Jews in the News: Hannah Einbinder, Melaine Laurent and Alexandre Aja

2nd Generation Funny Women; French Jews Shine; and More

“Hacks” is a 10-episode dramedy series that premiered on HBO on May 13 (two episodes on 13th; followed by 2 episodes each Thursday for four weeks).

Jean Smart (“Designing Women”) plays Deborah Vance, a legendary Las Vegas comedian whose career is tanking. Nobody is hiring her to do stand-up comedy anymore. She’s reduced to promotional appearances, like store openings.

Vance hires Ava, a 25-year-old struggling comedy writer to freshen-up her act. In Hacks’ amusing trailer, it’s made clear that Vance has an imperious personality and a fierce tongue. So, Ava is in for “quite a ride.”

Ava is played by newcomer HANNAH EINBINDER, 26. She has quite a backstory: her mother is original “SNL” cast member LARAINE NEWMAN, 69. Her father is CHAD EINBINDER, 57, a little-known actor. Newman just wrote an autobiography. After I check it, I’ll know whether she’s still married to Mr. Einbinder (sources vary).

Hannah is a real-life stand-up comedian. In March 2020, she did a set on Stephen Colbert’s show just before production was shut-down (view on Youtube). She has a unique, arty stand-up style that is funny, if not hilarious. In another Youtube stand-up video, she referred to herself as Jewish in passing.

In 2003, Newman was profiled by the “Jewish Journal”. The granddaughter of a (Jewish) Arizona cattle rancher, Newman grew-up in a secular Jewish household in Beverly Hills. She told the “Journal” that it wasn’t until she enrolled her oldest daughter in Temple Isaiah’s pre-school (Los Angeles) that she joined a temple (Isaiah), learned Hebrew, and brought ritual home.

Newman has two daughters, the older one she referred to is SPIKE NEWMAN, 30 (Born Lena Einbinder). Spike, too, is an actress. Her current gig is her best: she’s a regular cast member (named “Water’s Shadow”) in the comedy series “Los Espookys” on HBO. The first season streamed in 2019. It was renewed, but a 2nd season hasn’t yet appeared.

“Oxygen”, an original Netflix film, began streaming on May 12. MELAINE LAURENT, 38, stars as woman suffering from severe memory loss as she wakes up inside of a cryogenic chamber. Trapped inside and rapidly losing oxygen, the key to her survival is remembering who she is. The movie is billed as an American-French production. But, as you’ll read, its largely a French Jewish production.

Laurent is a well-known and really good French Jewish actress. Her father, a voice actor, is an Ashkenazi Jew whose family originally was from Poland (her paternal grandfather died in the Holocaust). Laurent’s mother, a former ballerina, is of Tunisian Sephardi descent. Laurent is best known for her co-starring role in “Inglorious Basterds” (2010). She played Shosanna Dreyfus, a Parisian Jew who seeks revenge on the Nazis. Also, in 2010, she co-starred in “The Round Up” and “Beginners”. “Round Up” is a French film about the complicity of the French police in the Nazis’ round-up of Jews. In “Beginners”, a very good American film, she played the French Jewish girlfriend of an American who finds out his elderly father is gay and that his late mother hid her Jewish background (Christopher Plummer, who played the father, won the best actor Oscar for his performance).

“Oxygen”, which only has three actors, co-stars MATTHIEU AMALRIC, 55 (Amalric’s late mother was Jewish). He had a supporting role in “Munich” and co-starred as ‘the bad guy’, Dominic Greene, in the Bond flick “Quantum of Solace”. The film was directed by ALEXANDRE AJA, the son of an Algeria-born French Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother. Aja, 42, is a top horror/thriller filmmaker (“High Tension”, “The Hills Have Eyes”).

“The Woman in the Window” is a usual pandemic story: it was supposed to be in theaters long ago—that didn’t happen—and is now being released on Netflix (May 14). Amy Adams stars as an agoraphobic psychologist who makes friends with a neighbor. Then her neighbor disappears and she suspects foul play. The supporting cast includes JENNIFER JASON LEIGH, 58, WYATT RUSSELL, 34 (GOLDIE HAWN’S son), and “hot newcomer” FRED HECHINGER, 20.

Hechinger, as I wrote before, had a biggish role in the 2020 Tom Hanks’ Western “News of the World”.

“Woman” is not Hechinger’s only premiere this week. He can be seen as the “young version” of the “main evil white guy”, Ridgeway, in the original Amazon series “The Underground Railway” (about slavery). It begins on the 14th, too. Also, he has a co-starring role in “White Lotus”, a limited HBO series that will air sometime this year.


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