Jews in the News: Lisa Kudrow, Jackie Collins and David Frankel

Two New Films; A Documentary, and the Frankels

The animated film “The Boss Baby: Family Business” opens on July 2.  The first “Boss Baby” film (2017) got good reviews and made mucho gelt. It was followed by a Netflix series in 2018.  The premise is, frankly, bizarre (one of the two Templeton brothers, the star characters, is a baby with the mind, and the speech, of an adult). In “Family Business” the Templeton Brothers have drifted apart, but a new boss baby brings them together again. LISA KUDROW, 57, again is the voice of the Templeton brothers’ mother and JEFF GOLDBLUM, 68, is the voice of Dr. Armstrong, a business rival of the Templetons.

“No False Move”, an original HBO film, begins streaming on July 1. It’s a thriller about a group of small-time criminals who are hired to steal what they think is a simple document. The heist goes wrong and they scramble to find out who really hired them and for what purpose. Co-stars include Don Cheadle, Benicio del Torro, and Jon Hamm. “A-lister” Steven Soderbergh directed.

ED SOLOMON, 60, a good friend of Soderbergh, wrote the film.  He is one of those rare guys who can write in any genre. His credits include the comedic “Bill and Ted” movies, the semi-comedy “Men In Black”, and the hit criminal/heist movies “Now You See Me” and “Now You See Me 2”.

“Lady Boss”, a documentary about writer JACKIE COLLINS (1937-2015), began streaming on CNN on June 27. (Check listings for encore showings. It is available on demand). Collins’ “hot” romance novels were huge best-sellers and she was innovator in her field. Her first book, “The World is Full of Married Men” (1968), was much “steamier” than other romance novels of the day and, like her successive novels, featured strong women. 

Collins was born in the U.K., the daughter of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother. Her sister was famous actress JOAN COLLINGS, now 88. Jackie began writing when she was 15 and returned to writing full-time when her acting career didn’t go anywhere. Her boyfriend, Broadway producer OSCAR LERMAN (1919-1992), encouraged her as she wrote her first book and they wed in 1969. They had a happy marriage. Their daughters are interviewed in the film. They told the filmmaker that Jackie was very different from many of her characters—she was a faithful wife and a loving, attentive mother.

Last week, it was announced that an original Paramount+ film entitled “Jerry and Marge Go Large” will begin filming this month. It is based on the true story of Jerry Selbee and his wife, Marge.

Their story was the subject of many articles and a feature (2019) story on “60 Minutes”. The Selbees, now retired, have long lived in rural Michigan. They made a modest living from their convenience store.  Long story short: Jerry uncovered a mathematical quirk in a new Michigan lottery game. Anyone (legally) could earn “net” winnings if they bought enough tickets. He enlisted friends in a “betting pool”. 

When the Michigan game ended, they found a similar game in another state. The club’s ‘grand’ net winnings total was $8M, before taxes. 

The film stars Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening as the Selbees. DAVID FRANKEL, 62, will direct. Frankel has a helmed some really big comedy hits, including “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Marley and Me”. His father is Pulitzer Prize winner MAX FRANKEL, now 91. Max and his family fled Nazi Germany in 1940. He graduated from Columbia University and began working for the Times in 1952. He was a top correspondent and retired (1996) as the Times executive editor.

It’s been a long time since I wrote about Frankel and his family.  Here’s some new to-this-column details about three generations of a strongly Jewish family filled with amazing “overachievers”. Harvard grad David married (1998) Harvard grad JENNIFER BEBER, 62ish, an advertising executive, in the Spanish Synagogue in Venice, Italy.  In the same ceremony, Beber’s Harvard grad sister, NEERA, a successful TV comedy writer, wed an architect (a Yale grad). David and Jennifer’s children, PHOEBE and JAKE BEBER-FRANKEL, are 19-year-old twins. Phoebe is now a Barnard college student (Barnard is part of Columbia Univ.)

Last April, Jake was profiled by a Stanford Univ. publication.  A top high school golfer, Jake recently joined the top-ranked Stanford golf team. Jake is not ‘just’ a golfer---his father says he’s also a “funny writer”. The article notes that Max took Jake and Phoebe on a b’nai mitzvah trip to Europe. Their trip included a visit to Max’s hometown in Germany and tours of several concentration camps.

Jennifer Beber-Frankel grew up in the Miami area. Her father was a physician and her mother led an advertising agency. David Frankel settled in Florida after his wedding and they raised their children in Coconut Grove.


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