Jews in the News: Bette Midler, Aaron Spelling and Steven Spielberg

At the Movies: Opening October 11

“Gemini Man” is an action thriller starring Will Smith as an elite assassin who is being tailed by a young, very adept assassin. The film was co-written by Darren Lemke, DAVID BENIOFF, 40 (“Game of Thrones” writer/producer) and BILLY RAY, 48 (“Hunger Games”).

“The King” is a Netflix film (first in theaters) that stars TIMOTHEE CHALAMET, 23, as Henry V of England (1386-1422). Henry was a reluctant heir. But after his tyrannical father died, he learned how to manage palace politics and lead his army to victories. You may, of course, recognize his name from the Shakespeare play, “Henry V”. Here’s an oft quoted part of a pre-battle speech that Shakespeare’s Henry V gave to his troops: “From this day to the ending of the world…We in it [the battle]  shall be remembered--We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me; Shall be my brother.”

 “The Addams Family” is animated film about the famous spooky (and funny) family. NICK KROLL, 41, voices Uncle Fester (Gomez Adams’ brother) and BETTE MIDLER, 73, voices Grandmama, Gomez and Fester’s mother.

 If the new version of the “Addams Family” prompts you to re-visit the two 1990s “Addams Family” feature films, and the ‘60s TV series, here are a couple of fun Jewish facts to know and tell: (1) The role of Grandmama in the “Addams” movies was played by JUDITH MALINA (1926-2015). She was most famous as the co-founder and co-director of the avant-garde “Living Theater” company. Her husband, JULIAN BECK (1925-1988), was the other co-founder and director. Late in life, she took some non-stage acting roles, with the “Addams” movies being among the first and (2) Carolyn Jones (1930-1980), who played Morticia Addams in the TV show, converted to Judaism when she married producer AARON SPELLING (1923-2005) in 1953. They divorced in 1964 (they had no children). A well-written biography says that Jones really followed no religion after the divorce. It’s nice to note, however, that when she contracted terminal cancer, and had limited funds, she contacted Spelling and he acted like a mensch: he gave her money and he paid for an expensive experimental treatment for her cancer.

 TV/Streaming Offerings: An Update and More New Shows of Interest

 I was just advised that there is another Jewish actor with a leading part in “The Politician”, a new Netflix series (first season released on Sept. 27). That new actor is DAVID CORENSWET, 26. As I previously wrote, the series stars BEN PLATT, 27, as Payton Hobart, a California rich kid, and each season covers an election that Hobart runs-in. The first season features Hobart running for class president against Rivers Berkeley (Corenswet). A family history maven friend dug-out that David’s father, JOHN CORENSWET, was from an old Southern Jewish family. Sadly, John died this year and his funeral was at a New Orleans temple. David’s mother, a native New Yorker, isn’t Jewish. My friend referred me to an on-line picture caption in which David seems to identify himself as Jewish. “Politician” is Corenswet’s first big role.

 There is a shocker embedded in the new CW series “Batwoman” (started Oct. 6 at 8PM). In recent comics about Batwoman she is identified as Kat Kane, a cousin of Bruce Wayne (Batman) and she is a lesbian and she’s Jewish! Well, CW did the right thing and the TV Batwoman is “still” Jewish and a lesbian. She’s played by Australian actress Ruby Rose, who really is a lesbian, but she’s not Jewish.

 Humorist ANDY BOROWITZ, 61, is the host of “Retro Report on PBS”. It will air on Mondays and Tuesdays, Oct. 7-29 at 9PM. The program will cover past events. Surprising historical roots will be uncovered and widely believed myths debunked.

PAUL RUDD, 50, stars in the Netflix series “Living With Yourself” (first season released on Oct. 16), as a man burnt out on life who undergoes a mysterious treatment only to find out that he’s been replaced by a man better than himself.

“Why We Hate” is a six-part documentary series on the Discovery channel that begins on October 13 (10PM). Co-produced by STEVEN SPIELBERG, 72, and Oscar-winning documentary maker Alex Gibney, the series publicity describes its mission: “Why We Hate explores one of humanity's most primal and destructive emotions - hate. At the heart of this timely series is the notion that if people begin to understand their own minds, they can find ways to work against hate and keep it from spreading.”


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