Jews in the News: Amy Schumer, Liev Schreiber and Iliza Shlesinger

Something Funny; Something Tough

AMY SCHUMER, 35, and GOLDIE HAWN, 71, are arguably the two most famous Jewish comic actresses of the last 48 years (Hawn won an Oscar in 1969 for “Cactus Flower,” her first big film.) Hawn recognized a kindred spirit in Schumer when she agreed to co-star in “Snatched,” her first film since 2002. (Opens Friday, May 12)

Schumer plays Emily, a dreamer who plans to take an exotic vacation with her boyfriend. Emily persuades her ultra-cautious mother Linda (Hawn) to go on this exotic vacation with her after her boyfriend dumps her. Well, of course, things go horribly wrong—including wild jungle adventures that require Linda and Emily to work out their differences if they are going to survive.

IKE BARINHOLTZ, 40, has a supporting role as Emily’s brother. The film was directed by JONATHAN LEVINE, 40 (“50/50” and “The Night Before”). It was written by Katie Dippold, Schumer, and Schumer’s sister, KIM CARAMELE, 33.

Schumer’s real life father, GORDON SCHUMER, 67, like her father in the hit film, “Trainwreck,” has long suffered from multiple sclerosis. Last week, Amy posted a touching Instagram video of Hawn meeting her father at his nursing home. Gordon was clearly touched by the fact that Hawn would visit him. Goldie told E! News that she was very moved by “the joy in his face.”

Meanwhile, Schumer told E! News that she's undecided whether to have kids—even though everyone is asking her that question. She added that Hawn is the exact opposite of the mother she plays in “Snatched”: “She’s very laid-back.”

Still playing in most theaters is “Chuck,” which opened May 5 to pretty good reviews. It tells the story of Chuck Wepner, a Bayonne, New Jersey small-time prizefighter who got his 15 minutes of fame in 1975 when he was picked to box Muhammad Ali in a title fight. (Yes, the film “Rocky” was partially inspired by Wepner’s real-life fight.)  Wepner lost to Ali, but shocked everyone by going almost 15 rounds with the great champ. As the film depicts, Wepner had a rough time coping with his new fame, but recovered his bearings over time.

The film was written by JERRY STAHL, 63 (“Permanent Midnight”) and JEFF FEUERZIG, 52. Feuerzig, a New Jersey native, previously made a documentary about Wepner.

LIEV SCHREIBER, 49, stars as Wepner, with Naomi Watts, the real-life mother of Liev’s two children, playing Wepner’s third wife, Linda (Watts and Schreiber split-up shortly after the film was completed last summer).  MICHAEL RAPAPPORT, 47, plays Wepner’s estranged brother. RON PERLMAN, 67, has an equally big part as the late AL BRAVERMAN, Wepner’s trainer and corner man. 

Braverman, a good fighter himself in the 1930s, is credited with making the Ali/Wepner match happen. Braverman, I read, was a tough, smart guy, but loved to feed the press quotes that made him sound like a not-too-bright “Guys and Dolls” character.  When asked whether he used a “foreign substance” to stop Wepner’s bleeding, he replied: “No, it was made in America.” (Wepner’s nickname, by the way, was the “Bayonne Bleeder”—because he was easily cut and the original title of the film was “Bleeder”).

Check Out Iliza Shlesinger

I’d like comedian ILIZA SHLESINGER, 34, more if Amy Schumer wasn’t around. Both are hip comedians with a strong feminist view. Iliza’s amusing, but I keep thinking that Amy’s take on the same things Iliza talks about would be cleverer and funnier. Nonetheless, Shlesinger's new six-episode talk show, “Ilza and the Truth,” is mucho better than most similar stuff on a basic cable station. It began on May 2 on the Freeform Channel (formerly ABC Family) and new episodes air Tuesdays at 10PM. (All episodes free on Freeform site and through Roku, etc.)

In the premiere episode, Shlesinger did a few stand-up funnies before a small live studio audience and then did some amusing commentary behind a desk. Finally, she interviewed her friend MAYIM BIALIK, 42, about Bialik’s new book, “Girling Up: How to Be Strong, Smart and Spectacular” (more about that next week).

Shlesinger grew up in Dallas, where she was active in the Reform community: Hebrew school, bat mitzvah, a trip to Israel, and a year in BBYO (the B'Nai Brith youth leadership organization). She’s a tall—and dare I say, attractive blonde woman, who could be a “showgirl”. I mention this because I smiled when she was on “The Today Show” recently and she towered over her hosts. Not often is a Jewish comedian the “blonde amazon” in a group shot.


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