Jews in the News: Harrison Ford, Dr. Richard Besser and Ellen Barkin

At the Movies: Opening Friday, April 24

“Age of Adaline” is a romantic fantasy-drama. The title character (Blake Lively) was born in 1908 and twenty years later she’s in an accident that ‘magically’ stops her from aging. To avoid attention, she conceals her changing identities from all but her daughter (Ellen Burstyn). First forward to the present, and she meets a charming and handsome guy she might want to spend part of eternity with. HARRISON FORD, 72, has a big supporting role as a friend who knew her when he was young and is dumbfounded when he meets her again in the present. (Ford is still recovering from injuries suffered when he skillfully landed of a disabled 1942 plane on a golf course last month and had to pass-up the press junket for “Adaline”).

Fun note: the co-screenwriter, SALVADOR PASKOWITZ, 43, is the son of the late DORIAN ‘Doc’ PASSKOWITZ, the patriarch of a family of eleven (including nine kids) that were called “the first family of surfing.”  A Stanford-trained physician, who put on tefillin and prayed every day, “Doc” was the subject of many articles in the general and Jewish press until he died last November, age 93. He made many visits to Israel, alone and with his family.

“Little Boy” is a film about a 7-year-old boy who is very attached to his loving father (MICHAEL RAPAPORT, 45). WWII comes and his father enters the service. The boy wants more than anything to bring his father home safely. He relies on his Christian faith to perform a series of bigger and bigger miracles, but this isn’t an overtly Christian movie. Emma Watson and Tom Wilkinson co-star.

The I Didn’t Know That Corner

Back in 2004, TV and (now) web journalist Katie Couric revealed for the first time that her mother was Jewish, although she, herself, was raised Protestant. There was speculation that Couric disclosed her background because she was then engaged to TOM WERNER, now 65, a prominent TV show creator and executive. Well, her marriage to Werner never happened, but a curious friend just checked and, yes, Couric’s present spouse, investment banker JOHN MOLNER, 52, whom she wed last summer, is Jewish. This is Couric’s first marriage since she was widowed in 1997. Both Couric and Molner have children from their prior marriages.

In answer to a friend’s query, I confirmed that Dr. RICHARD BESSER, 56, the chief medical correspondent for ABC News, is Jewish. He formerly was acting director of the American Centers for Disease Control. While checking, I discovered that his brother, Dr. MITCH BESSER, 59, an OB-GYN very active in HIV prevention programs, has been married to famous singer Annie Lennox since 2012.  She was previously married to Israeli film producer URI FRUCTMANN, 60, and he’s the father of her two children.

On TV: “Happish”

“Happish”, a comedy/drama, premieres on Showtime on Sunday, April 26. The first episode will be posted to the Showtime site shortly after the premiere and you can watch it for free and decide to subscribe to Showtime, if you don’t already. The series was created by and is co-written by SHALOM AUSLANDER, 45, who grew up in Monsey, New York, a largely ultra-Orthodox (Jewish) town. He has published a collection of short stories and a critically praised memoir (“Foreskin’s Lament”) in which he chronicles his problems with strict Jewish practice and belief in God. Both he and his wife, ORLI, also originally from a religious Jewish home, are pretty much estranged from their respective families. However, unlike many apostates or quasi-apostates, Auslander still is connected to his general Jewish background and has chosen satirical humor ('think David Sedaris') and not nasty vitriol to express what annoys him about religious Jewish life and life in general.

The lead character of “Happyish” is Thom Payne (Steve Coogan), a 44-year-old advertising man whose happy life is thrown into disarray when his 25-year-old female boss arrives and he's made to feel like last year’s car model. It’s unclear from advance publicity whether Payne is supposed to be Jewish. However, a recent profile of actress Kathryn Hahn, who plays Lee, Thom’s wife, made it clear that Lee is a Jewish character—who grew up in a religious home and is now estranged from her family and her faith (very 'Auslanderish'). However, described in the profile was one scene in which Lee is trying to introduce her young son to the basics of Judaism.  Note: look for ELLEN BARKIN, 61, in a big recurring role as Dani Kirschenbloom, a headhunter who works closely with Thom and has a sardonic take on the dog-eat-dog world of advertising.

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