Jews in the News: Chelsea Handler, Lorne Michaels and Tiffany Haddish

Chimps, Cartoons, Chat, Kids, and Crime

The HBO special, “The Human Chimp”, premieres on April 29. In 1964, Univ. of Oklahoma psychologist MAURICE K. TEMERLIN (1924-1988), and his wife, Jane Whitbeck Temerlin, a clinical social worker, adopted a young chimpanzee who they named Lucy and raised her as one would raise a human child. At first, things went well. However, by the time a young grad student, Janis Carter, was hired (1976) by the Temerlins, the experiment had turned sour. Lucy was considered unpredictable and dangerous. The Temerlins told Carter to just feed Lucy and clean up after her. Not much later, they asked Carter to accompany them, and Lucy, to a facility in Africa where chimps were trained to go back into the wild. Carter was supposed to be in Africa for a few days, but stayed on for a decade, helping Lucy and some other chimps.

 Carter, now 70, was extensively interviewed by the filmmaker. “The Hollywood Reporter”, which highly praised the film, does note that Maurice did express regrets about how he raised Lucy without contact with other chimps—and I will add that Maurice’s work on psychotherapy cults was highly praised and is still cited.

 Maurice Temerlin was born and raised in Oklahoma and he’s buried in a Jewish cemetery. Jane was Presbyterian and he was married in her church. Maurice’s brother, LIENER TEMERLIN (1928-2017), went a different way. He founded and led one of the biggest ad agencies in Texas and his obit is full of Jewish ‘stuff’ (his Jewish wife of 67 years, his shul, Jewish awards, etc.).

On a much lighter note, on April 29 HBO will begin streaming new “Looney Tunes” cartoons. The ten-episode season follows critically acclaimed new “Looney Tunes” cartoon releases on HBO in 2019 and 2020. I suspect that Jeff Bergman, who voices Elmer Fudd and other characters, is Jewish, but I haven’t confirmed that. However, BOB BERGEN, 57, who voices Porky the Pig, is definitely Jewish. In a 2014 interview, he discussed his one-man show, describing it as “the story of a nice Jewish boy who wanted to be Porky”. In the same interview, he related how, at age 14, he bluffed his way into a Hollywood studio and met his idol, MEL BLANC, who originated the Porky voice.

In another profile, he said that he told his mother, at age 5, that he wanted to voice Porky Pig, and his mother said, “You can’t voice Porky Pig, you’re Jewish.” (I guess she didn’t know that Blanc was Jewish). Bergen, a 3-time Emmy nominee, is a top voice actor for films and video games. He has been the voice of Porky, in cartoons and ads, since 1990.

“The Story of Late Night” is a six-part original CNN series (starts Sunday, May 2).  It’s about the history of late night talk shows. For whatever reason, there has never been a Jewish host of a “big ratings” late night talk show. However, CHELSEA HANDLER, 46, who had a “2nd tier” talk show, appears in the series. Also appearing is LORNE MICHAELS, 76, the creator of SNL and the producer of “Late Night”, now hosted by Seth Meyers.

 The second season of the revival of the popular ‘60s series, “Kids Say the Darndest Things”, will begin on CBS on Wednesday, May 5, at 8PM. Host TIFFANY HADDISH interviews kids from across the country. The show’s publicity says the children are “unrehearsed and unfiltered” and I have no info to the contrary. Haddish, 41, really does have the ability to coax “real” and often funny comments from the kids.

“Law & Order: Organized Crime” is the newest entry in the “L&O” franchise. The “backstory” began in a “cross-over episode”. The April 1 episode of “L&O SVU” featured the return to New York City of Detective Stabler (Chris Meloni). Stabler was a main “SVU” character from 1999-2011. While in New York, Stabler’s wife is killed in a car bombing. On April 8 (NBC, 10PM), “Organized Crime” began as a separate series. The “plan” is that each season will be presented in three, eight-episode ‘arcs’. The first season will see Stabler take on three organized crime “biggies”.

This “long arc stuff” is a departure from other “L&O” “franchise” shows. Perhaps because of that, for the first time Dick Wolf, the creator of the other “L&O” shows, enlisted two series co-creators. One is ILENE CHAIKEN, 63, the creator and main writer of “The L Word” and its current sequel, “L Word: Generation Q”. She wrote the second and third “Organized Crime” episodes. By the way, Wolf’s father was Jewish, but he was raised in his mother’s Catholic faith.


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