Jews in the News: Harvey Keitel, Judd Hirsch and Robert Kraft

Oy, Could Have Been a Contender

During his long career, Robert DeNiro, 73, has credibly played two Jewish gangsters, a Jewish film mogul, and a Jewish boxing manager. He proved he could do stand-up comedy in the acclaimed film “King of Comedy” (1982). So, I was hoping his new film, “The Comedian,” would be a little gem. But, advance reviews aren’t good. I recommend that you rent it eventually for the mucho Jewish content. DeNiro plays Jackie Berkowitz, a Jewish comic who is trying to get stand-up and internet audiences to like him for his new routines, and not just remember him for an iconic TV character he once played. He loses his temper during a performance and accosts an audience member and is sentenced to community service. There he meets Harmony Schlitz (played by Leslie Mann, 44, the wife of JUDD APATOW and an Apatow film regular). Harmony is a free spirit who just assaulted her ex-husband. HARVEY KEITEL, 77, who made his first film with DeNiro in 1973, plays Harmony’s father, a Jewish real estate mogul who bonds with Jackie. (Opens Friday, Feb. 3)

All this sounds good, but reviews say that the comedy, stand-up or otherwise, falls flat or worse and the relationship between Harmony and Jackie veers from a healthy father-daughter type thing into creepy romantic tension. (Look for CHARLES GRODIN, 81, and GILBERT GOTTFRIED, 61, in large supporting roles and for BILLY CRYSTAL, 68, who appears in a cameo as himself.)

New on TV

CBS special premieres its new sit-com, “Superior Donuts,” on Feb. 2 at 8:30PM. But, after that, it moves to its regular time: Mondays, at 9PM. It stars JUDD HIRSCH, 81, as Arthur, a former ‘60s radical who owns a donut shop in a gentrifying area of Chicago. Most of the series is about how Arthur interacts with a young African-American man he hires as his assistant. There’s also a lot of comedic and dramatic “schtick” with the shop’s very varied patrons. KATEY SAGAL, 63, is a series regular, playing a local police officer.

Over on Fox, there’s the drama, “A.P.B.", which starts on Monday, Feb. 6, at 9PM.  The basic plot: Gordon Reeves (JUSTIN KIRK, 47) is a high tech billionaire who witnesses his best friend’s murder in Chicago and he convinces the mayor and city council to allow him to takes over the police force in a troubled district where the murder took place and re-boot it as a private police force. Kirk, whose mother is Jewish, is probably best known for playing the Jewish character Andy Botwin on “Weeds,” the long-running Showtime series.

Some Super Bowl Notes

Last year, I wrote a special article for some Jewish newspapes about the Jewish players who appeared in the first 50 years of the Super Bowl. I noted that  NATE EBNER, now 28, was (and is) a very good New England Patriots special teams player who appeared in the 2015 Super Bowl and that Julian Edelman, now 30, a star Patriots wide receiver, played in the same Super Bowl. About Edelman, I wrote, in part: “..of his eight great-grandparents, only his paternal great-grandfather was Jewish.. Still, …Edelman has called himself Jewish, he’s visited Israel and, for the last two years, he’s attended Yom Kippur services.”

Both owners of the 2017 Super Bowl-bound teams are Jewish (ROBERT KRAFT, Patriots, and ARTHUR BLANK, Atlanta Falcons). I was curious whether Blank, 74, who co-founded Home Depot, was a Republican like his Home Depot co-founder, BERNARD MARCUS, 87. Well, I found a year-old “USA Today” article that showed an interesting pattern---while the big majority of NFL owners give donate mostly to the GOP, most of the Jewish owners, including Kraft, 75, and Blank, give the majority of their political donations to Democrats. Blank was the biggest Obama giver among NFL owners in 2008 and Kraft the biggest in 2012.  So, Jewish NFL owners, a very rich group, are not so different from the collectively affluent American Jewish electorate---they put the liberal Jewish tradition ahead of other interests—and give about 70% of their donations to Democrats—about equal to the Jews who vote Democratic in presidential elections.

Kraft is a bit more generous to Dems than Blank. Probably because he lives in strongly Democratic New England and, to his credit, he built the Patriots' stadium with private money, alone. Blank, on the other hand, has chosen to schmooze up the strong Georgia GOP (and Dems, too) with contributions—and it paid off: the Falcons new stadium, which will open in July, is the beneficiary of an estimated $600 million in public funds.


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