Jews in the News: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Robert Kazinsky and Peter Jacobson

At the Movies: Opening Friday, Jan. 15

“Anomalia”, a stop-action animated film directed and written by CHARLIE KAUFMAN, 57, is about Michael Stone, a husband and father who is crippled by the mundanity of his life. On a business trip, Stone checks into a hotel and meets Lisa (voice by JENNIFER JASON LEIGH. 53), who may or may not be the love of his love. The reviews are great for this film that got a Golden Globe nomination and probably will get an Oscar one, too. It opened in very limited release on Dec. 30 and opens “wide” on the 15th.

Much different are the action films “The 5th Wave” and “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi”. “Wave” is another film based on a young adult novel about a “dystopian” future. This time the world is suffering from a series of attacks by “the others” and Cassie, our young heroine, is on the run with her young brother—hoping to survive the lethal “5th wave”. LIEV SCHREIBER, 48, co-stars as the nasty commander of a refugee camp who may not be what he seems. Meanwhile, there is true horror depicted in “Benghazi,” which purports to tell us the real story of the 2012 attack on the American consulate in Bengazi, Libya. It’s directed by MICHAEL BAY, 50, whose best known for frothy, fantasy fare like “Transformers.”

New TV Season: New Shows

Here’s one I should have clued you into before now: the Fox comedy series, "Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life,” started on Jan. 3 (new episodes air Sundays at 8:30PM). The title character is a young man in search of his first job after college. JUSTIN BARTHA, 37 (“National Treasure” flicks), plays Cooper’s 40-year-old married brother—who has two kids.

The sci-fi action series, “Second Chance,” premiered on Fox on Wednesday, Jan. 13 at 9PM. It was created by RAND RAVICH (“The Astronaut’s Wife”), 53, a Solomon Schechter day school grad. It stars British Jewish actor ROBERT KAZINSKY, 32, in his first really big American role. Kazinsky, a very toned and handsome guy, plays Jimmy Pritchard a “re-born” Seattle-area police detective who died at age 75 after a corruption scandal forced him to retire. Billionaire twins bring him back to life as a 32-year-old (Kazinsky) with a new purpose. But Pritchard is still haunted by the old temptations.

Here’s two reasons to like Kazinsky, sight unseen: His original last name is “Appleby”, but he took the “more Jewish name”, Kazinsky, his grandfather’s middle name, as his stage name—that might be a first—and—he speaks Hebrew and has appeared in Israeli TV ads.

In many ways, the new USA network series, “Colony,” mines the same ground as “The 5th Wave.” Again, we are in a horrible future and the Earth has been invaded by baddies from outer space. The action is set in Los Angeles, where the alien occupiers, who appear in human form, have walled off the city and are "culling off" the physically unfit. The series centers on Katie and Will Bowman (Josh Holloway), secret members of the resistance movement, and their two children. Bowman is supposed to be a former Army Ranger. There are many human collaborators, including Alan Snyder, who is the governor of the Los Angeles area and a total tool of the invaders. Playing Snyder is veteran character actor PETER JACOBSON, 50, who played Dr. Chris Taub for five years on “House.”

I am not sure I like the idea of Jacobson, who looks very stereotypically Jewish, playing the bad guy. But it continues the movie/TV fiction that resistance fighters are handsome, blond all-American types like Holloway and collaborators are “something other” than blonde and handsome. In the documentary, “The Sorrow and the Pity,” about France during the Nazi occupation—the point is made that the “regular folks” mostly went along with the Occupation. The French Resistance was mostly made-up of ‘oddballs’, including working class Communists and Socialists who usually weren’t screen idol handsome; a very large number of Jews; and—one I remember well—an effeminate, gay Englishman who became a secret British agent aiding the Resistance. He did so, he said, to prove to himself that he was a “man”.

Starting on PBS on Sunday evening, Jan. 17 is “Mercy Street,” a six-episode medical drama set during the Civil War. The action takes place in hospital in Virginia, where two volunteer nurses from opposite sides work. JOSH “How I Met Your Mother” RADNOR, 41, plays the lead physician, a Union loyalist whose Maryland family owned slaves.


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