Jews in the News: Ben Feldman, Lauren Cohan and Dan Mazer

New TV Shows and Jewish Stars of Commercials (with character names!)

Here’s one I should have noted before now: The NBC comedy series “Superstore” debuted at the end of November. Its mostly about the woes of the staff of a Walmart type store and, while its not fall down funny, its not bad at all. The cast helps a lot---it stars the talented America Ferrera, and co-stars BEN FELDMAN, 36, as a harried new hire. Feldman has an eclectic group of credits, including: the lead in Broadway theater version of “The Graduate”; an arc of episodes on “Mad Men”; and a starring role in the short-lived 2014-15 NBC comedy, “A to Z”. He grew-up in a religious home and his mother’s sister, SUSAN FENIGER, 60ish, is a pretty famous Los Angeles restaurant owner as well as the former host of the Food Network series, “Too Hot Tamales.”

Starting on Thursday, Jan. 21, at 8PM is the new CW series “Legends of Tomorrow”. The complex series premise begins with (character) Rip Hunter going back in time and assembling a team of superheroes to battle a super-bad guy called “the Vandal Savage”. (The late JACOB ‘Jack’ Miller created the Rip Hunter character in a 1959 DC comic). The new series co-stars VICTOR GARBER, 66, as Dr. Martin Stein, a physicist who also is sometimes a super-hero.

You probably noticed that AT&T decided about six months ago to give a “face” to the ads featuring their products. Progressive Insurance has long featured “Flo”, hawking their policies and AT&T now has a perky saleswoman talking to customers in their stores. The AT&T saleswoman, identified in some ads as “Lily Adams,” is played by MILANA VAYNTRUB, 28. She has a somewhat exotic background: she was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, which was then part of the Soviet Union. Her parents moved to Los Angeles when she was three and she began acting very young because her parents, she frankly says, needed the income. She’s had roles since 1997, but the AT&T ads have to be her most seen and most lucrative part. Maybe it will lead to bigger things.

In the run-up to the New Year, there was a new spate of Dos Equis beer ads, featuring “the most interesting man in the world.” The line I liked most: “His fortune cookies simply read—'Congratulations'". I’ve noted before that American Jewish actor JONATHAN GOLDSMITH, 77, plays the “most interesting man”. But I just learned that he earns the very interesting sum of $1million a year for ads in which he only has to speak one line: “Stay thirsty, my friends”. This recently came out when he had a financial dispute with his former agent, who is thirsty for his share of the million.

At the Movies: Opening Friday, January 22

LAUREN COHAN, 34, is best known for her role as Maggie Green, the very pretty farmer’s daughter, on the mega-hit series “The Walking Dead.” She continues in the horror genre in the new film, “The Boy”. She plays Greta, a young American woman who takes a job as a nanny in a remote English village, only to discover that the family’s 8-year-old is a life sized doll that the parents care for just like a real boy, as a way to cope with their real son’s death 20 years prior.

Cohan’s unusual Anglo-American background might have led to her casting: she was born in Cherry Hill, New Jersey to non-Jewish English parents. Her parents divorced not long after her birth and her mother re-married an American Jew. Her mother converted to Judaism, as did Cohan (age 5), and she had a bat mitzvah. (She uses her stepfather’s last name, Cohan, but it is unclear if she was legally adopted by him.) Lauren’s mother and stepfather moved to the UK when she 13 and she lived there, full time, until she finished college. Cohan’s very ‘toned’ and so its not a surprise that she’s on the cover of the current (Dec/Jan) issue of “Shape” magazine. Inside there are more pics and an article about her diet/work-out routines. Also viewable on the magazine’s website.

Another British Jew, DAN MAZER, 44, is the director of the comedy, “Dirty Grandpa.” Mazer’s best known for being the co-writer of SACHA BARON COHEN’s “Ali G” and “Borat” films. Zac Efron (whose paternal grandpa was Jewish) plays Jason, an attorney who is on the cusp of marrying his boss’s daughter (ZOEY DEUTCH, 21) and thereby getting fast-tracked to a partnership. However, he’s tricked into driving his foul-mouthed grandpa (Robert DeNiro) to Daytona for spring break and the hijinks grandpa gets him into endangers his career future. ADAM PALLY, 33 (“The Mindy Project”), has a supporting role.


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