Jews in the News: Anton Yelchin, Jason Alexander and Judd Apatow

A Bittersweet Movie Opening

Opening on Friday, March 9, is “Thoroughbreds.” It co-stars the late ANTON YELCHIN in his final film role. You may recall that Yelchin died in a freak car accident in June, 2016, age 27. At the time of his death, Yelchin was a well-established film actor. He’s probably best known for his role as Chekov in the “Star Trek” re-boot movies. “Thoroughbreds” is dedicated to Yelchin.

The film is a black comedy and quasi-thriller about Lily and Amanda, childhood friends in suburban Connecticut who re-connect when Amanda’s very wealthy mother hires Lily, a model student, to tutor Amanda for the SAT’s. Amanda has a sharp wit, but is almost a sociopath and starts to lure Lily into her nasty plans. They bond over Lily’s contempt for her oppressive stepfather. Yelchin plays Tim, a local hustler who the girls hire to do some dirty work for them. The film played numerous festivals and got good reviews.  A British reviewer said this about Yelchin’s performance: "[He] gives another twitchy, compelling turn that reminds us why he’ll be missed so much.”

TVish Doings

JASON ALEXANDER, 58 (“George” on “Seinfeld”) will guest star on the March 15th episode of the hit CBS series “Young Sheldon” (Thursday, 8:30). He’ll play Mr. Lundy, Medford High School’s resident drama teacher. Lundy is described as “boldly shepherding” Sheldon into the world of acting. Nice to note: Alexander and his (Jewish) wife, DAENA TITLE, have been married since 1981 and have two sons, GABRIEL, 27, and NOAH, 22.

The Netflix series, “Love,” a quirky romantic comedy with drama, will start streaming its entire 3rd and final season on Friday, March 9. The series was co-created by JUDD APATOW, 50, LESLEY ARFIN, 38, and Paul Rust, 36. I watched the first two seasons and its worth your time. Rust plays Gus, an aspiring script writer.  Based on looks alone, he shouldn’t be able to charm Mickey, a very attractive radio program manager.  It’s unstated, but it seems like Gus puts up with Mickey’s often bad behavior and abuse of alcohol and drugs because she’s a catch, looks-wise. She’s not a bimbo, but she is a handful.  Mickey appreciates Gus’s smarts, honesty, and kindness. In real life, Rust is married to Arfin, a pretty attractive woman who had an alcohol problem she’s written about (long sober).  Arfin was a writer for “Girls” before “Love.”  Gus, I should note, looks so stereo-typically Jewish (a dark-haired WOODY ALLEN type) that a couple of times Gus says he isn’t Jewish, but everyone thinks so. In a publicity round table last year, Rust told a favorite anecdote: The story of how he met Arfin. They were both at the same party, and Arfin asked SARAH SILVERMAN whether or not he was a member of the tribe. Silverman told her, “If he’s not, his face should sue God.”

 Maybe Everything Will Be Illuminated Eventually

NPR recently interviewed FRANKLIN FOER, 44, an Atlantic magazine staff writer. Foer appears to be the world’s leading expert on Paul Manafort (except for Rick Gates and maybe Robert Muller’s staff). In the cover story of the March issue of the Atlantic (you can it free read on-line), he traces Manafort’s life and career history. He describes how Manafort went from being a fairly normal domestic Republican political consultant to a guy who was widely perceived as “dirty” in most GOP circles even before he started working for shady, pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians and oligarchs. When asked how he got interested in Manafort, Foer replied that he went to the Ukraine several times in 2010 to assist his mother’s (fruitless) search for the non-Jewish Ukrainian who helped save her father’s life during the Holocaust and got interested in the country and Manafort. I checked and learned the Franklin is the brother of novelist JONATHAN FOER, 41, the author of “Everything is Illuminated” (2002). This famous novel is based on Jonathan’s trip to Ukraine in 1996. On impulse, he jumped on a plane to check out “family lore” about the woman who saved his grandfather. As in the novel, he didn’t find her. Still, I think that Robert Mueller’s staff probably found Franklin’s Manafort reportage illuminating and if not for the Foer family quest—that reporting wouldn’t exist.

Fun aside: Franklin is the co-author of “Jewish Jocks,” (2012) a good, insightful book on Jews in sports. LIEV SCHREIBER, 50, the director of the film version of “Everything is Illuminated,” is a big sports fan and has narrated sports documentaries as well as Holocaust documentaries. I guess everything is connected.


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