At the Movies: Opens October 23
“Rock the Kasbah” stars Bill Murray as Richie Lanz, a has-been rock manager who takes his last remaining client (Zooey Deschanel) on a USO tour of Afghanistan. She dumps him and Lanz finds himself in Kabul, abandoned and broke. Then he finds an Afghan girl with a great voice who wants to be the first woman on her country’s version of “American Idol.” Lanz is aided by a sharpie hooker (KATE HUDSON, 36), a war profiteer (SCOTT CAAN, 39), and a wacko mercenary (Bruce Willis).
Murray and Willis seem perfectly cast in their roles, and, on paper, this film appears to have all the elements of a hit. However, director BARRY LEVINSON, 72, has turned out a number of films in the last decade that sounded good and ended up getting lackluster reviews and died at the box office. It’s a long time since the Oscar-winning director regularly turned out hits like “Rain Man” and “Bugsy”. More ominous is the fact that MITCH GLAZER, 62, wrote the screenplay. Mostly a journalist and producer, the only other film he wrote (“Passion Play”) was a dour drama that nobody liked and his Showtime series, “Magic City,” about Jewish gangsters, lasted a year. He managed to make gangsters boring; there was no humor, and virtually no Jews in the cast. I hope for Levinson’s sake that Glazer’s script surprises me.
Sidelight note: Deschanel married producer JACOB PECHENIK, 40ish, last summer, shortly before the birth of their daughter. No details on their wedding were released (like whether it was a Reform Jewish ceremony). The groom, a Texas native, comes from a practicing Jewish family. His Austin-based film company co-produced “Kasbah”.
Jew-Ish TV Stuff
In my last column, I wrote that Amazon TV released (Oct. 7) the first season of “Red Oaks”, a series centering around a mostly Jewish country club. I should have noted three more Jewish actors with important series roles. The star character is Jewish college student David Meyers (played by Brit actor Craig Roberts). His father, as previously noted, is played by RICHARD KIND, 58. I should told you that JENNIFER “Dirty Dancing” GREY, 55, plays David's mother. By the way, in a recent interview, the essentially secular Grey said that tradition became more important to her as she aged and she was pleased when her only child, her daughter STELLA, now 14, who was being raised secular (with Grey’s husband, actor Clark Gregg) asked to have a bat mitzvah (and had one).
I also neglected to mention the (Jewish) acting duo at the center of what most critics have called the show’s best subplot—the romance of David’s fairly homely friend, Wheeler (OLIVER COOPER, 26) and Misty (ALEXANDRA TURSHEN, 29), a beautiful young blonde. Cooper co-starred in “Project X” (2012) and played DAVID DUCHOVNY’s “love child” in the last season of “Californication.” Turshen is a talented newcomer.
My “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” premiered on the “CW” network on Monday, Oct. 12. New episodes air Mondays at 8PM, but you can catch-up on-line (free), on-demand, or on Hulu. The show stars RACHEL BLOOM, 28, as a successful, but unhappy New York lawyer who is inspired to seek her bliss in Los Angeles after a chance meeting with a summer camp boyfriend who dumped her. Each episode includes at least two full out musical production numbers and the humor is pretty sophisticated.
Bloom became a Youtube star with 40 or more mostly musical videos, in which she sings and often dances. Millions have viewed these shorts and many of the vids are “very Jewish” (including a sexy and funny parody of “Santa Baby” called “Chanukah Honey"). Well, the Youtube “Bloom block” was discovered by top screenwriter ALINE BROSH MCKENNA, 48. McKenna crafted a series pilot with Bloom and got it on the air.
Check out the entertaining PBS series, “I’ll Have what Phil’s Having,” which premiered on Sept. 28 (easy to catch-up on-line, on-demand, etc). The charming PHIL ROSENTHAL, 55, the co-creator of “Everybody Loves Raymond”, travels the globe (Tokyo, Italy, Paris, Hong King, Barcelona, and Los Angeles) seeking out good eating experiences in restaurants he knows and in places recommended by local food mavens (sometimes he even has a home cooked meal) . Occasionally, he is joined by his two teenage children and his wife, MONICA HORAN, 52. A Jew-by-choice, Horan played Amy, the wife of Raymond’s brother, Robert (played by BRAD GARRETT).