Jews in the News: Camryn Manheim, Andrew Garfield and Julianne Margulies

Law and Order (the Original!) Returns, The SAG Awards

The original “Law and Order” series ran from 1990-2010 and spanned several “spin-offs”, including “Law and Order; SVU”. A “re-boot” of the original series premieres on NBC on Feb. 24 (8PM). Sam Waterston is returning as Jack McCoy, Manhattan’s (head) District Attorney. He played that role for the last three seasons of the original. Before his promotion, McCoy was the top asst. district attorney for 12 seasons

Fans will recall that McCoy worked, for five seasons, under Adam Schiff, the (Jewish) Manhattan District Attorney. Schiff was played by the late STEVEN HILL, an Orthodox Jew. The beautifully acted and well-written interplay between Schiff and McCoy was one of the highlights of the original series.

In the reboot, the top asst. D.A.’s are played by Hugh Dancy and ODELYA HALEVI, 30ish. Halevi was born and raised in Israel, the grandchild of Yemeni Jewish immigrants. After a year of military service, she moved to the States, age 19. She’s had many small roles. Her “Law and Order” reboot role is a huge career break.

CAMRYN MANHEIM, 60, a veteran well-known actress, has snared a plum role as Kate Dixon, the detective in charge of the whole police squad room.

Manheim was born in New Jersey, but frequently moved during her youth because her father, a math professor, changed jobs several times. Her family finally settled in California when she was 12. In a 2019 “Jewish Journal” interview, she said that her parents were “liberal, cultural Jews” and that she had visited Israel.

The actress also told the “Journal” that she tried to raise her son, MILO MANHEIM, now 21, as a “mensch”. Milo, who is her only child, had a bar mitzvah. He is now trying to build an acting career.

Camryn Manheim’s big career break came when she got a co-starring role as attorney Eleanor Pruitt on “The Practice”, which ran from 1997-2004.She won an Emmy for this role and has received two other Emmy noms.

Manheim has “police experience”. She had a big supporting role in the ABC series “Stumptown” as an Oregon police lieutenant. The series got good reviews and pretty good ratings. A few months after being renewed (May 2020) for a second season, it was cancelled due to pandemic-related filming problems.  Manheim probably got lucky: the cancellation meant that she was available for a bigger part in “Law and Order”.

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards will be held on Feb. 27 (TNT and TBS, 8PM). Most of the awards are for an “ensemble cast”. I’ve previously mentioned, in this column, the Jewish cast members in these films or series. So, I will list, here, just a few nominees.

ANDREW GARFIELD, 38, is nominated for “best actor” for playing composer JONATHAN LARSON in “tick, tick…Boom”. He is Oscar-nominated for the same role. MICHAEL DOUGLAS, 77 (“The Kominsky Method”) and BRETT GOLDSTEIN, 41 (“Ted Lasso”), compete for the best actor in a comedy series award.

Until recently, I didn’t have an Apple+ subscription so I didn’t write much about “The “Morning Show”, an Apple + series about a network morning news program. Its cast is SAG-nominated for “best cast ensemble” (drama series). The nominated cast includes JULIANNE MARGULIES, 55. Her character, Laura Peterson, is an openly gay, top newscaster. Peterson, a major character, first appeared in the second season.

“The Morning Show” got so/so reviews when it began and I was surprised that it was a lot better than first reviews said. Apple+ doles out its series—one episode a week. But “The Morning Show” benefits, I think, from binge watching. As you may know, the show begins with a sexual harassment scandal involving Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell), the Morning Show co-anchor. It was very “satisfying” to see the whole arc of the scandal, as I did, as I binge watched the series.

Spoiler alert: Kessler’s “fate” was “resolved” in the first two seasons, but another “mystery” never got solved. Mitch Kessler sounds like a Jewish name—but we never learn if he Jewish or not.

Even more annoying—Kessler’s co-anchor is Alexandra “Alex” Levy (Jennifer Aniston). Is Alex, Jewish? If not, how did she get this last name?  I am still waiting for an answer.

Why did the writers give Levy such a “Jewish name” if they don’t ever give us her “backstory”?  I guess I will have to chalk it up as another entry in the long history of American TV series in which writers provide “clues” that a character is Jewish, but—for “marketing reasons”—“Jewishness” is never made explicit. Fey!


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