Jews in the News: Jeffrey Tambor, Rebecca Metz, and Logan Lerman

Magic, Soccer, Born Free, Rogen and Hunters Redux

The film Magic Camp has its worldwide premiere on Friday, Aug. 14 (Disney Plus). Andy (Adam Devine) is a magician whose career isn’t going well. Roy (Jeffrey Tambor, 76), Andy’s former mentor, runs a summer camp for young, aspiring magicians. He persuades Andy that being a camp counselor might help raise his spirits. The film was co-written by Max Winkler, 36 (Henry Winkler’s son).

Rebecca Metz, 46, appears in a supporting role as the mother of a camper. She’s perhaps best known for a recurring role on the FX series Better Things as the competent and caring agent of the lead character, Sam (Pamela Adlon, 54). A footnote: you may recall that in 2019 the President said that American Jews who voted for the Democrats “either lacked knowledge or were disloyal.” A Newsweek article collected tweets from many famous Jews who strongly objected to this statement, including Metz.

By the way, it was recently confirmed that Better Things would return for a 5th season (they are hoping to shoot it next year). It was also announced that Adlon had signed a deal with Disney (which owns FX) to develop other projects.

Ted Lasso, a new 10-episode sit-com, begins streaming on Apple Plus TV on Aug. 14. Jason Sudeikis stars as an affable American football coach who is recruited to coach an English soccer team, despite having no soccer coaching experience. Brett Goldstein, 39, has a large supporting role (Roy Kent).

Goldstein was profiled by the UK Jewish Chronicle in 2011. The profile said that he grew up in a middle-class Jewish home and had his bar mitzvah at the Wimbledon synagogue. The profile was published just after Goldstein did a solo comedic show at a major British comedy festival. The main subject of Goldstein’s show was a year he spent (just before he went to college) helping his father run a strip club(!). A mid-life crisis, Goldstein told the Chronicle, led his father, a “respectable” book store manager, to radically switch jobs. Can you say oy vey with an English accent?

Don Black, 81, also a British Jew, has penned the lyrics of many famous tunes, including the theme songs for five James Bond flicks. In 1967, he co-won the Oscar for “Born Free,” the theme song for the film Born Free. The song was a huge popular hit. Last May, he went into the hospital with Covid-19. He recently told the BBC that when he checked-in a kind nurse asked what he did and he said, “A songwriter. Google me.” Aided by a caring staff, he pulled through after 9 harrowing days in the hospital. 20 or 30 staff members, he said, learned the lyrics of “Born Free” and serenaded him as he was being discharged. The song, about a lion being released to the wild, sort of fits a Covid survivor. Here’s one very apt line: “Born free and life is worth living.”

I could write a full column on the blow-back following Seth Rogen’s podcast interview with Marc Maron. As noted in my last column, Rogen, 38, seemed to imply that Israel shouldn’t exist, only to quickly deny that was his position in follow-up statements. On August 5, Rogen gave a 35 minute interview to Ha’aretz, the Israeli paper. Ha’aretz posted the full audio for FREE listening on its website (much of Ha’aretz content is behind a pay wall). I recommend that you listen to the interview for a full picture of Rogen’s view of Israel and just about everything Jewish in his personal and professional life. He clarifies and expands on what he said in the Maron interview.  “Google” “Haaretz The Interview Seth Rogen Sets the Record Straight.”

Here's one note from the Ha'aretz interview of especially local interest. Rogen said that his wife, actress/writer LAUREN MILLER ROGEN, 38, took issue with many of the things that he said in the Maron interview. She told Seth--- and Seth agreed--that he experienced very little anti-Semitism growing up in Vancouver, Canada. Lauren had a different experience. Seth said in the Ha'aretz interview that she dealt with a lot of anti-Semitism growing up in Lakeland, a city in Polk County. It is about 35 miles from Tampa and it doesn't have a large Jewish community.

Lauren's very different experience, Seth told Ha'aretz, shaped a view of Jewish issues that differs from his own. While not stated in the interview, one can reasonably speculate that her experience led her to cleave more to the organized Jewish community. Unlike Seth, she is a practicing Jew.

I was surprised when it was recently announced that the Amazon Prime Video series Hunters had been renewed for a second season. Before the series premiered, I was looking forward to a show that starred Al Pacino and Logan Lerman, 28, as Nazi hunters in the 1970s. But Hunters was a mess, despite some good performances (Lerman, especially).The plotting was clunky and the scripts were often second rate. Also, there was a very real problem with the writers inventing Holocaust horror stories. Doing this just feeds the junk that Holocaust deniers write. Besides, there are so many real Holocaust atrocity stories nobody has to invent them for dramatic effect. Almost all respected critics gave the show a thumbs-down. Maybe the second season will be better.


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