Jews in the News: Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Stern and Jennifer Grey

A Stylish Murder Mystery

 Opening in theaters on Nov. 29th is “Knives Out,” which is described as a “witty and stylish whodunit guaranteed to keep audiences guessing until the very end.” Christopher Plummer plays Harlan, a famous crime novelist who is murdered on his estate right after his 85th birthday. A debonair detective, played by Daniel “James Bond” Craig, is hired to investigate. The suspects are played by an all-star cast that includes JAMIE LEE CURTIS, 60, as Harlan’s daughter, Linda.

 Netflix: Toys and Movies To Remember

The first, four-episode season of the original Netflix documentary series “The Movies that Made Us” will be released in its entirety on Nov. 29. Netflix has another documentary series called “The Toys that Made Us”. “Toys” third season was released on Nov. 22. Each “Toy” season tells the story of four iconic toys. The creator of both series is BRIAN WOLK-WEISS, 43. He grew-up, he says, in New York City, "in a family of dentists and lawyers.”  He quickly went from a production assistant to managing comedians and producing comedy specials for HBO and others.

It’s not easy running down whether a person associated with a toy is/was Jewish. They often aren’t household names. But here’s a few I’m sure about in the new season. The second episode, “Power Rangers,” follows how Israeli-American producer HAIM SABAN, now 75, bought the rights to a Japanese TV series that “many biggies” passed on and had a smash hit in 1993 with a “Rangers” TV series and its associated toys. The 3rd episode is about “My Little Pony,” which was first a big selling Hasbro toy (1981). It spawned hit animated TV shows and films. “My Little Pony” was a key to reviving Hasbro, a company that had fallen on hard times before STEPHEN HASSENFELD, a grandson of the Jewish founders, became company head in the late ‘70s. TARA CHARENDOFF STRONG, 43, appears in the “Pony” episode. She’s a leading voice actress who worked in Toronto’s Yiddish theater as a child. She’s done many “Little Pony” voice roles.

The movie series has episodes that cover “Home Alone”, “Ghostbusters”, “Die Hard” and “Dirty Dancing.” Well, “Die Hard” had no Jewish stars/writers, etc.—so it’s “out.” “Home Alone” didn’t have many Jewish ties, but it did feature DANIEL STERN, now 62, as one of the two hapless burglars. Stern will appear in the “Home Alone” episode. “Ghostbusters” had many more kosher ties, including director IVAN REITMAN, now 73 (who will appear in the episode); the late HAROLD RAMIS, who co-wrote and co-starred in the film; and RICK MORANIS, now 65, who had a big supporting role. Finally, there is “Dirty Dancing” the ‘most Jewish’ film ever that never mentioned the word “Jewish”. Clearly, it was about the romance of a young Jewish woman (played by JENNIFER GREY, now 59) and a non-Jewish employee of a Borscht Belt hotel (the late Patrick Swayze). It was written by ELEANOR BERGSTEIN, now 81, and co-starred Grey and the late JACK WESTON as the hotel owner. By the way, the big soundtrack hit, “Hungry Eyes,” is sung by ERIC CARMEN, now 70, a nice Jewish boy from Ohio.

Over On Hulu

I recently caught up with two original Hulu series: “Looking for Alaska” and “Dollface.”  “Alaska” is an 8-episode limited series that was released in October to great reviews and it’s a real Emmy contender. It is based on a 2005 young adult novel of the same name written by best-selling author John Green. Many tried to adapt the book, but failed. However, it looks like “Alaska” series creator JOSH SCHWARTZ, 43, who also created the hit TV series “The O.C.”, has succeeded. Don’t want to ruin the plot, except to say it’s about teens at a co-ed boarding school and Alaska is the first name of a star character.

The first, 10-episode season of the comedy series “Dollface” began streaming in its entirety on Nov. 15.  KAT DENNINGS, 33, stars as Jules, who works for a company which markets to young women. In the very first scene, Jules’ long-time boyfriend breaks up with her. In scenes both real, and fantasized, we see Jules react to the break-up by trying to make friends of other women. This isn’t easy, but she does make friends with Izzy, a co-worker (ESTHER POVITSKY, 31).  I agree with “Variety” which said, in short: the acting is very good, the scripts need real work, and potentially “Dollface” could become very good.


Add Comment