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RJC is a matchmaker for filmmakers

When movie director David Zucker was first told there was a Republican Jewish Coalition, he replied, “That’s like Indians for Custer!” But it turned out that the RJC was how Zucker, co-creator of the classic comedy “Airplane!” met Myrna Sokoloff, his co-writer for his latest film “An American Carol.”

Both Sokoloff and Zucker were “9-11 Republicans,” and Larry Greenfield of the RJC’s Los Angeles chapter introduced Zucker to Sokoloff because the filmmaker wanted to write Sen. Barbara Boxer, whom he had previously supported, a letter telling he he now supported President Bush.

“We never wrote the letter,” recalled Sokoloff, who had been a campaign operative for Democrats, including Boxer, in the 1980s and 1990s, has a masters in Jewish education from Hebrew Union College and was an aspiring screenwriter herself.

But they teamed up to make an anti-Kerry ad in 2004, and partnered to make “An American Carol,” a spin on the classic “A Christmas Carol” in which a documentary filmmaker with a remarkable resemblance to Michael Moore is taught to love America. Kevin Farley, brother of the late Chris Farley, plays “Michael Malone,” and Leslie Nielsen, Kelsey Grammer and Jon Voight are among the stars who appear in the film.

The movie was previewed in Minneapolis on the Sunday before the Republican National Convention, and after the film received a standing ovation, Zucker pointed out to the crowd that the producer of his movie, Stephen McEveety, also produced Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of the Christ.” Zucker joked that since McEveety had been so successful with a film that consisted mostly of “Jews beating up God,” he was urging Zucker to insert scenes of “Jews beating up the pope or Gandhi.|

As for the film, there is some of the slapstick and classic sight gags that Zucker’s films are known for (at an anti-war protest, the back of one protester’s sign reads “See Other Side”). And there are a few uproarious scenes, particularly a training film early in the movie showing the right and wrong ways to carry out a suicide bombing – Ahmad finds his target, while Ahman doesn’t have the proper directions and blows up before he gets there. There’s also a scene on a plantation when a character who gets tired of hearing the slaves sing old spirituals and requests something else –and they break into “Hava Nagila.” But as the film goes along, the humor seems to give way to the political message – which gets very heavy-handed at times. And the filmmakers seem to really hate Michael Moore – the character is even called unprintable names by his niece. It will open nationally on October 3.

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