Herb Alpert, Michaela Watkins and Carol Kane

Nate Bloom blogs on this week's Jews in the News.


Wacky Shabbat Diners, Herb Alpert: on Sinai & Many Other Places


I confess, “Dinner with the Parents”, a “somewhat Jewish” comedy series, began last week (4/18) on the Freevee Channel/App and I didn’t know about its “existence” until the 15th (too late to be in my last column).

But, in my defense, there wasn’t a single pre-premiere review anywhere; it wasn’t on most lists of “upcoming” series; and even Wikipedia had not a word about it.

I think the main reason it “flew low” is because it is on “Freevee”, a free channel (or “app”) owned by Amazon. Most people haven’t even heard about Freevee. If you have Amazon Prime Video, Freevee programs are integrated into Prime—except Freevee programs always have ads. If you have Roku or Amazon Fire, you can add Freevee as a free app. Most cable networks offer it as another channel.

“Parents” is a 10-episode series. Four episodes streamed on the 18th. Two episodes stream every following Thursday, with the finale on May 9.

“Dinner with Parents” is based on “Friday Night Dinner”, a hit British series that ran from 2011-2020. It centered on a  “pretty” secular Jewish family that met every week for Friday Shabbat dinner.

Basic info: Jane (MICHAELA WATKINS, 53) and Harvey (Dan Bakkedahl) are a Jewish couple. They have two young adult sons, David (Henry Hall) and Gregg (Daniel Thrasher). Jane’s mother, called “Nana”, lives with her daughter. She’s played by the almost always funny CAROL KANE, 71.

Watkins starred in “Casual”, a Hulu series, and has had many guest star roles.

Hall has a little Jewish ancestry. He’s the son of Julia Louis-Dreyfuss. Her paternal grandfather was Jewish. Thrasher, 30ish, is a comedian and musician who has a very popular Youtube channel. Right now, I am not sure if he’s Jewish.

JON GLASER, 55, is a series regular. He plays Donnie, a usually annoying neighbor.  Glaser is best known as an Emmy-nominated, top comedy writer. But he also has a lot of experience as a comedy sketch actor ("Conan O’Brien" Show).

I did watch the first four episodes. I was almost never amused by the show’s “wacky” humor. I’ll explain why in my next column. But do check-out the first four episodes---maybe your sense of humor is different.

Every year, ABC shows “The Ten Commandments” (the 1956 movie) just before Easter and its showing is usually close to Passover. This year, the two holidays were a month apart and, for monetary reasons that I don’t have to explain, ABC ran  “Commandments”, a Passover story, before Easter (not Passover).

This year, I caught about five minutes of “”Commandments” when I changed the channel to Youtube. On Youtube, I stumbled upon an excellent 2020 documentary about famous trumpet player and composer HERB ALPERT. It’s entitled “Herb Alpert Is”.  Youtube offers a number of free films (with just a few ads), and this documentary is one of them.

As I watched the documentary, I remembered that Alpert, 89, was in “The Ten Commandments”. He had an uncredited role as a drummer on Mt. Sinai. Curious, I checked: Alpert is one of the three surviving cast members of “Commandments”. The other two are RISELLE BAIN, 77, an active cantor who played Young MIRIAM; and Debra Paget, 90, who played JOSHUA’s girlfriend.

Alpert was “huge” in the ‘60s and ‘70s. He and his band, the Tijuana Brass, sold millions of albums and often out-sold the Beatles. His upbeat, catchy instrumentals managed to appeal to older persons who didn’t like rock, while capturing a big following among younger people, too.

The film clearly traces how Alpert, a very intelligent man, developed his sound and how he began, and ran, a highly successful album label, A&M, with the late JERRY MOSS. They sold A&M for $700M! in 1989.

It is annoying that the film never mentions that Alpert is Jewish. He is the son of a Russian Jewish immigrant who worked as a tailor in the States. Herb’s father was also a serious musician, as was his mother, his sister, and his brother.  

The only clue that Alpert is Jewish is near the film’s end. There’s a short home movie clip of Alpert being married, under a chuppah, to his second wife, singer LANI HALL, 78. (Alpert had two children with his first, Jewish wife, and one child with Hall).

The film focuses on just one example of his many philanthropies. I checked: Alpert’s many other “good works” include funding a music school in Jerusalem that educates Jews and Arabs.

Alpert was in good shape in the 2020 film and, amazingly, he is still giving concerts with Lani. He has four concerts this May and four more in July.


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