Jews in the News: Hank Greenberg, Kyra Sedgwick and Elliot Gould

At the Movies: Opens September 29

“American Made” stars Tom Cruise as the real-life Barry Seal, a hustler and pilot that the CIA recruited to run a huge covert operation in the 1980s involving drugs and guns. LOLA KIRKE, 26, has a large supporting role as the wife of a suspicious Arkansas sheriff. The director is DOUG LIMAN, 52, who directed Cruise in the hit “Edge of Tomorrow” (2014).

“Battle of the Sexes” tells the back story of the famous 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell) that over 90 million people watched. The American tennis old guard finally accepted pros in the big events in the late ‘60s, but most of the tournament prize money went to male players despite the fact that women players drew almost as many fans. In 1970, King became an icon for equality when she and eight other players set up the first women’s pro tour. Among the eight was JULIE HELDMAN, now 71, a top player in the early ‘70s. Her mother, GLADYS HELDMAN (1922-2003), is played in the film by SARAH SILVERMAN, 45. Gladys was a talented amateur player and tennis magazine publisher who was critical to the founding of the women’s tour.

I’m sure the film won’t go much into the “Jewish angle” but here’s a Jewish sidelight I found interesting. In 1962, most tennis stars wouldn’t even come to the U.S. Open because they made more money in Europe. Officials called Gladys for help. She financed, mostly via rich friends, a charter flight to New York for the players and got them places to stay in New York. The big stars sold a lot of U.S. Open tickets and through those sales Gladys and her friends were paid back. Shortly thereafter, Open officials stopped dealing with Gladys. Why?  Julie Heldman has an answer: "She [Gladys] was pushy and full of ideas. Also Jewish."

Riggs, 55 at the time of the match, was a tennis champ in his youth. He was 40 and broke when Hall of Fame baseball player HANK GREENBERG, a friend of Riggs, suggested he play rich guys in “hustle” matches—Riggs would give the rich guy some edge and Riggs and his opponent would bet on the outcome. Riggs took Greenberg’s advice. His biggest hustle was challenging top women players, 20 or more years younger, to a singles match. After one star woman player lost to Riggs, King felt she had to play Riggs to restore the credibility of women’s tennis and the famous match was on.

The documentary “Supergirl” will be released on Sept. 28 (DVD and on-demand services including Amazon, Itunes, and Vudu). It centers on NAOMI KUTIN,15, a Modern Orthodox New Jersey girl. When Naomi was 9, she was the subject of a “Forward” article which explained that she was already breaking records in her weight class for power weightlifting. Filmmaker JESSIE AURITT read the article and then followed Naomi and her family for the next five years.  We see how Naomi balanced her hard training (she’s coached by her father, who gave her the nickname “Supergirl”) with the demands of her faith (no meets on Shabbos; going to yeshiva; having her bat mitzvah). This film was highly praised when it played Sundance and many other festivals.

New TV Show Hebrews

“Wisdom of the Crowd” is a drama that starts on CBS on Sunday, Oct. 1 at 8:30PM. JEREMY PIVEN, 52, stars as Jeffrey Tanner, a visionary Silicon Valley tech innovator who creates a cutting-edge crowdsourcing app to solve his daughter’s murder. Inspired by the notion that a million minds are better than one, Tanner develops “Sophe,” an online platform for publicly shared information he’s certain will find his daughter’s killer.  “Ten Days in the Valley” is an ABC mystery series that begins on Oct. 1 (10PM). KYRA SEDGWICK, 52, stars as Jane Sadler, a TV producer whose life gets complicated after her young daughter disappears in the middle of the night.

“9JKL” is a sit-com that starts on CBS on Oct. 2 and new episodes air on Mondays at 8:30PM.  It was created by MARK FEURSTEIN, 46 (“Royal Pains”) and his wife, DANA KLEIN, 43, and is loosely based on their real lives. In real life, Feuerstein and Klein lived next door to his family. In the series, Feuerstein plays Josh Roberts, a divorced actor who lives in apt. 9K, with his parents, brother, and sister-in-law living in adjacent apts. ELLIOT GOULD and LINDA LAVIN, both 79, co-star as Roberts’ parents.


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