Judd Apatow’s big Jewish (Journal) moment
Judd Apatow's latest flick, “This is 40” is a comic meditation on marriage and family and arguably his most personal film yet. It stars his wife, Leslie Mann, as well as his two daughters, Maude and Iris, and in a strong supporting role, his Jewish heritage.
In fact, there is a very funny scene in the movie about The Jewish Journal. As our own Naomi Pfefferman, the Journal’s arts and entertainment editor described it:
a shlubby journalist wearing a yarmulke shows up to do an interview and is described as being from the “Jewish Journal” — much to the chagrin of Pete (Paul Rudd), a record-label owner whose career and marriage are on the rocks. The only reporter who’s shown up to profile Pete’s star client, rocker Graham Parker, is (gasp!) from the Journal. “Apparently old Jews are the only ones who still buy hard copies of records. … Because they don’t know what downloading means,” one of Pete’s employees explains.
“Why is this album different from all other albums?” the reporter, played by Rolling Stone journalist David Wild, asks Parker. “It isn’t,” comes the tart reply.
Apatow was probably channeling Pfefferman, who has interviewed him several times over the years, when he thought of including a “Jewish Journal reporter” in his movie. It’s because of her, really, that our local, niche paper won a starring role in a big Hollywood flick, and so, you know, even though the Jewish journalist doesn’t come off as the hippest person ever, we’re still really proud.
“I insult myself all the time in my movies, so why not you?” Apatow joked during his recent interview with Pfefferman. “Remember,” he added, “I only make fun of the people I love.”
Yesterday, I called David Wild, the Rolling Stone contributing editor, author and TV writer to ask him how he prepared for his role as “Jewish Journalist”. “I prayed in a non-Jewish way that this would happen,” Wild said, upon answering the phone.
Wild was a rock journalist before becoming a go-to writer for television specials like the Grammys, Oscars and tonight’s CMA Country Christmas special on ABC — but he never knew he was an actor. One fortuitous day, however, he got a call from an agent at Creative Artists Agency, where he is repped as a writer, who told him he was being offered a part in Judd Apatow’s new movie.
Wild was both confused and elated. He had known Apatow previously, after contributing some music-related writing to the NBC show “Freaks and Geeks” and “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story,” both Apatow projects.
“I am very happy and grateful that somehow, when Judd thought of ‘Jewish journalist’ he thought of me,” Wild said. “As we all know, Jews have never made it in the media.”
Apatow offered scant direction for Wild’s big debut, though he asked him to bring a yarmulke to the set and to think of some questions Wild might ask in a real interview. Even though the original script didn’t offer the journalist any lines, Wild felt compelled to do some real “method work” and come up with questions that had “Talmudic relevance.”
On the day of the shoot, Wild did the Passover seder proud: “Why is this album different from any other album?” was his big Jewy query. The ad-libbed line made it into the film and Wild is very proud that during the premiere it elicited a “chortle” from Seth Rogen. “That’s when I felt the gods were on my side — that was very gratifying for me.”
Apatow later declared on Twitter that Wild’s was the “best yarmulke performance in any of my films.”
Wild believes the yarmulke came from Temple Israel of Hollywood, where he is a member and where his sons were Bar Mitzvahed. But like Apatow, he stops short of calling himself “religious.”
“I’ve been told by one of my best friends, who is Orthodox, that I’ve always had a very Jewish soul,” Wild said. “If I have one, I think it is very Jewish, and in that same sense as with Judd, [Jewishness] comes out all the time.”
So in the end, “Jewish Journal reporter” was exactly the right way to start his acting career.
“No one is enjoying their nine words of fame more than me,” he said.
Except for THE JEWISH JOURNAL, that may be true.