Jews in the News: Kenneth Lonergan, Rikki Lake and Rashida Jones

Manchester”: A Major Oscar Contender

“Manchester by the Sea”, opened in a few cities on Nov. 25. But will not open in  most places until Dec. 2 or later. It has already got good-to-great reviews from major critics and Oscar-talk is in the air for the lead actors and KENNETH LONERGAN, 55, the film’s director and screenwriter. The film tells the story of the working-class Chandler family.  Joe and his 17-year-old son, Patrick (Lucas Hedges), live just north of Boston. Joe suddenly dies and his will names his younger brother, Lee (Casey Affleck), as Patrick’s legal guardian. The modest money and housing that comes with the guardianship persuades Lee to give up his dead-end janitor job and come back to Manchester-By-the Sea-- even though it forces him to deal with a tragic past involving his ex-wife (Michelle Williams), who lives in Manchester.

Lonergan, whose mother was Jewish, has plowed this ground before. Most of his works begin with an unexpected event that forces a confrontation between close friends or family members.  The confrontation always features dialogue that is smart, sharp, and surprisingly funny.  Lonergan’s first Broadway success, “This is Our Youth” (1996) was about three young adult Jewish friends (one female) who face a real crisis involving embezzled money, a possible mob hit on one, and the need to quickly raise cash through selling drugs. Still, there’s humor and sexual tension in the play.  (“Youth” has been a hit in two Broadway revivals since 1996).

Likewise, his film “You Can Count on Me” (2000) was a critical hit about a “half Jewish” brother (Mark Ruffalo) and sister (Laura Linney) who work to sort out their relationship after the attempted suicide of the brother’s girlfriend.

Varied TV Offerings

NBC is presenting, live, the Broadway musical version of “Hairspray” on Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 8PM.  HARVEY WEINSTEIN, 64, reprises his co-starring Broadway role as Edna Turnblad. BILLY EICHNER, 38, has a smallish role as a TV reporter. Appearing in cameos are RICKI LAKE, 48, and MARISSA JARET WINOKUR, 45. They played star character Tracey Turnblad (Edna’s daughter) in, respectively, the original “Hairspray” film, and in the original Broadway musical show. The music was composed by MARC SHAIMAN, 57.

The same day, Hulu begins streaming the entire first season (10 episodes) of “Shut Eye.” It centers on a failed magician who holds himself out as a psychic. EMMANUELLE CHRIQUI, 37 (“Entourage”) co-stars as a gifted hypnotist. Also on the 7th, MARLEE MATLIN, 51, will guest star in an episode of CBS medical drama “Code Black. " (10PM) She’ll play a deaf patient who arrives at the hospital with her translator after their car rolls over into a river. Matlin’s film credits include “Children of a Lesser God,” for which she won the best actress Oscar.

Rashida and Bubbles

I vaguely recalled that actress RASHIDA JONES, 40, was childhood friends with Michael Jackson even before Jones recently talked about a particularly bizarre Jackson-related incident on the “Vice Channel” talk show “Deus & Mauro”. Rashida met Jackson through her father Quincy Jones, the famous producer of many musicians, including Jackson (Her mother is actress PEGGY LIPTON, 70. Rashida firmly identifies as Jewish).


Back in 2011, she told “Playboy” about her relationship with Jackson: “He was definitely a little bit of an alien, for sure, and when I was young, it felt as if he was my age, not 18 years older, but with just a little bit more pep. Later, we’d go out on the town together. He always wore those surgical masks. Once, my sister, Michael, ­Emmanuel Lewis [the kid star of “Webster”] and I got in a car with Super Soakers and went by a movie theater and supersoaked the hell out of people waiting in line. They had no idea they’d just been supersoaked by the King of Pop.”

Soaking others is virtually harmless. But sometimes Jackson’s “weirdnesses” could have more bite. Remember Bubbles, the chimp that Jackson dressed up in kid’s clothes and was long given free run of Neverland, Jackson’s estate?

Jones told “Vice” that she was trying to get Bubbles to behave by tapping him on the head, as she seen Jackson do when Bubbles misbehaved. Bubbles, she said, looked her "straight in the eye" and bit down on her hand, right in the gap between her thumb and index finger, and soon blood gushed everywhere. Jones showed that she still bears a bite scar and, she added, that Bubbles had "no regrets" about the bite: “He was like, ‘I'm the man.’”

The third season of "Angie Tribeca," Jones' satirical TBS send-up of police shows, will begin airing in July, 2017. She's also the co-writer of "Toy Story 4," which will open in 2019.By the way, Bubbles is now happily retired and living in a nice facility in Central Florida. Learn more:



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