Jews in the News: Jeffrey Tambor, Tracee Ellis Ross & Barry Levinson

The Tribe at the Emmys

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards will be broadcast live on CBS on Sunday, Sept. 17 at 5PM. Stephen Colbert will host. The Creative Arts Emmys are awarded on Sept. 16 (FXX cable, 8PM, taped). The Creative Emmy categories include guest actor on a series, documentaries, reality and animated shows, and all the technical awards. I’ll mention a few Jewish “Creative” nominees at the end of this column.  Here are the confirmed Jewish Primetime Emmy nominees.

Acting Categories:  Lead actor, comedy series: JEFFREY TAMBOR, 73, “Transparent”; Lead actress, comedy series: PAMELA ADLON, 51, “Better Things” and TRACEE ELLIS ROSS, 44, “Black-ish” (Ross’s father is Jewish; her mother is famous African-American singer Diana Ross); Note: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, a nominee in this category, had one Jewish grandparent (paternal grandpa) and she’s said “I’m not Jewish” repeatedly; Lead actor, drama series: LIEV SCHREIBER, 49 , “Ray Donovan”;  Lead actress, drama series: EVAN RACHEL WOOD, 29, “West World”;  Supporting actor, drama: MANDY PATINKIN, 64, “Homeland”; Supporting actress, comedy series: VANESSA BAYER, 35, “Saturday Night Live” (“SNL”) and JUDITH LIGHT, 68, “Transparent”; Supporting actress, limited series/movie: JACKIE HOFFMAN, 56, “Feud: Bette and Joan”.

Directing and writing awards: First, the directors: Comedy series: DAVID MANDEL, 47, “Veep”. Mandel has written for many series, including “Seinfeld.” He wrote 10 “Seinfeld” episodes, including the famous “Bizarro Jerry” episode, which he says is his favorite; Director, limited series, or movie or special: GLENN WEISS, 55, the Oscars ceremony; Director, variety series: JEREMY KONNER, 37, “Drunk History”. Konner is also the co-creator of this series; Writing, comedy series: David Mandel, “Veep”; Writing, drama series: JOE WEISBERG, 56, “The Americans”. A former CIA officer, Weisberg created “The Americans,” a series about two KGB agents posing as Americans in the 1980s. Writing, limited series: JAFFE COHEN, 60ish, co-writer, “Feud: “Bette and Joan” and RICHARD PRICE, 67, co-writer, “The Night Of.” 

Nominated for outstanding writing, variety series are: “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” “Saturday Night Live,” and “Late Night with Stephen Colbert”. The writing staffs of these series are all pretty big. But noted here are the ‘confirmed’ Jewish head writers: JO MILLER, 51, “Samantha Bee”; and JAY KATSIR, 35, “Stephen Colbert” and SARAH SCHNEIDER, 33, “SNL”. By the way, Seth Meyers’ isn’t Jewish (his paternal grandpa was). However, in 2013 he married attorney ALEXI ASHE, 34, in a Jewish ceremony.

The Emmys for “best series” in various categories goes to the series’ producers, of whom there are many. My practice is to note which of the “best” series have a Jewish creator or co-creator. Best Comedy series: STEVEN LEVITAN, 55, co-creator, “Modern Family” and JOHN ALTSCHULER/DAVE KRINSKY, both 54, co-creators, with Mike Judge, of “Silicon Valley”; Best Drama Series: PETER MORGAN, 54, “The Crown” (which he wrote) and DAN FOGELMAN, 38, “This is Us”; Best Limited Series: Jaffee Cohen, co-creator, “Feud: Bette and Joan” and Richard Price, co-creator, “The Night Of “ and NOAH PINK, 35ish, co-creator, “Genius.” Pink is a Canadian Jew from Nova Scotia; Best Variety Sketch Series: BILLY EICHNER, 37, creator and star of “Billy on the Street” and Jeremy Konner, co-creator, “Drunk History” and CARRIE BROWNSTEIN, 42, co-creator and co-star of “Portlandia” and LORNE MICHAELS, 72, creator of “SNL”. Best TV movie: BARRY LEVINSON, 75, “Wizard of Lies”. Levinson, the film’s director, is nominated as the film’s producer.

Several non-Jewish thespians are nominated for playing real life Jews. Robert DeNiro, who played BERNIE MADOFF in “Wizard of Lies,” vies with Geoffrey Rush, who played ALBERT EINSTEIN in “Genius,” for the lead actor Emmy in a limited series. Stanley Tucci who played JACK L. WARNER (of Warner Bros. fame)  in “Feud” is nominated for supporting actor, limited series; and Michelle Pfeiffer, who played RUTH MADOFF opposite DeNiro, is up for supporting actress, limited series.

Now for the Creative Emmys corner: HANK AZARIA, 53, guest actor, drama, “Ray Donovan.” (Ben Mendelsohn, a nominee in this category, is the “same story” as Seth Meyers). SARAH SILVERMAN, 46, variety special, “A Speck of Dust”; MINDY STERLING, 64, best known for playing “Frau Farbissina” in the “Austin Powers” movies, is nominated for best actress in short form shows (one a web series); FISHER STEVENS, 53, is nominated for best direction of a non-fiction program (AKA, a documentary)—“Bright Lights Starring Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher.” He competes in this category with EZRA EDELMAN, 43, “O.J.: Made in America.” Liev Schreiber is nominated twice for best “voice-over” narration. He narrated two different documentaries.


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