Jews in the News: Mark Feuerstein, Alicia Silverstone, Rachel Shukert

Hamilton, Babysitters, Hijackers, and Political Hi-Jinks

The film version of “Hamilton”, the mega-hit Broadway musical about Alexander Hamilton, begins streaming on the Disney Plus channel on July 3. The film was supposed to open in theaters, but Covid-19 intervened. A Disney Plus subscription costs $7 a month, so “Hamilton” would be a bargain if you just subscribe for one month. Disney is hoping you’ll watch “Hamilton” and like the whole channel and stay a subscriber.

Three stage productions of “Hamilton” were filmed and the “best parts” were combined to make the film. The original Broadway cast re-created their roles. DAVEED DIGGS, 38, reprises the “Hamilton” roles that won him a best supporting actor Tony (the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson).  THOMAS KAIL, 42, who directed the stage version, also directed the film.

Of course, Lin-Manuel Miranda stars in the title role and he wrote the musical. Many articles have noted that Miranda, a native New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent, really loves almost everything Jewish. Check out, or re-visit, the “Lin Miranda wedding video” on Youtube. Called the best wedding video ever, it features an amazing (necessary spoiler!) version of “To Life” from “Fiddler on the Roof.” I am enraptured and just plain happy every time I see it.

The 10-episode first season of “The Babysitters Club” begins streaming on Netflix on July 3. It is a re-boot of 1990 HBO series of the same name. Both are based on a best-selling children’s novel series of the same name about the lives of a club composed of young teen girls who all babysit. Kristy Thomas (Sophie Grace) is the lead babysitter character in this series. Her parents, Elizabeth Thomas-Brewer and Watson Brewer, are only adults to be leading characters. They are played by, respectively, ALICIA SILVESTONE, 43, and MARK FEUERSTEIN, 49. Silverstone is still most famous for the teen comedy “Clueless” (1995) and Feuerstein’s most successful TV series was the comedy “Royal Pains”, which ran on the USA channel from 2009 to 2016.

The new “Babysitter” series was co-created by RACHEL SHUKERT, 40, and she wrote three of the episodes. She frequently writes on Jewish topics and she’s the only Jewish author I know of who was born and raised in Omaha.

The original Amazon film “7500” began streaming on June 18. Reviews were mostly very good. It stars JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT, 39, as the American co-pilot of a plane staffed by an international crew. Shortly after take-off, Muslim terrorists attempt to storm the cockpit and hijack the plane. I won’t disclose the rest of the story, except to say that the tension is at a fever pitch for the remainder of the film. This is Gordon-Levitt’s first film role release in four years. He’s explained that he was busy with the birth of his two children.

On Jon Stewart’s Movie: “Irresistible”

“Irresistible”, a political satire, directed and written by JON STEWART, opened to mostly bad reviews last week. I thought that the film, about competing political strategists, would stumble. I thought that it would build up to an unreal “kumbaya” end in which Dems and Republicans embrace. My reasoning: While Stewart, 57, generally criticized the Right more on his talk show, he took, to my mind, a Pollyanna-ish view that everything would be alright if both sides just turned down their rhetoric. He didn’t seem to realize we were in a new era after Obama’s election. Obama was viciously attacked by the Right and the Tea Party engaged in bare knuckle politics. Stewart responded by sponsoring a “Rally for Sanity” on Oct. 30, 2010. 200,000 people attended this anti-harsh political rhetoric event. A few days later, the bare knuckle tactics of the Tea Party prevailed at the ballot box and the GOP took the House back.

Well, “Irresistible” doesn’t end in everybody loving it other. To paraphrase the NY Times review, it’s a plodding, not very funny, now dated story about two rival, top political strategists (played by Steve Carrell and Rose Byrne) involved in a small town mayor’s race with national implications. In one respect, Stewart does go back to his “everybody is equally guilty” tact. He depicts both strategists as slimy folks. But the charge of equal 'slimy-ness' has the effect of obscuring who is right on the issues. That’s why the Times said it had a “hollow core.”  Stewart is talented, and he created the modern comedy/politics talk show, but I think he relied more on his “Daily Show” writers to keep him consistently funny than we knew back when. (Film available through video-on-demand).


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