Jews in the News, Brad Garrett, Steven Spielberg & Joe Weider

The FX cable series, “The Americans,” premiered in late January to mixed to good reviews and FX has already renewed it for a second, 13 episode season. New shows air Wednesdays at 10PM and you can view already aired episodes on-line. The premise: in the early 1980s, the Soviet Union plants two KGB agents (Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys), who are also a married couple, in the Washington, D.C. area. They appear to be just regular Americans. The spies’ lives are complicated when a FBI counterintelligence expert moves in next door. He’s played by NOAH EMMERICH, 48.  Emmerich is one of those character actors most people recognize, but few know his name. He played Jim Carrey’s best buddy in “The Truman Show” and Patrick Wilson’s best friend in “Little Children.”


The series was created by JOE WEISBERG, 46. In 1989, while still a Yale Univ. student, he smuggled in goods to Soviet Jewish Refuseniks. In 1990, he joined the CIA and worked for the agency until 1994.


This month, Toronto resident JOREL HOFFERT is scheduled to have his bar mitzvah. In the words of the “Wall Street Journal”: “He conscripted his parents and grandparents to make a truly mind-blowing [bar mitzvah] video invitation, which has to be seen to be believed (and beloved).The video features young Hoffert throwing down serious East-West swag: Crooning a reskinned “Bohemian Rhapsody,” showing off serious air-guitar and actual-piano chops, and finishing off with an epic Gangnam-style finale. And the lyrics are hilarious, with lines like ‘I’m half a Jew/Learned Hebrew/I’m half Asian and proud of that too.’”


The video has got close to 500K views on Youtube. To see it: go to Youtube and search for “Jorel Rocks.”


3-D Dinosaurs


Opening on Friday, April 5, is a 3-D version of STEVEN SPIELBERG’s 1993 sci-fi blockbuster, “Jurassic Park.” Stars include JEFF GOLDBLUM, now 60; Laura Dern, 46 (whom Goldblum dated from 1995-97); and Sir Richard Attenborough, now 89.


Attenborough’s (non-Jewish) parents took in two young German Jewish refugee girls in 1939. They arrived in England on what was known as the “Kindertransport.” His parents adopted the girls after WWII when it became known that the girls’ parents had died in the Holocaust. These two girls, who Sir Richard and his brother, famous scientist David Attenborough, always considered their sisters, moved to the States after the war and lived with a blood uncle. Both were active members of the Jewish community until their recent deaths.


Dern, who has always favored making edgy, small-budget indie movies, recently told an interviewer that she agreed to do “Jurassic Park” for three reasons: “Spielberg, Spielberg, and Spielberg.” She added that she is grateful she did the film because it is one of her few films she feels comfortable watching with her young children.


Quite a Trio


Three well-known, if not super-famous Jews died in the last three weeks, and I was struck by how their careers reflect the diversity of Jewish talent. You can easily find longer bios on-line, but often their Jewish background isn’t mentioned. So, just in case you missed their deaths and/or the fact that they were Jewish—here they are—with apologies for not writing more about their interesting lives:


---Canadian JOE WEIDER died on Mar. 23, age 83. He was the creator of many of the top bodybuilding competitions, publisher of bodybuilding magazines, and seller of many nutritional supplements, including Tiger’s Milk products.


---ANTHONY LEWIS died on Mar. 25, age 85. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and NY Times columnist, he is credited with creating the field of legal journalism in the United States.


---MALACHI THRONE died on March 13, age 84. Crack character actor with scores of TV and movie roles, including “It Takes a Thief.” In 2009, he told an interviewer that he refused to change his Jewish first name even though his agent warned him he would only get parts “playing Jews and Indians.” He said he didn’t regret turning down the role of Dr. McCoy on “Star Trek” (he wanted the Spock role) and was happy to be one of the few actors to guest-star on both the original “Trek” and on “Next Generation.” 


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