Jews in the News: George Segal, James Franco and Matt Lauder

The Goldbergs New Hanukkah Episode


The title family of “The Goldbergs” TV show didn’t “come out” as Jewish until a Hanukkah episode in 2015 (the 57th series episode.) It was sort of worth the wait because this well-written episode cogently explored the problems of being Jewish during the Christmas season deluge. Hanukkah is at the center of the new “Goldbergs” episode airing on Wednesday, Dec. 13 (8PM, ABC). Main plot: A competition arises as to who will throw the best Hanukkah party. There’s a sub-plot involving Pops (GEORGE SEGAL, 83) advising his grandson to become popular by entering a school talent show and then realizing the boy can’t sing.


A Pretty Good Movie about a Bad Movie

The Disaster Artist” depicts the early friendship of Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau, the actors behind the 2003 cult film “The Room.” “Room” is often hailed as the “Citizen Kane” of bad movies. “Disaster” follows the troubled making of “The Room” and Sestero and Wiseau’s respective careers after the surprising success of the film. (Opens Dec. 8)

JAMES FRANCO, 39, directed “Artist” and he plays Wiseau. His brother, DAVE FRANCO, 32, plays Sestero. Appearing in major supporting roles are SETH ROGEN, 35, ALISON BRIE, 34 (Dave Franco’s real-life wife), and ARI GRAYNOR, 34 (“I’m Dying up Here” on HBO). Advance reviews are mostly very positive. Still, this is a quirky movie about a quirky movie, so its not for all.


Thank the Lord He Abdicated

The 2nd season of “The Crown” will begin streaming on Friday, Dec. 8 on Netflix. The 1st season was criticized by some for depicting Edward VIII, who abdicated in 1936 to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, as a rather benign figure. In October, there was a panel discussion of British history experts who had seen season 2. They disclosed that a 2nd season episode will focus on Edward’s dealings with the Nazis after he abdicated. This episode uses recently released official papers that show how deeply Edward and Wallis were connected to the Nazis and how disparaging Edward was of his brother, Elizabeth’s father, who had to take the a throne he was ill-prepared for when Edward abdicated.

Knowing all this, you can understand why the rest of the British royal family was so cold towards Edward and Wallis for decades after the abdication. Their anger was about much more than an “inappropriate” marriage.  By the way, Edward frequently made anti-Semitic remarks and blamed the war on “Roosevelt and the Jews.” (In depth: view “Edward: The Nazi King” documentary on Netflix).

I suspected that “Crown” creator PETER MORGAN, 54, who writes most of the scripts, wouldn’t let Edward off the hook. His late father, ARTHUR MORGENTHAU, was a German Jew who fled the Nazis (his mother was a Polish Catholic woman who fled the Soviets).

Sad to say: Princess Margaret’s husband, Anthony Armstrong-Jones, is revealed to be a bigoted, cruel bully. “The Crown” shows him leaving her nasty notes, including one that read: “You look like a Jewish manicurist and I hate you.”


Briefly Noted Odds and Ends

This year’s “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions ended with a very exciting finale on Nov. 17 as AUSTIN “Buzzy” COHEN, 32, won, coming from way behind in the second half of the show. A music company executive, his father-in-law is MOSHE LEVIN, a beloved, recently retired San Francisco rabbi. Levin told the San Francisco Jewish paper: “I always knew he was smart and funny, but didn’t know he was that smart and funny.”

Well, even the NY Times and USA Today fell for widespread internet mis-information that Meghan Markle, now the fiancée of Prince Harry, has a Jewish father. The Times corrected itself (Nov. 28) the same day as they made their mistake.  Her correct religious background, as related in the Times’ correction, is this: born Protestant (but not baptized), she went to a Catholic girls’ school and intends to be baptized into the Church of England before marrying Harry. Her father is of varied European ancestry, including German and Irish (but not Jewish). Her mother is African-American. I suspect the “Jewish story” originated in the fact that her ex-husband, TREVOR ENGELSON, is Jewish and their wedding, reports said, contained “Jewish elements.”

Readers wonder, I know: so here’s the background of just a few of the celebs recently fired or suspended for sexual harassment: Charlie Rose isn’t Jewish; NY Times reporter GLENN THRUSH is, and MATT LAUER is the son of a Jewish father/non-Jewish mother. He wasn’t raised in any faith.


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