Tag Archives: Armageddon

Jew of the Week: Jerry Bruckheimer

The Man Behind Your Favourite Blockbusters

Jerry Bruckheimer at a ceremony to receive his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Credit: Angela George)

Jerome Leon Bruckheimer (b. 1943) was born in Detroit to German-Jewish immigrants. His favourite pastimes growing up were stamp-collecting, photography, and watching films. Bruckheimer studied psychology at the University of Arizona, then got a job in advertising. After producing a number of TV commercials, Bruckheimer decided to pursue his passion for film. He teamed up with directors Dirk Richards and Paul Schrader to make several movies, and soon caught Hollywood’s attention. Bruckheimer’s first big hit was Flashdance, which went on to earn $200 million and become a cultural icon. The following year came Beverly Hills Cop—originally meant to star Sylvester Stallone before Eddie Murphy took the lead, launching his film career. Two years later, Bruckheimer produced another big hit: Top Gun, going on to earn $356 million despite costing just $15 million to make. It won an Oscar and was later selected by the Library of Congress for historical preservation. (A long-awaited sequel is coming out later this year.) Top Gun was the first movie in Hollywood history that was produced in collaboration with the US Navy, and is credited with cleaning up the US military’s image after the Vietnam War. Bruckheimer went on to make blockbusters like Days of Thunder, The Rock, Armageddon, Enemy of the State, and Pearl Harbor. He produced the hugely successful Pirates of the Caribbean series, too—one of the highest-grossing film franchises in history. Bruckheimer has been hugely successful on the small screen as well. His first TV show was CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which spawned multiple spin-offs. He is behind the The Amazing Race, now in its 32nd season in the US, with a whopping 15 Emmy Awards (and 77 more nominations). At one point, three of Bruckheimer’s shows were in the top 10 in TV ratings. He has become something of a Hollywood legend, for whom nearly every film and show strikes gold. Bruckheimer has had a tremendous influence in the development of the modern “blockbuster”. He is a hockey fan, too, and invested in an NHL expansion team coming to Seattle starting in the 2021-2022 season. His latest production is the third installment of the classic cop-duo comedy Bad Boys, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, which opens in theatres next Friday.

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Words of the Week

Do not try to evade taxes, lest the government catch you and take everything you own.
– Rabbi Yehuda haNasi (Talmud, Pesachim 112b)

Jew of the Week: JJ Abrams

JJ Abrams (Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore)

JJ Abrams (Credit: Gage Skidmore)

Jeffrey Jacob Abrams (b. 1966) was born in New York, and raised in Los Angeles where both of his parents were involved with the film industry. (His father, Gerald W. Abrams, produced over 70 movies and TV shows, and was nominated for two Emmy awards.) Young JJ was inspired by the films of Steven Spielberg, as well as the first Star Wars trilogy. Though he wanted to go straight to film school after high school, his father convinced him to go to college first, saying “it’s more important that you go off and learn what to make movies about than how to make movies.” It was in his last year of college that Abrams co-wrote a screenplay, which was bought by Touchstone Pictures. His next film, Regarding Henry, starred Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson. Abrams was also part of a group developing computer animation technology, and his team was involved with the animation for Shrek. Meanwhile, Abrams worked on the 1998 blockbuster Armageddon, before shifting his focus to television. His first TV series was Felicity, ranked by TIME as one of the best TV shows of all time. In 2001, Abrams co-founded a new production company called Bad Robot. With this new label, he created the TV shows Alias and Lost. Amazingly, not only did he serve as a writer and executive producer, he also composed the opening musical themes for these shows. (In fact, Abrams first work in film was writing the music for the movie Nightbeast, which he did when he was just 16 years old!) Abrams then decided to try his hand at directing films, the first of which was Mission: Impossible III. (Tom Cruise gave Abrams the job after watching Alias.) He then directed the new 2009 Star Trek film, and its 2013 sequel. Just a few months before the sequel came out, it was announced that Abrams would produce and direct a new Star Wars film. Abrams ended up co-writing the screenplay, too. The 7th episode of Star Wars, The Force Awakens, had its Hollywood premiere last night, and has already garnered critical acclaim. It made him the first director to work on both Star Trek and Star Wars films. Abrams has also guest-directed episodes of The Office and Jimmy Kimmel Live!, appeared on Family Guy, and played small roles in three films. Abrams has won multiple awards and has been ranked among the ’50 Smartest People in Hollywood’.

Words of the Week

When two people meet, something good should result for a third.
– Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn