Jews in the News: Andy Samberg, Liza Weil and Ivanka Trump

Outrageous Casting of Biblical Proportions

“Of Kings and Prophets,” an ABC biblical series, starts on Monday, Mar. 8, at 8PM. The main characters include King SAUL and King DAVID. The producers say that it will have as much sex and violence as broadcast TV allows (but will be-- their words-- “tasteful”) and maybe some of the especially “hot” scenes will be in the on-line version only.

No doubt, many will object to the sex and violence, especially if, as in most biblical epics, it’s invented and not in the text of anyone’s Bible. What I object to more is that there isn’t a single lead Jewish actor in the series and it wasn’t filmed in Israel. Modern non-Jewish Brits didn’t look like ancient Hebrews, but six of the eleven big roles are played non-Jewish English actors.

“White-washing” is the term black actors have recently applied to roles that blacks should have or could have got that were given to white actors, instead. I would call the “Of Kings” casting—“WASP-washing”.

If there were any Jews in the cast, I wouldn’t quibble with the fact that a Muslim Lebanese actor plays JONATHAN, Saul’s son. I have a much more serious objection about the casting of Mohammed Bakri, an Israeli Muslim actor. He plays the prophet SAMUEL.

Yes, Jewish actors have played Muslims, but I don’t recall a Jew playing a Muslim after falsely accusing Muslims of massacring Jews. Bakri directed the so-called documentary “Jenin, Jenin” (2002). He procured demonstrably false interviews to support the claim that the Israeli army slaughtered hundreds of Palestinians living in the Jenin refugee camp. Even the hardly pro-Israel Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International concurred with the Israeli finding that about 53 residents were killed, two thirds of whom were combatants. 23 Israeli soldiers died in the raid, which followed Palestinian attacks on Israelis that originated in Jenin.

Could Be Funny and other TV News

Jorma Taccone, AKIVA SCHAFFER, 38, and ANDY SAMBERG, 37, three guys that met as teens, often work together under the collective name “Lonely Island.” Under this name, they created and are producing “Party Over Here,” a Fox comedy series that debuts on Saturday, March 12, at 11PM. It will skewer everything from pop culture to politics. It combines video comedy shorts along with sketches filmed before a live audience.

“The Gilmore Girls” ran from 2000-2007, a long time for any TV series and is still beloved by a generation of fans. In January, Netflix announced that it would revive the series. Now details are emerging: it will be shown in four 90-minute episodes, entitled “Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall”.

Virtually the entire original cast will return, including star Lauren Graham. Also returning are Jewish thespians LIZA WEIL, 38, and DANNY STRONG, 41. Weil will reprise her role as Paris Geller, a Jewish character. In real life, Weil has long been married to actor PAUL ADELSTEIN, 46 (he currently co- stars in the hit Bravo series, “Girlfriends Guide to Divorce”). Weil currently can be seen playing law assistant Bonnie Winterbottom in the ABC series “How to Get Away with Murder.”

Strong played Doyle McMaster, Geller’s sometime boyfriend. Since “Gilmore,” he’s gone on to a remarkably successful career as a writer, while taking an acting job now-and-again. Currently, he is best known as the co-creator of the TV show “Empire”, which he often writes and directs. He also wrote two great political films for HBO: “Recount” and “Game Change.”

Trump’s Jewish Outreach

 It’s well known that Donald Trump’s beautiful daughter, IVANKA TRUMP, 34, converted to Orthodox Judaism not long before marrying JARED KUSHNER, 35, the head of a big New York area real estate development company. They have two children and, as I write this, another is due any day. A friend just ‘dug out’ that “the Donald” has two more Jewish connections in his immediate family: (1) His oldest child, Donald Trump, Jr., 38, has been married to former model Vanessa Haydon, also 38, since 2005 and the couple has five kids. Haydon’s late father was Jewish (her mother, not). The couple was wed by Maryanne Trump Berry, a federal judge who is Donald’s sister. Haydon wore a cross on her wedding day, which reasonably makes me think she identifies as a Christian; and (2) IVANKA and Donald, Jr.’s half-sister, Tiffany Trump, 22, has been dating ROSS MECHANIC, 21, for several months. Both are Univ. of Pennsylvania students. Mechanic’s father, JONATHAN, is--you guessed it-- a biggie in New York real estate.


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