ambassador of an Arab Gulf state. In fact, she is the only Jew ever to be an ambassador of an Arab country. She says her mission is to promote a country of which she feels very proud. Such was the publicity engendered by her appointment that she could fairly have been said to have achieved her goal before she even started her new job in Washington DC in September.