Jews in the News: Howie Mandel, Daveed Diggs and Goldie Hawn

Rudolph as Kamala, New Series, Upcoming

The new season of “Saturday Night Live” will begin on Oct. 3.   5 episodes will air this October. All will be filmed, live, on stage, in front of a small audience. The first episode won’t include an election sketch.  That will happen “sometime” later in October. Jim Carrey will play former V-P Joe Biden.  Of course, Alec Baldwin will play the President.  MAYA RUDOLPH, 48, will play Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic V-P nominee. Rudolph portrayed Harris in three SNL sketches last year and just won an Emmy (guest actress, comedy) for one of those sketches.

I previously wrote that the Showtime documentary series, “The Comedy Store”, might premiere in October. Now, the premiere is certain: a 5-part series about the famous Los Angles nightclub will start on Sunday, Oct.4 at 10PM. The series features never before seen footage of famous comedians. Interviewees include David Letterman and HOWIE MANDEL, 65.The director and main writer is MIKE BINDER, 62. Binder was a stand-up comedian early in his career. He was the star (and writer) of the HBO series “The Mind of a Married Man” (2001). His best work is the well-reviewed 2005 film “The Upside of Anger,” starring Kevin Costner. Binder wrote, directed, and has a supporting role in this film—check it out.

MITZI SHORE (1930-2018) co-founded The Comedy Store in 1968. She had a truly great eye for young talent and is credited with giving many great comics their start or big break (a partial list: Robin Williams, David Letterman, ANDY KAUFMAN, Jay Leno, and GARRY SHANDLING). Shore ran the club from its inception because her husband and club co-founder, “so/so” comedian SAMMY SHORE, was usually on the road. Mitzi became the club’s sole owner after she and Sammy split in 1974. By the way, the Showtime series, “I’m Dyin’ Up Here,” was loosely based on Shore and her club.  It was yanked after two seasons (2017-18). It did skillfully depict the problems that a woman (Shore) running a nightclub faced. However, people expect a show about comics to be mostly funny. But “Dyin’”, like many failed films, was mostly about stand-up comics’ often sad off-stage lives. I think “Mrs. Maisel” is the first show or film to avoid this trap and that’s why it’s a hit. In the first episode, Mrs. Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) masterfully delivered a long stand-up set that used her real life woes as fodder for real belly laughs. “Maisel” off-stage scenes usually deftly balance laughs with drama. (Yes, “Seinfeld” was also a hit. But Jerry’s stand-up career was rarely the focus of an episode).

“Monsterland” is an original Hulu series that begins streaming on Oct. 2. It is an 8-episode anthology series (each episode stands alone) about “broken” people who have encounters with mermaids, fallen angels, and other strange beasts. JONATHAN TUCKER, 38, who has many film and TV credits, co-stars in the first episode. Tucker, whose mother is Jewish, will also co-star in the NBC sci-fi series “Debris”, which will premiere sometime early next year. The 7th episode of Monsterland co-stars MICHAEL HSU ROSEN, 30ish. He is just breaking into TV/film work following years as a ballet dancer and stage actor. His father is Jewish. His mother is Chinese.

“The Good Lord Bird”, an 8-episode Showtime series, starts on Oct. 4.  The focus of the series is the (fictional) relationship between famous abolitionist John Brown (who was real) and Onion, a fictional slave he frees.  Onion rides with Brown (played by Ethan Hawke) and his followers as they violently battle (1856) pro-slavery forces in Kansas. The series climatic moment comes when Brown leads a famous raid (1859) on a Virginia federal armory.   “Hamilton” star DAVEED DIGGS, 38, has a large role as Frederick Douglass (1818-95), a famous African-American leader (and escaped slave) who was an ally of Brown. WYATT RUSSELL, 33, appears as J.E.B. Stuart, an American army officer who helped repel the armory raid and later became a famous Confederate General. Wyatt, who identifies as Jewish, is the son of actor Kurt Russell and GOLDIE HAWN, 74. Advance reviews are very good.

It was recently announced that Starz has given the greenlight to a series based on “Blindspotting,” a hit 2018 film. The film was written by Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal. They co-starred in this “dramedy” film as working class guys trying to cope with racism and gentrification. The series (half hour episodes) will be written by Diggs and Casal. Diggs won’t act in the series, but Casal will reprise his role.


Add Comment