Jews in the News: Mayim Bialik, Alicia Silverstone and Michiel Huisman

Lovable Cat Lady; Jimmy and Bob; Wedding Wars; 2 Surprises

“Call Me Kat,” a new comedy series, premieres on Fox on Jan. 3 at 8:30 PM. The second episode will air at its regular time (Jan. 7, 9:00 PM). MAYIM BIALIK, 44 (“Big Bang Theory”) stars as an unmarried and not successful 39-year-old woman who sinks her life savings into a cat café (much to her mother’s chagrin). Complications ensue when her old crush, Max (played by African-American actor Cheyenne Jackson), takes a job in a piano bar near the café. Jim Parsons, who played Bialik’s husband on “Big Bang”, is an executive producer of “Call Me Kat”. He is gay in real life, as is Cheyenne Jackson. They were asked how they “faked” being romantically interested in Bialik. Parsons gave a great answer: “Everybody loves Mayim. She is easy to love.” Jackson seconded this answer. 

Last September, the documentary “Jimmy Carter: Rock and Roll President” got a brief theater run. It begins streaming on CNN on Jan. 3. Carter, now 96, likes rock and roll, which he made clear even before he became president in 1977.  Many popular musicians are his friends, including BOB DYLAN, 79, Willie Nelson, and Gregg Allman. All three are interviewed in the film.  Dylan rarely gives interviews, but he movingly talks about how he and Carter hit it off during their very first meeting in 1974. They have remained good friends and along the way they both won Nobel Prizes.

“The Groom’s Sister”, a comedy film, was released to video-on-demand services on Dec. 17th without much advance publicity. Most critics didn’t like it and only three important media outlets even reviewed it (two gave thumbs’ down and one liked it). Still, I’m bringing it to your attention because several critics have noted it is trying to be “A Big Fat Jewish Wedding” and maybe it’s soothing to watch a “very Jewish” comedy now. ALICIA SILVERSTONE, 44, plays Audrey the (Jewish) sister of the groom (played by JAKE HOFFMAN, 39. He’s DUSTIN’s son). Audrey intensely dislikes the bride, a sexy, but vain French Jewish model who wants to be a pop star. They frequently clash during the lavish, three-day “event wedding”. The supporting cast includes the late MARK BLUM as Audrey’s father, Belgian Jewish actor RONALD GUTTMAN, 68, as the father of the bride, and MICHAEL BERNARDI, 36, the son of the late HERSCHEL BERNARDI, as an Israeli rabbi “imported” to preside over the nuptials.


It’s great to find out that somebody with a big part in two acclaimed HBO series is Jewish. Dutch actor MICHIEL HUISMAN, 39, makes me happy this week. If you watched “Game of Thrones”, you certainly know him—he played Daario Naharis, a “hot” mercenary leader who allies with Danerys, “the Dragon Queen”, and becomes her lover. Huisman also played Alex, the boyfriend of the title character in “The Flight Attendant”. Alex’s death is the central mystery of the just concluded first season of the series. Here’s the Jewish 411 on Huisman: his mother is Jewish, it’s unclear if his father is Jewish; and his brother, a retired pro soccer player, told a Dutch sports site: “I am Jewish as far as faith is concerned. Friday is therefore a real family day.”

Here’s another surprise: “The Happiest Season”, an original Hulu film that got good reviews, began streaming on Nov. 25. Kristen Stewart, who became a major star because of the hit “Twilight” movies, plays a member of a lesbian couple. They travel to her partner’s family home for Christmas. Problem is that Stewart’s character doesn’t know that her partner hasn’t come out to her conservative parents. ALISON BRIE, 37, VICTOR GARBER, 71, and DAN, 37 (EUGENE LEVY’s son) have big supporting roles.


Just before the film opened, Stewart, 30, spoke to HOWARD STERN, 66. She said her father isn’t Jewish and her mother was adopted by a Jewish couple. She added that she recently took a DNA test and found out that she is: 24% Ashkenazi Jewish.  So, it’s clear that one of her biological maternal grandparents was Jewish. A friend really dug into this info—and we agree that it is virtually certain that her maternal grandmother was Jewish (which makes Stewart a “halachic” Jew). Also, there's an on-line reference to Stewart’s mother belonging to a B’nai Brith youth group. But, Stewart’s many Jewish fans should pause before “kvelling” too much. In 2011, Stewart said that a talent agent signed her after hearing her sing “The Dreidel Song” at a grade school event, but she never celebrated Hanukkah in her home.


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