Jews in the News: Harrison Ford, Daniel Radcliffe and Alex Raben

At the Movies: Opening Friday, July 1

There’s really good “buzz” around the new STEVEN SPIELBERG film “BFG”. The basic plot: a girl named Sophie encounters the (monstrous looking) Big Friendly Giant. He turns out to be a kindhearted soul who is not liked by the other giants because, unlike them, he refuses to eat children. The screenplay, from a Roald Dahl novel, is by Melissa Mathison, who died of cancer, age 65, last year. The film is dedicated to her. Mathison and her ex-husband, HARRISON FORD, 73, had two children together.  She co-wrote (with Spielberg, now 69), his children’s fantasy masterpiece, “E.T.” (Opens Friday, July 1)

If the usually-reliable Variety review is correct; the film “Swiss Army Man”, co-starring DANIEL RADCLIFFE, 26, has some brilliant parts, but doesn’t work in large stretches. It’s a surrealistic comedy-drama. Paul Dano plays Hank, a guy stranded on a desert island. A corpse (Radcliffe) named Manny washes on-shore and the corpse and Hank form an unusual friendship. Even though he’s dead, Manny has the ability to talk and possesses many supernatural powers.

TV News and Notes

The ninth episode (“Battle of the Bastards”) of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” aired on June 19, and fans and critics raved about the episode and especially the way in which it’s almost non-stop action was directed. The battle scenes were better than in most feature films—and most battle scenes don’t have to seamlessly work in computer-generated flying dragons and a mega-giant warrior. The episode was directed by MIGUEL ROSENBERG-SAPOCHNIK, 35ish. He also directed this season’s finale, which has not aired yet as I write this. Last season, he directed two episodes, including episode 8 (“Hardhome”). That’s the episode that featured the epic battle in which Jon Snow and the Wildings fought the white walker leader and his zombie-esque army of the dead. It was hailed as one of the best episodes in the series and the action sequences, in particular, were brilliantly staged. Sapochnik says he viewed thousands of hours of real-life and dramatized battle footage to prepare for the “Battle of the Bastards” episode, which took a month to film.

Sapochnik’s family line is on an ancestry site, courtesy of a relative. But curiously, his exact age is not listed (he’s about 35). It’s clear his ancestors, on both sides, are Eastern European Jews who settled in Argentina in the late 19th or very early 20th century. The director, himself, appears to have been born in England and he was certainly raised in the U.K. Of one thing I am certain---talented directors of action sequences are in high demand and expect him to get mucho offers to direct big-budget action films.

Sapochnik’s wife of eight years is actress ALEXIS RABEN, 35. She was born in Moscow, but raised in the States and is a Wesleyan University graduate. She’s hasn’t landed a big role, yet.

The Bravo scripted series, “Odd Mom, Out,” got pretty good reviews when it started in June, 2015. JILL KARGMAN, 41, stars as Jill Weber, a Jewish woman who marries into a rich WASP family and lives on the swanky Upper East Side of Manhattan. She’s a stay-at-home mother with three kids and her husband is an attorney. Kargman, too, grew-up on the East Side and has three kids. However, unlike her fictional character---Kargman is very active outside the home (columnist, novelist, actress)—and unlike her character, her husband, HARRY KARGMAN, 42, is Jewish. 

Jill Kargman certainly knows her show’s “rich and fashionable” milieu—her father, ARIE KOPELMAN, 77, was formerly head of Chanel, and her mother, COCO FRANCO KOPELMAN, 77ish, is a celebrated East Side fundraiser. Coco, who is of Greek Sephardi background, is reportedly very funny, charming, and “knows everybody”. Jill’s brother, WILL KOPELMAN, 38, is a fine art consultant. He married actress Drew Barrymore in 2012 in a Reform Jewish ceremony. The couple quickly had two daughters before splitting up this past April. Jill Kargman recently told an interviewer that she’s still great friends with Barrymore and that her two young nieces were being raised Jewish.

Barrymore will appear as a guest star this season on “Odd Man Out” (episode first airing July 25). She’ll play a “really crazy mom”. However, right now look for encore showings of the second episode (“Fast and Fruious”) of this season (first aired June 27). Jill Weber’s parents come to NYC to observe Yom Kippur. Jewish content like this is not unusual—in the series’ very first episode, Jill Weber wore a t-shirt that said: “Chai Maintenance”.


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