Jews in the News: Kate Hudson, Doris Roberts and Houdini

Happy Matzah Week!

At the Movies: Opening Friday, April 29

Patrick Stewart is reportedly truly frightening in “Green Room” as Darcy, a diabolical club owner. The story: a raggedy punk band agrees to play a run-down, backwoods club in Oregon. When they get there, they find out that that Darcy and his patrons are neo-Nazis. They play the gig and are ready to depart when one band member realizes she left her cell phone backstage in “the green room”.  In the green room, she and another band member witness a murder by Darcy’s racist associates. Darcy orders the death of the band members and the rest of the film consists of cat-and-mouse combat between the band and Darcy’s men. All the action is played out in and around the backstage area, which adds to the film’s intensity. ANTON YELCHIN, 27, co-stars as Pat, a member of the band who proves to be Darcy’s most resourceful enemy.

By the way, the Stewart versus Yelchin casting in “Green Room” has the air of a “Star Trek” episode in which an evil version of a normally heroic series star character battles a good series star. Stewart is best known for his star turn as Capt. Picard on “Star Trek: Next Generation.” Yelchin’s most-seen role is Chekov in the current “re-boot” series of “Star Trek” films.

“Mother’s Day” is another “holiday film” directed by Garry Marshall (who seems Jewish, but isn’t). Like his previous flicks, “New Year’s Eve” and “Valentine’s Day”, it is a collection of schmaltzy inter-related stories relevant to the title and featuring a huge cast. KATE HUDSON, 37, co-stars as the best friend of a woman (Britt Robertson) who was adopted. Hudson encourages her to seek out her birth mother (Julia Roberts). Jennifer Aniston stars in the other major story line.  JON LOVITZ, 58, appears to have one of the larger supporting roles.

On Doris Roberts

DORIS ROBERTS, best known as Ray Romano’s mother in “Everybody Loves Raymond” died on April 17, age 90. Her long career included a major supporting role that you have to see or re-view. “Hester Street” (1975) is arguably the best film ever made about the heyday of Eastern European Jewish immigration to America (1880-1920) and the complexity of assimilation. CAROL KANE, now 63, got a best actress Oscar nomination for her starring role as a pious woman whose immigrant husband settled on the Lower East Side and became “very American” before sending for her and their young son. Roberts co-stars as a neighbor who becomes Kane’s invaluable guide to America and a great friend. No premium service is now streaming “Hester Street”, but the entire film can be viewed (free) on Youtube. It’s a high quality copy. Just enter the film title or click here: Hester Street, Complete Film

Houdini Gets Sleuthy

Here’s most of the publicity release for the Fox series “Houdini & Doyle”, which premieres on Monday, May 2 at 9PM: “Two great men of the 20th Century – Harry Houdini, master magician, escape artist and paranormal debunker; and Arthur Conan Doyle, prolific writer, creator of Sherlock Holmes and paranormal aficionado - join forces with Adelaide Stratton , New Scotland Yard's first female constable ever, to investigate unsolved and inexplicable crimes with a supernatural slant. In the series' debut, Houdini, Doyle and Adelaide investigate the murder of a nun…A witness claims the killer is a young woman who was tormented by the nun. The only problem is, that young woman has been dead for six months.”

HOUDINI (1874-1926), born Erik Weisz, was, of course, Jewish. Doyke wasn’t Jewish and Stratton is a wholly fictional character. Houdini is played by Michael Weston, 42. He’s a great friend of ZACH BRAFF, 41, and has had roles in three Braff films, including “Garden State.” You may know him for playing Olivia Benson’s half-brother on several “Law and Order: SVU” episodes. Weston, who was born Michael Rubenstein, is the son of  JOHN RUBENSTEIN, 69, a busy actor whose credits include a co-starring role on the ‘80s series, “Crazy Like a Fox.” The famous Jewish virtuoso classical pianist ARTHUR RUBINSTEIN (1887-1982) was John’s father and Michael’s grandfather. John’s mother wasn’t Jewish and I don’t think that Michael’s mother, minor actress Judi West, is Jewish either.  One P.S.: Arthur Rubenstein was a famous prodigy who toured the world at a young age. He was only 19 (1906) when he made his debut at Carnegie Hall. Therefore, it’s entirely possible that he met Houdini and/or they saw one and other in performance.


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