Jews in the News: Howard Stern, Steven Spielberg and Ronan Farrow

Streaming, or Old School TV

The David Letterman Netflix talk show, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction,” began its premiere season with a rare interview with President Obama. It ends its first season with an interview with HOWARD STERN, 64, who often calls himself the “King of All Media.” (interview begins streaming on May 31).

If you have only caught bits of Stern’s most shocking or raunchy shtick, you might not be aware that Stern is really smart and quite articulate. He is also a strong and pretty informed supporter of Israel (although I doubt that topic will come up with Letteman). I don’t believe that Stern has been the guest (and not the host) for a full one-hour interview without ads. It will be interesting to see if Letterman, with a lot of interview time, will be able to explore some issues in-depth.

Certainly, the topic of President Trump will come up. Stern interviewed Trump many times from 1993-2005 and asked him many more questions, collectively, than any other interviewer (including Fox News personalities). It was on Stern’s show in which then-businessman Trump made two remarks that are constantly brought up: that avoiding STDs in the ‘70s was his (Trump’s) Vietnam—and that he (Trump) would date IVANKA if she wasn’t his daughter

The TVLand cable series “Nobodies” features three real-life comedians who are trying to make the big-time. The series’ gimmick is that they run into many showbiz people and solicit their advice or help. Every episode has a well-known guest star playing them self.  STEVEN SPIELBERG, 71, is the guest star in the season finale episode first airing on May 31, at 10PM (many encore showings). One of the three “Nobodies,” Larry Dorf, may be Jewish, but there is very little biography available on him.

The History Channel marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Robert F. Kennedy with a documentary about his life featuring new interviews with family members. (First airs on June 4 at 10PM). Worth noting here is the death of RICHARD GOODWIN, age 86, on May 20.

He was a speechwriter for President Kennedy, President Johnson, and Robert Kennedy. He wrote the groundbreaking and incredibly powerful anti-apartheid speech that Robert Kennedy delivered to South African students in 1966.  Goodwin is also credited with writing the 1965 speech for President Johnson in which Johnson urged the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Goodwin managed to persuade Johnson to reference the famous Civil Rights movement song “We Shall Overcome” in this speech. The effect of using that title or phrase was electric.

Goodwin, a Harvard Law grad who clerked for Justice FELIX FRANKFURTER, investigated 1950s TV quiz show scandals for a federal agency. You may recall the very good movie “Quiz Show” (1994) about the scandal surrounding “The $64,000 Question”. ROB MORROW, now 55, played Goodwin (they used Goodwin’s real name) and the Goodwin character was the hero of the film.

I Didn’t Know

In my last column, I had a long item on RONAN FARROW, 30, the biological son of WOODY ALLEN, 83. Frankly, finding Jewish-related items about Farrow wasn’t easy. I did note that Farrow says that the late (Jewish) diplomat RICHARD HOLBROOKE was “as close a thing as I have ever had to a father.” Well, a friend tells me that I should have looked closer at Farrow’s personal life.

Farrow, I learned, has long been romantically linked to JON LOVETT, 35, a former (Jewish) speechwriter for President Obama. Lovett and Farrow haven’t absolutely confirmed they are “an item”—but “nobody” believes they aren’t. Jon Lovett shouldn’t be confused with comedian JON LOVITZ, 60. If Lovitz and Farrow were an item--that would be a May-December “odd ball” pairing that would rival Woody Allen and Soon-Yi.

At the Movies

“How to Talk to Girls at Parties” is a sci-fi film based in part on the writings of our Brit landsman, super-star fantasy writer NEIL GAIMAN, 57 (Gaiman recently played himself in a small, but important part on “The Big Bang Theory”). Adding to Gaiman’s work was “Parties” script co-writer John Cameron Mitchell (who had a co-starring Jewish character in his most famous work, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”).

Elle Fanning co-stars in "Parties" as a 1970s teen who sneaks out of her house to attend punk parties. One night, she and other friends meet up with a particularly cool group of teens. These teens are really from another planet. Romance and other stuff ensues. (Opens June 1 in many cities)


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