Jews in the News: Andy Samberg, Gene Simmons and Jeff Tweedy

The Lowdown on Fox News/Miranda Guest Stars

The documentary “Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes” played a limited number of theaters last year and garnered mostly good reviews. It will premiere on TV on Sunday, March 3 (A&E cable, 8PM. Many encore showings).  Ailes became head of Fox News when it started in 1996 and he remained head of the controversial conservative news outlet until he was fired in 2016 following many accusations of sexual harassment. He died in 2017. The documentary traces his life, which included being a media advisor to Presidents Nixon and Reagan. Ailes was the dominant force in creating the Fox News “us against them” sensibility.

The documentary was made by ALEXIS BLOOM, 43. Born in South Africa, she moved to England in 1988 for her secondary and college education. She earned two degrees from prestigious Cambridge University. Bloom moved to the States in 2000, working first as a journalist and, later, a documentary maker.  Her long-time romantic and creative partner is actor/director FISHER STEVENS, 55. They have two young children and wed in 2017. Stevens and Bloom, together, made the critically acclaimed 2016 HBO documentary “Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds”. It aired just weeks after the sudden “back-to-back” deaths of FISHER and Reynolds.

“Hamilton” star Lin Manuel Miranda will guest star on “Brooklyn Nine Nine”, the police sit-com that stars ANDY SAMBERG, 40. His episode will air on March 7 on NBC at 9PM. DAN GOOR, 43 , the show’s co-creator, is “rewarding” Miranda for joining other celebs in protesting the series’ cancellation, last year, by Fox (it was picked-up by NBC).

Running in His Underwear in St. Louis

If you know PETER SAGAL, 53, it is probably because you have caught him hosting his NPR show, “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!”.  “Wait, Wait”, a show that combines humor with quiz questions about current events, is one of the most popular shows on NPR. About 3 million listen every week. Sagal was a panelist when the show began in 1998. The original host didn’t work out, and after a few months, Sagal took his place as host. Much of the show’s success is based on Sagal’s wit and informed commentary. 

An avid runner, Sagal explores his relationship to running in his now best-selling book, “The Incomplete Guide to Running” (2018). Depressed about his weight, he began running with his dad when he was 15. If you enjoy the book excerpt on the website “Literary Hub”, you may want to buy the book. It’s entitled: “I Got Divorced: And Then I Ran a Mile in My Underwear.” Sagal wryly relates how, quite improbably, he found himself running, on a cold February morning, in the Fourth Annual St. Louis Cupid’s Undie Run. Nice to note: Sagal is a practicing Jew and one of his brothers is a rabbi. Just “Google” the title, above, and Peter Sagal, and you’ll find the excerpt.

Eclectic Musical Notes

GENE SIMMONS, 69, the famous frontman of the band “Kiss”, has been hitting the publicity circuit to promote his new book, “27: “The Legend & Mythology of the 27 Club.” His book is about famous rockers (Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, and others) who died at age 27 after years of drug abuse. Simmons says that he explores their lives without romanticizing them.

Simmons told the “L.A. Times” that he thinks he’s a success because he has never drunk alcohol or used drugs. What’s the reason for his sobriety? Simmons explained that his mother, who died last December, age 93, was a Holocaust survivor and that he couldn’t put her through the pain of her only child using drugs.

Congrats to JACK ANTONOFF, 34, who recently won a Grammy for best rock song (no, it wasn’t presented on TV). The song is “Masseducation”. The song was co-written by singer St. Vincent (AKA Annie Clarke) and Jack shared the Grammy with her.  Antonoff is a graduate of Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County, N.J. He’s previously won three Grammys--- 2013: best new artist and song of the year (“We are Young”); and 2016: album of the year (“1989”).

JEFF TWEEDY, 54, is the lead vocalist of the famous alternative rock band Wilco. He also plays rhythm guitar and writes or co-writes many of the band’s songs. In his 2018 autobiography, now getting attention in Jewish community media, he noted that he recently converted to Judaism. Tweedy’s wife of 28 years, SUE MILLER, is Jewish and his two sons were raised Jewish and had a bar mitzvah.


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