The John F. Kennedy Center, Washington, United States at night seen from across the water with lights in rainbow lighting the building
Credit: Durul Dalkanat - The John F. Kennedy Center, Washington, United States

Nate Bloom


Mary Poppins Returns opened on Wednesday, Dec. 19. Almost everyone has seen the classic 1964 Mary Poppins film featuring a great performance by Julie Andrews and a super musical score by Robert Sherman (1925-2012) and his brother Richard, now 90.

Critics say that Emily Blunt, in the title role, is almost as delightful as Andrews and the score, by Marc Shaiman (Hairspray), 59, is very good. Shaiman’s score has brief musical references to the Sherman brothers’ score and Richard was a film consultant. British Jewish actor David Warner, 77, has a memorable supporting role in Returns as Admiral Boom.

David Warner - man looks into camera
David Warner RORY LEWIS

Bumblebee is the sixth entry in the Transformers series of films and advance reviews say it is the best film in the series. The year is 1987 and the title character is a “good” transformer scout on the run from bad guys from another planet. The scout transforms himself into a yellow VW Bug and hides in a scrap yard. There he is found by Charlie, a teen girl (Hailee Steinfeld), who “adopts” him, gives him the name “Bumblebee” and helps him as he battles the bad guys. Pamela Adlon, 52, and Jason Drucker, 13, have big supporting roles as, respectively, Charlie’s mother and Charlie’s brother. (Opens Dec. 21.)

Recording artist/actor Hailee Steinfeld attends the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018 in New York City. Seen in white strapless dress looking over her shoulder at the camera
Hailee Steinfeld Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS

Also opening on the 21st is Second Act, a comedy starring Jennifer Lopez as Maya, a 40-year-old woman who feels stymied by unfulfilled dreams and low-pay jobs. Things turn around when Maya is mistaken for a top consultant and is given a chance to make a major business deal. The supporting cast includes Dan Bucatinsky, 53, and Larry Miller, 65. The film was directed by Peter Segal (Anger Management, 50 First Dates), 56.


The annual Kennedy Center Honors ceremony for excellence in the arts took place on Sunday, Dec. 2. CBS will broadcast the ceremony on Dec. 26 at 8 p.m. Honorees this year include avant-garde composer Philip Glass, 81. Pop singer Adam Lambert, 36, took the stage to honor Cher, another Center honoree and he was reportedly “terrific.”

Adam Lambert - man with floppy hair and goatee and earring.
Adam Lambert Jackie Headapohl | Detroit Jewish News


CNN anchor Jake Tapper, 49, was recently a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers. First, he and Meyers discussed a movie now being shot that’s based on Tapper’s book, The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor (2013). This critically acclaimed bestseller tells the story of a horrendous attack on an American base in Afghanistan. Tapper noted that it is being directed by Rod Lurie, 56. Lurie, who was born in Israel, is a West Point graduate and a former U.S. Army officer.

Alice Paul Tapper - little girl with girl scout sash on
Alice Paul Tapper Penguin Young Readers

Then they talked about Tapper’s daughter, Alice Paul Tapper, 11. Next March, Alice has her first book coming out! It’s a picture book for children titled Raise Your Hand. Jake explained that his daughter noticed that boys raise their hand in class much more than girls, even if they don’t know the answer. Last year, Tapper tweeted about how Alice had created a new Girl Scout badge, “Raise Your Hand,” to encourage class participation. NY Times editor Bari Weiss saw the tweet and asked Alice to write a Times op-ed on the subject, which she did. That article led to the book. (The profits will go to the Girl Scouts.)