Jews in the News: Chuck Lorre, Dave Franco and Billy Crystal

At the Movies: Con-Women and Elderly Cheerleaders

“The Hustle” stars Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson as female scam artists who team-up, in the words of the publicity release, “to take down the dirty rotten men who have wronged them.”  TIM BLAKE NELSON, 54, has a large supporting role (“third billing”) as “Portnoy.” But there are no details out, yet, about his role. (Opens May 10)

The words “dirty rotten” may ring a cinematic bell for you. “The Hustle” is a female re-make of two prior movies. You may remember “Dirty Rotten Scoudrels”, a 1988 film in which Steve Martin and Michael Caine played con-men who team-up to fleece a rich heiress. You probably don’t know that “Scoundrels” was based on “Bedtime Story,” a 1964 movie in which Marlon Brando and David Niven were the con-artists.

The credited writers for “Hustle” include STANLEY SHAPIRO (1925-1990), an Oscar-winning writer who co-wrote both “Bedtime” and “Scoundrels”, and DALE LAUNER, 66, who co-wrote “Scoundrels.” Alone, Launer wrote the great comedy “My Cousin Vinnny.” The new “team” writer is JAC SCHAEFFER, 41, a woman who was hired to turn the funny con-men into con-women. Schaeffer’s father is Jewish.

I made a boo-boo in my last column. “POMS,” starring Diane Keaton as a retirement community resident who forms a senior cheerleading squad, opens on the 10th, not the 3rd as I wrote. RHEA PERLMAN, 71, co-stars.

Big Bang’s Final Blast: Long Heads Up

The series’ finale of the hit sit-com “Big Bang Theory” airs on Thursday, May 16 at 8PM (CBS). It’s a two-part, one hour show. I liked “Big Bang”, one of the most “Jewy” shows on TV. The show’s creator (CHUCK LORRE, 66) is Jewish, as are four of the main cast members (MAYIM BIALIK, 43, KEVIN SUSSMAN, 48, MELISSA RAUCH and SIMON HELBERG, both 38). I suspect that Raj, the Indian-American main character, will marry in one of series’ final episodes. If so, we will probably see Raj’s father, a recurring character. Raj’s father is played by BRIAN GEORGE, 66, who was born in Israel, the son of Indian/Iraqi Jewish parents.

Over on Netflix and One HBO Shout-Out

The 3rd and final 9-episode season of “Easy” begins on Netflix on May 10. It is a dramatic anthology series about characters’ whose stories are frequently interconnected. Three Jewish cast members have appeared in the first two seasons and return this season: DAVE FRANCO, 33, who plays Jeff; MARC MARON, 55, who plays Jacob; and AYA CASH, 36, who plays Sherri.

“Wine Country” is an original Netflix film that premieres on Friday, May 10.  It is a comedy/drama about six very different female friends who set out to sample new wines in the Napa Valley, but they end up re-examining and re-discovering their decades-long friendships. The actresses playing the friends include “SNL” veterans MAYA RUDOLPH, 46, RACHEL DRATCH, 53, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler (who also directed). Much of the movie was filmed in the Napa Valley in California and there are a lot of jokes about Napa, wine-tasting, and tasting menus. JASON SCHWARTZMAN, 38, appears in one of those tasting scenes.

Poehler told “The Wine Spectator” that the film is loosely based on an actual trip that she and some other women took to Napa. She said: "We did all get together for Rachel [Dratch]’s birthday one year in wine country. We did have dance parties in the living room and have kind of teary conversations in the hot tub, and go into the deep end as most female friendships do."

Last March, a 50th anniversary “Laugh-In” special was filmed, live, at a Los Angeles theater. The tape of the special will premiere on Netflix on May 14. Lily Tomlin will host and appear as two of her famous “Laugh-In” characters. Jewish stars appearing include BILLY CRYSTAL, 71, TIFFANY HADDISH, 39, BRAD GARRETT, 59, JON LOVITZ, 61, JEFF ROSS, 53, NATASHA LEGGERO, 45, and MICHAEL DOUGLAS, 74.

Also appearing on stage is GEORGE SCHLATTER, 88, the creator of “Laugh-In” and a co-producer of the 50th anniversary show. Schlatter grew-up near St. Louis, went to college in California, and then became a Hollywood agent. In the early ‘60s, he morphed into a producer of TV specials and series.  A journalist friend who recently did a phone interview with Schlatter told me that he sounded “really spry.”

Congrats to MIGUEL SAPOCHNIK, 44, for directing “The Long Night,” the spectacular “Game of Thrones” battle-heavy episode that premiered on Apr. 28. Sapochnik is the “GOT” go-to-guy for big battle episodes and I expect the episode that premieres May 12, which Sapochnik also directed, to be another action-laden “WOW”.


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