Jews in the News: Mila Kunis, BJ Novack and Mayim Bialik

Three Very Different Movies and Two TV Shows
“Luckiest Girl Alive”, an original Netflix film, premieres on Oct. 7. It is based on the best-selling 2015 novel of the same name by Jessica Knoll.
Several years after her book’s publication, Knoll disclosed that many of the horrific things that her novel’s lead character experienced actually happened to Knoll. This includes gang rape. I mention this last detail to let you know that this film is for adults and it is serious stuff. It is not an October/Halloween “spooky” mystery film.
Here's a summary of the film “set-up”: Ani FaNelli (played by MILA KUNIS, 39), is a smart New Yorker who appears to have it all: a great job at a glossy magazine, a killer wardrobe, and a pending fancy wedding to a handsome and wealthy guy. But when the director of a crime documentary invites her to tell her side of a shocking incident that took place when she was a teenager at a prestigious private school, Ani is forced to confront the dark secrets that threaten to unravel her carefully crafted life.
On the other hand, “Grimcutty”, an original Hulu film, is most certainly a Halloween season horror/thriller. It begins streaming on October 10. Here’s the “official” description:” a scary internet meme called “Grimcutty” stirs panic among parents in a small town. They think it’s making their kids harm themselves and others. Then a real-life version of Grimcutty starts attacking teen Asha Caudry, but no one believes her.”
The supporting cast includes ALONA TAL, 38. You may recognize this pretty actress, who was born and raised in Israel. Tal has had dozens of guest shots on American TV series since 2005. Her film work, however, has been in little seen, low budget movies. My guess is that given her age, Tal plays a Grimcutty parent.
 DAVID O. RUSSELL, 64, is the director and writer of the “star-studded” film “Amsterdam”, which opens on Oct. 7. Here’s the capsule plot: Three friends meet in Amsterdam during the 1910s and form a pact to protect each other “no matter what”. Fast forward to the 1930s and the friends---a doctor (Christian Bale), an attorney (John David Washington), and a nurse (Margot Robbie)—are falsely accused of murder and are forced to seek the truth behind the crime.
Russell, the always-secular son of a Jewish father and an Italian Catholic mother, has written and directed nine films since 1994 and the last seven were hits. The biggest hits were “The Fighter”, “Hustle”, and “Silver Linings Playbook”. “Amsterdam” is his first film since 2015.
Sadly, the big cast has no Jewish actors, but I will note that the cinematography is by EMANUEL LUBEZKI, 57, who was born and raised in Mexico. He won the Oscar for best cinematography in three successive years (2014-2016). He’s taken a break since then. “Amsterdam” is first film since 2017. 
The CBS police show, "East New York", premiered last Sunday. (New episodes air on Sundays at 9PM). African-American actress Amanda Ward stars as Regina Haywood, a police inspector who has just been promoted to lead a precinct in a historically poor Brooklyn neighborhood that is just starting to gentrify. Veteran character actor RICHARD KIND, 65, plays Capt. Stan Yenko, Hayward’s friendly and efficient right hand. (CBS posts on-line the first episodes of their new series. Free to view.)
“Celebrity Jeopardy” premiered on Sunday, Sept. 25, on ABC.  New episodes air on Sundays at 8PM.  The host is MAYIM BIALIK, 46.
I previously wrote that actor BJ NOVAK, 44, and stand-up comedian ILIZA SHLESINGER, 39, would appear as contestants. As I wrote that column, I unknowingly was working off an incomplete list of contestants that somebody “leaked” to many media outlets. .
I now know that the show’s policy is not to release the name of a contestant until two weeks before their episode airs.
Twenty-seven contestants compete in the “the first round” (3 to a game). The first game (9/25) featured three, non-Jewish celeb players.  Simu Liu, a Canadian actor, won the first game and he advances to a playoff-round. The other two “went home”.
As you read this, stand-up comedian IILIZA SHLESINGER, 39, will have competed in the second episode (aired on Oct. 2). I just learned that comedic actor IKE BARINHOLTZ, 45, will compete in the game airing on Oct. 9. Here’s hoping one, or both, wins and we see them in play-off episodes.
Novak and, perhaps, other Jewish celebs will appear on Celebrity Jeopardy. But the show simply doesn’t give “us” much advance “booking” info (ABC posts all Celebrity Jeopardy episodes on-line for free viewing).


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