Jews in the News: Lauren Cohan, Joan Collins and Stanley Donen

At the Movies: “Captain Marvel” Opens March 8

“Captain Marvel” is the first live-action film featuring the comic book heroine. It is set in 1995.  The movie follows Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), a former US Air Force fighter pilot as she turns into one of the galaxy’s mightiest heroes and joins an elite military team called Starforce. The film’s climax comes when Earth is caught in the middle of a conflict between two alien worlds. Co-stars include Samuel L. Jackson and Jude Law.

The story that the movie was based on was co-written by NICOLE PERLMAN, 37 (“Guardians of the Galaxy”). The film was co-directed by ANNA BODEN and Ryan Fleck, both 42. Boden and Fleck also wrote the screenplay, along with two other writers. This is the first big budget film for the pair, who have long been professional and romantic partners. Marvel was reportedly impressed with their ability to tell character-driven stories, whether in their own indie films, or in their TV series work, which was more “commercial.”

Over on TV

 “Whiskey Cavalier” premiered on ABC on Feb. 28 (10PM). To quote the “Hollywood Reporter”: [Its] “a romantic action-dramedy in which a pair of pretty people bicker and flirt and fight international crime.” Scott Foley plays FBI agent Will Chase (code name: Whiskey Cavalier) who is assigned to work with CIA agent Francesca Trowbridge (LAUREN COHAN, 37). Together, they lead a team of spies who do heroic things, while also dealing with romance and office politics.

Cohan is best known as Maggie Green on “The Walking Dead.” Her parents weren’t Jewish when she was born. Her Scottish mother returned to the U.K. after she split up with Lauren’s American dad. Lauren was then a toddler. In England, her mother re-married a Jewish guy, converted to Judaism, and Lauren was converted to Judaism at age 5. She was a bat mitzvah.

Dame JOAN COLLINS, 85, will guest star on an episode of “Hawaii 5-0” which will air, on CBS, on Friday, Mar. 8 at 9PM. She plays Amanda, a wildly successful romance novelist who is the mother of the ex-wife of star character Danny (SCOTT CAAN, 42). I guess Collins, the secular daughter of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, will be channeling her late sister JACKIE COLLINS in this role. Jackie was a wildy successful romance novelist.

 Both sisters, by the way, had three kids. All six kids (total) had Jewish fathers. Jackie found happiness with her second (and last) husband, who was Jewish. Joan’s been to the altar five times (two ex-husbands were Jewish). Dame Joan’s current (non-Jewish) husband is “only” 54 years old. But this one seems to be working: she’s been married to him since 2002---her longest marriage.

 Two Greats

Film director and choreographer STANLEY DONEN, died on Feb. 21, 2019, age 94. On Feb. 28, conductor, composer, and pianist ANDRE PREVIN died, age 89. I can find little or no evidence that they were ever religious or more than tangentially involved with anything explicitly Jewish. But they were Jews who worked their whole lives in “very Jewish” milieus and they had to be influenced by “all that Jewishness.” I leave it to academics to point-out the Jewish influences on their work.

Previn was only 9 years old when his Jewish family fled Nazi Germany and settled in Los Angeles. Donen grew-up in Columbia, South Carolina and he experienced some anti-Semitic taunts in school. There were then very few Jewish families in Columbia. He left for New York City when he was 16 and never returned.

 Previn was a very good classical pianist and a very good conductor (he lead the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the London Symphony). He was a major film composer before he gave up film work in 1975. He was nominated for 11 musical Oscars, winning four.

Donen met Gene Kelley in 1940. He was then a dancer. Fast forward to 1944 and he began collaborating with Kelly in choreographing dances for films. From 1949 to 1952 they had a great run---co-directing and co-choreographing the classics “On the Town” and “Singin’ in the Rain”. Donen, “solo”, directed Fred Astaire in “Royal Wedding” and in “Funny Face”. He also directed “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” He had a couple of dramatic hits: “Charade” and “Two For the Road.” He was married five times (like Previn). From 1999 until his death, he was the partner of actress/director ELAINE MAY, 86. Perhaps wisely, May turned down his many marriage proposals.


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