Jews in the News: Lena Dunham, Chuck Lorre and Molly Ephraim

Film categories: Best director: DAVID O. RUSSELL, 55, “American Hustle”; Best screenplay: Russell, “American Hustle,” and SPIKE JONZE, 44, “Her”; Best original song: Taylor Swift and JACK ANTONOFF, 29, for the song, “Sweeter than Fiction,” written for the movie “One Chance” about a Brit talent show. Antonoff is best known as the guitarist for the popular rock band, “Fun”.


Best film and TV series awards go to the principal producers. Here are nominees in those categories with a Jewish director, screenwriter, or creator (TV). Drama film: “Philomena,” directed by STEPHEN FREARS,72;-- also--“Rush,” written by PETER MORGAN, 50; Musical or comedy film: "American Hustle,"directed and co-written by DAVID O. RUSSELL, 55;--also-- “Her”, Jonze, director/writer: --also- “Inside Llewyn Davis,” directed/written by JOEL and ETHAN COEN (ages 59 and 56).


Best TV Drama: “The Good Wife,” created by Robert King (not Jewish) and his Jewish wife, MICHELLE KING, 50; Best TV comedy: “The Big Bang Theory,” created by CHUCK LORRE, 61 and BILL PRADY, 53; --also--“Parks and Recreation,” created by GREG DANIELS, 50; --also-- “Girls,” created by LENA DUNHAM, 27.


Best TV movie/mini-series: “American Horror Story: Coven”; created/co-written by BRAD FALCHUK, 41;--also-- “Dancing on the Edge,” a 5 episode series about a black jazz band in Britain in the 1930s. It was written and directed by STEPHEN POLIAKOFF, 61, long a top figure in quality UK TV. Made for the BBC, the series played on Starz in October and can be viewed via Starz “on-demand” through Jan. 31.



New TV Show: Maybe Intelligent?


“Intelligence” is an action-adventure series that premieres on CBS on Tuesday, Jan. 7 at 9PM. After the premiere, it will move to its regular time slot (Mondays at 10PM). It stars Josh Holloway (“Lost”) as an elite spy with a tiny computer embedded in his brain. Marg Helgenberger co-stars, with PETER COYOTE, 72, appearing in a recurring role as her father


The show was created by and is written (mostly) by MICHAEL SEITZMAN, 46, whose previous credits include penning the pretty good 2005 film, “North Country.” Seitzman is an occasional Huffington Post blogger. He has addressed anti-Semitism in a couple of his columns, including anti-Semitism he experienced as a child.



Spotlight on Ephraim


When the ABC series, "Last Man Standing," starring Tim Allen and Nancy Travis started in 2011, I thought that MOLLY EPHRAIM, now 27, who plays Allen's daughter, Amanda, might be Jewish. Well, I was right. Her participation in a fun 2013 Passover Seder video confirmed it.  Ephraim has made three feature films: "College Road Trip", "Paranormal Activity 2" (2010), and "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones." The last flick opens on Friday, Jan. 3. Again she plays "Ali Rey" and once again Rey jousts with demonic ghosts.


Ephraim has a B.A. in religion from the Univ. of Pennsylvania and in 2010 she starred in a off-Broadway production of "The Diary of Anne Frank" that the NY Times praised.  By the way: Nancy Travis isn't Jewish, but she and her Jewish husband are raising their kids in their father's faith.


Love Story Surprises


Most baby-boomers will remember “Love Story,” the mega-hit 1970 film that co-starred Ryan O’Neill as a rich “WASP” college student who weds a working class Italian-American college student (played by Ali MacGraw), over the objections of his snob father.


The late ERICH SEGAL, who wrote the story, was a practicing Jew. Also Jewish was the late JOHN MARLEY, who played MacGraw’s father (He’s best known for playing the film producer with a horse’s head in his bed in “The Godfather”). But here's some surprises: a friend who is a family history expert has confirmed that MacGraw’s mother’s parents were both Jewish. The actress has only ever “admitted” to maybe having a Jewish grandmother. He also tells me that Ryan O’Neill’s maternal grandma was the daughter of two Jewish parents (His other grands weren’t Jewish).


Not sure if O’Neill and/or MacGraw even know that they are “halachic” Jews. Still, I don’t think I can watch the movie, again, without thinking that its famous tag line should be changed to: “Oy, Papa, love means never having to say you’re sorry. Nu?”


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