After actress Rita Wilson saw Nia Vardalos' one-woman play My Big Fat Greek Wedding in Los Angeles, she was so convinced it could be a movie that she and husband Tom Hanks produced what became one of the most profitable films of all-time. When Bryan Fogel and Sam Wolfson approached Wilson about the movie version of their stage play Jewtopia, she told them, "I think this film has the potential to be a new My Big Fat Greek Wedding." Local audiences get a chance to see if they concur April 26, when the Jewtopia world premiere opens the Newport Beach Film Festival.
Like the off-Broadway hit of the same name, Jewtopia follows the romantic exploits of Adam Lipschitz (Joel David Moore of TV's Bones), who is Jewish, and his buddy Christian O'Connell (Ivan Sergei of TV's Charmed and Crossing Jordan), who is not. Christian asks Adam for help in wooing the girl of his dreams Alison Marks (Jennifer Love Hewitt), who is also Jewish.
As in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, complicating matters for all involved are overbearing family members, who in Jewtopia are played by veteran actors like Wilson (as Adam's mother Arelene Lipschitz), Tom Arnold, Jon Lovitz, Camryn Manheim, Wendie Malick and recent newsmaker Nicollette Sheridan. Adam also deals with a demanding fiancée Hannah (Jamie-Lynn Sigler), who drags him to five rehearsal weddings to ensure a perfect ceremony.
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Fogel, whose play has been seen by more than 1 million people worldwide, makes his feature film directing debut with Jewtopia. He continues the comparison with My Big Fat Greek Wedding in an Entertainment Weekly post, where he reportedly says of the 2002 film, "you didn't have to be Greek to think, 'That's my family.' Jewtopia is universal like that, too."
The world premiere is 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 26, at Edwards Big Newport, 300 Newport Center Drive. Tickets are a steep $125, but that includes entry to the Newport Beach Film Festival's opening night gala, an annual blowout where you'll enjoy Absolut vodka, tastings from 35 Orange County restaurants and a sneak peak performance from the Tony-winning musical Million Dollar Quartet coming to the Segerstrom Center. You have to be 21+ to attend the gala, where cocktail attire is suggested.
The Newport Beach Film Festival will go on to showcase more than 400 films from 50 countries and host nightly special events through May 3. Visit www.NewportBeachFilmFest.com for more details.