Jeremy Strong, James Gray and Tovah Feldshuh

A “Pretty” Jewish Movie; More Halloween Movies and a Sweet Treat

“Armageddon Time” was originally set to open in theaters on Oct. 21. This explains why the film's stars, Anne Hathaway and JEREMY STRONG appeared two weeks ago on talk shows to promote the film. Well, it was "yanked" at the last minute and will open in "limited theaters" on the 28th and open wide on Nov. 4.

The film was directed and written by JAMES GRAY, 53. Gray grew-up in a middle-class home in Queens, NY. He is the grandson (both sides) of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants. His films include “Ad Astra”, “Little Odessa”, and “Two Lovers”. The latter two have major Jewish characters. These three films, like most of Gray’s films, got good reviews.

Gray’s new film is “pretty Jewish”. The movie is set in Queens, in 1980. The central character is Paul Graff, a 9-year-old member of a middle-class Jewish family. Paul’s dignified, Ukrainian Jewish immigrant grandparents are played by Anthony Hopkins and TOVAH FELDSHUH, 73. His parents are played by Hathaway and Strong, 43 (Strong is best known for playing Kendall Roy on the hit HBO series “Succession”. The actor's father is Jewish).

Much of the plot is about the dire problems of Paul’s black friend and family tensions. But there are quite a few Jewish moments---like Paul’s grandfather telling him that Paul’s grandmother saw Cossacks kill her family in front of her—and Fred Trump (yes, Donald’s father and a real 1980 Queens resident)—asking Paul what is the “origin” of the name Graff. Clearly, Trump is trying to ascertain if Paul is "really" German or “just” a Jew with a Germanic name.

As promised last week, here are more, recently released Halloween related films.

“Halloween Ends” opened in theaters in Oct. 14 and is still playing. Also, if you subscribe to the “paid part” of the streaming channel, Peacock, you can view it until Dec. 14.  The film is the last part of a three-film trilogy. As you might have guessed, Laurie Strode (JAMIE LEE CURTIS, 63) once again “battles” serial killer Michael Myers. Curtis/Strode has been fighting him since the original "Halloween" movie (1978!).

Also in this film is KYLE RICHARDS, 53, who was a child actor in the original Halloween movie. Richards converted to Modern Orthodox Judaism when she married an observant Jewish man. Her sister married into “that” Hilton family and her niece is Paris Hilton.

“Hellraiser”, the 11th in a series of films dating back to 1987, began streaming on Hulu on Oct. 7. This film reportedly will “set the table” for a Hellraiser series on HBO that is in development. The plot is so detailed that I will not try to summarize it. Trust me, it’s a scary movie.

Two Jews have big parts: ODESSA A'ZION, 22, and BRANDON FLYNN, 29. Azion plays Rily McKendry, a recovering drug addict. Flynn plays Matt McKendry, Rily’s estranged brother.


A’Zion is the daughter of well-known comedy actor/writer PAMELA ADLON, 56 (“Better Things”).  A few years back, Odessa decided to use her middle name (“Zion”) as her last name. She’s co-starred in two short-lived series.

A friend “dug-out” Flynn’s ancestry. It’s almost all-Jewish, but he couldn’t determine if the ancestor (1930’s) who gave him the name “Flynn” was Jewish or not. Brandon has said his family is Jewish and he’s tweeted nice Hannukah greetings. Fynn is best known for playing Justin Foley in “13 Reasons Why”. which streamed on Netflix (2018-20)

Halloween Treat Story: Years ago, I wrote an item about the Tootsie Roll Company, then and now one of the few large independent candy companies. I have to repeat what I previously wrote to set-up the “big surprise”.  Here goes: the Tootsie Roll was invented by LEO HIRSHFIELD (the date of the invention is disputed—1896 or 1907).

The Tootsie company ran into financial problems in the ‘30s, and the company that made their cardboard boxes took over Tootsie (1935). BERNARD RUBIN, “the box guy”, was the head of Tootsie until his death in 1947. His brother, WILLIAM, followed Bernard, and after William’s death in 1962, his daughter, ELLEN RUBIN GORDON, a very sharp woman and a Brandeis grad, took control. She and her husband, MELVIN GORDON, co-ran the company until 2015, when Melvin died.

I checked up on Tootsie last week and I was astonished to learn that Ellen, now 90 (!), is still very much the head of Tootsie. The company’s stock value is very stable and Ellen Gordon Rubin, who owns 55% of the Tootsie stock, is worth at least 2 billion dollars. That’s sweet! (Tootsie makes several kosher certified candies, including the Tootsie Roll.) 


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