Jews in the News: Henry Winker, Sean Penn and Mayim Bialik

Emmys Round-Up: A Very Good Night

The 70th Emmy awards, held last week, saw Jewish folks clean-up in the comedy categories and do well elsewhere. HENRY WINKLER, 72 (“Barry”) won the supporting actor in a comedy series Emmy and ALEX BORSTEIN, 47 (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) won the supporting actress in a comedy series award. The creator of “Mrs. Maisel”, AMY SHERMAN-PALLADINO, 52, won three Emmys. “Maisel” won the comedy series Emmy and, as a show producer, she accepted the award. Individually, she won as the director of the best comedy episode (the “Maisel” pilot) and best written comedy episode (the “Maisel” pilot). The “Maisel” juggernaut included Rachel Brosnahan, who won the lead actress (comedy) award for playing the Jewish Mrs. Maisel.

JOEL WEISBERG, 52, and JOEL FIELDS, 50ish (“The Americans”), won the Emmy for writing the best drama episode. I recently learned that Fields’ late father was Rabbi HARVEY J. FIELDS, who served as President of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California. The best drama series Emmy went to “Games of Thrones,” which is produced by, and frequently written by DAVID BENIOFF and D.B. WEISS, both 47.  “Saturday Night Live” won the Emmy for best Variety Sketch series. The award was accepted by LORNE MICHAELS, 73, the creator and principal producer of “SNL.”

Moving moments: (1) Henry Winkler winning his first Emmy after 5 previous nominations. On stage, he said he dreamed of being an actor when he was 7 years old living in New York City “with short German Jewish parents who did not want me to be an actor…I was 27 when I started doing The Fonz. I'm now 72 and I'm standing right here in front of you with her. Wow." and (2) GLENN WEISS, 57, who won an Emmy for best direction of a variety special (“The Oscars”), proposing marriage to his girlfriend from the stage. She accepted and joined him on-stage.

By the way, David Benioff’s 3rd cousin (they share a great-grandfather), billionaire MARC BENIOFF, 53, just bought “Time” magazine. He’s the CEO of SalesForce, a major cloud computing company. He’s also a big-time philanthropist and Democratic donor. David and Marc met for the first time in 2015 at a gala “Game of Thrones” premiere in San Francisco.

More New TV Season Notes

Now streaming on Hulu is “The First,” an eight-episode limited (i.e., no second season) series about the first mission to Mars. SEAN PENN, 58, stars as a mission astronaut. Reviews have praised Penn’s performance and the series, in general (episodes before they get into space are a bit slow). 

I placed Penn, the always-secular son of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, on my permanent “good list” when, in 2013, he rescued Orthodox businessman JACOB OSTREICHER, now 59, from a Bolivian jail and took him to his home and nursed him back to health. About a year after the rescue, the whole story came out and Penn was praised by every sector of the Jewish community.

The Neighborhood”, a comedy/drama, begins on Monday, Oct. 1 on CBS (8PM). MAX GREENFIELD, 38 (Schmidt on “New Girl”) stars as Dave Johnson.  Things get dicey when Johnson, who is described as the “nicest guy in the Midwest”, moves his family to a tough L.A. neighborhood. Many people there don’t appreciate his extreme neighborliness. Cedric the Entertainer co-stars.

Bialik’s DNA Results

Just before the High Holidays, MAYIM BIALIK, 42, revealed the results of her “23 and Me” DNA test in a video posted on Youtube (search for ‘Bialik’ and “DNA results revealed”). Part of what she said is here, but she is much more charming and funny in the video than printed words convey. She began by assuring us she was learning her test results at the moment she was being filmed. Here’s part of what she said: “I’m 99.7 percent Ashkenazi Jewish. I am the Jewiest person anyone knows. Whatever Jews are chosen for I’ve got it….One of the things that Jewish people all over the world are reflecting on—now that the holidays—are [here]—is our connection to a larger Jewish identity and what that means for our significance in the world—and learning this information at a time of the year when I am focusing on my spiritual identity and my connection to the Jewish community…this is a concrete connection to the community…and really, really special.”

By the way, an informed source tells me that and 23andMe differ a bit in their methodology and virtually no Jew is above 92% Jewish (DNA) in the Ancestry test. That was my experience—Ancestry said I was 92% Ashkenazi Jewish and 8% “undefined European.” I have to take the “23” test to see if I can “out-Jewy” or tie Mayim.


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