Jews in the News: Miguel Sapochnik, David Horovitch and John Hamburg

 House of the Dragon, Exploring More Roots, New Netflix Comedy
"House of the Dragon”, a 10-episode prequel to the mega-hit series “The Game of Thrones” (“GOT”), began streaming (HBO) on Aug. 21. It is set 200 years before the events in GOT. As the series opens, the Seven Kingdoms (on the continent of Westeros) are ruled by Viserys, a popular king. He is the fifth member of the Targaryen family to rule the Seven Kingdoms. The Targayren conquest of Westros, and their subsequent rule, was made possible by the Targaryens’ fire-breathing dragons. The dragons have a “mystical” tie to the family.
The pilot episode was directed by MIGUEL SAPOCHNIK, 48. He was born in the U.K., the son of Argentine Jewish parents. Sapochnik was the “go-to” director for the most spectacular GOT battle episodes.
As with GOT, most of the cast is British. The recurring cast includes DAVID HOROVITCH, 76, as Grand Maester Mellos, a trusted advisor to Viserys. GOT fans know that a “Maester” is a scholar and/or scientist on the King’s payroll.
Horovitch is a busy British character actor. He’s the son of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother and was raised without religion. However, he has played several Jewish roles and, through them, he says, he’s learned something about Judaism.
FABIEN FRANKEL, 28, another Brit, and a good looking fellow, plays Ser Christin Cole, an important regular cast member. Ser Christin rose from a “commoner” background to knighthood and he’s a great swordsman (In real life, Frankel is a trained fencer).
Frankel has so few acting credits that Wikipedia lists him as a cast “regular”, but provides no biography at all.  Well, some digging reveals Frankel’s interesting background, and some very sad details. Fabien’s father was (the very handsome) actor MARK FRANKEL. He was killed in a motorcycle/truck accident in 1996, age 34.
Mark was on the cusp of a really big career—he had just started getting star roles in major British TV series. Mark was also a world class tennis player who won the Monto Carlo Open. He had a Jewish funeral.
Mark’s mother was an Indian Jew from Mumbai. His English Jewish father served as a pilot in the Royal Air Force.  Mark and his brother, JOE, were also skilled pilots. Joe did stunt flying and was killed (1991) during an air show.
Fabien was 2 years old when his father died, and his only sibling, a brother, was born posthumously. I don’t know much about Caroline Besson, the brothers’ mother and Mark’s widow. She is French, was an ad company executive, and has re-married. 
“House of the Dragon” is based on “Fire and Blood”, a 2018 novel by GOT novels writer George R.R. Martin. Martin was on the PBS ancestry show, “Finding Your Roots” in 2019 and it was revealed that Martin’s paternal grandfather was not a Catholic Italian-American, as Martin was told. DNA proved that his paternal grandfather was an “unknown” Jewish guy. I thought of this when, last week, “Roots” announced its celebrity line-up for its next season. The list is laden with big name stars. I wonder if any of those celebs will have a “Jewish reveal” too?
The 9th season of “Roots” will premiere next January. Here’s the list: RICHARD KIND, 65, DAVID DUCHOVNY,62, Julia Roberts, Jeff Daniels, Claire Danes, Viola Davis, Carol Burnett, and Edward Norton.
Kind is a busy comedic character actor (“Spin City”, “Mad About You”, “Curb Your Enthusiasm) who happens to be the least-known actor on this list. Not so,Duchovny, who has been a star since he got a lead role (1993) in the hit TV series “The X-Files”. He’s the secular son of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother. 
“Me Time” is an original Netflix flick that premieres on August 26. Here’s the “official” description: When a stay-at-home dad (Kevin Hart) finds himself with some “me time” for the first time in years while his wife and kids are away, he reconnects with his former best friend (Mark Wahlberg) for a wild weekend that nearly upends his life.
The film was written and directed by JOHN HAMBURG, 52. He has written a number of hit films, including “Meet the Parents” and its sequel, “Little Fockers”; “Along Came Polly”, and “I Love You Man”. He also directed the last two films.
I have to note that his most recent films (“Why Him” and “Night School”) did fine at the box-office, but were panned by critics. They only had a scene or two that made the ‘discerning’ filmgoer really laugh.  I hope that “Me Time” is a return to form. 


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