Jews in the News: Miriam Shor, Robert Durst and Alison Brie

New on TV and Durst Background

“Weird Loners” premieres on Fox on Tuesday, March 31. Four 30-somethings, who haven’t had romantic luck, end up living together in a Queens, New York townhouse. One of the two female residents is Caryn Goldfarb, a high strung dental hygienist who is “Jewish-by-adoption.” (Becki Newton, who plays Goldfarb, isn’t Jewish). SUSIE ESSMAN, 59 ("Curb Your Enthusiasm", who can be quite funny, plays Caryn's mother. In the April 7 episode, Caryn travels to Florida, at the insistence of her mother, to tell her grandmother the truth about having broken off her wedding engagement. Once there, she cannot bring herself to do it and comes up with another plan. RENEE TAYLOR, 82 (FRAN DRESCHER's mother on "The Nanny") guests as Caryn's grandma.

MIRIAM SHOR, 43, is one of the co-stars of the new TV Land series, “Younger” (starts 10PM, March 31). She plays a publishing firm executive who hires series star Sutton Foster as her assistant. Foster’s character is 40, but makes herself over to appear younger and get the job (she’s also a single mom). Former teen fav Hillary Duff plays Shor’s other assistant.  Shor has guested on a lot of hit shows, while starring in a number of short-lived series

Yes, accused murderer ROBERT DURST, 71 and "Jinxed"/HBO filmmaker ANDREW JARECKI, 54, are Jewish. Yes, the late SUSAN BERMAN, who Durst allegedly killed, was Jewish, too. Durst’s father, SEYMOUR DURST, reigned as head of the real estate company that was the principal source of the family’s wealth until his death in 1995. He was quite a character, not reticent to express his views—he often took out mini-ads on the front page of the New York Times railing at the City’s bureaucracy re: housing and zoning. He was also responsible for the famous national debt clock in Times Square. His father, JOSEPH DURST (1882-1974), was born in Galicia, now in southern Poland. He worked as a store clerk and tailor after coming to America in 1902. By 1912, he was a partner in a successful dress manufacturing company. He moved into real estate big-time in the 1920s. He co-founded a Conservative synagogue in suburban Westchester County and the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in Manhattan and long served as head of the Hebrew Free Loan Association. (“Jewish geography”: Miriam Shor’s career was kick-started by a co-starring role in the hit off-Broadway play, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” [1998]. “Inch” was directed by PETER ASKIN, 70. He’s the son of Seymour Durst’s sister, the late ALMA DURST ASKIN.)

At the Movies: Opening Friday, March 27

“Get Hard” is a comedy starring Will Ferrell as James, a millionaire hedge fund manager who is sentenced to a long stretch in San Quentin and has 30 days to put his affairs in order. He hires Darnell (Kevin Hart) the only African-American he knows, to prep him for prison life (in other words, “get hard”). Darnell hasn’t been to prison and isn’t a criminal—so they have to make educated guesses as to what James should do to “get hard.”  ALISON BRIE, 34, plays Darnell’s “slutty” fiancée.

Many critics branded the flick racist and homophobic after a recent preview festival showing. There is racially-tinged language throughout and, in one scene, James tries to accost a gay man in a public toilet and offers to perform a sex act on him to prepare himself for life in prison. The director, ETAN COHEN, 41, defended the movie in a post-festival press conference, noting it was a satire and the racial humor was “a delicate balance to find…It was hard to modulate…how far to push it.” Cohen was born in Israel to an Orthodox family and raised in the States. This is his directorial debut. He is best known as the writer or co-writer of hits like “Tropic Thunder”.

The documentary, “The Wrecking Crew,” probably won’t open in a theater near you, but it is available on-demand and on I-Tunes (google title). The film title refers to a large group of Los-Angeles based studio musicians who played behind an astonishing number of the biggest rock/pop artists of the 1960s and ’70s. Sometimes they provided all the instrumentation (even if credit was often elusive). Their name was coined by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer HAL BLAINE, 86 (born Chaim Zelmon Belsky), whose 35,000 recordings include the drumming on “Good Vibrations.” Blaine is interviewed in the film, along with many other dual “tribe and crew” members. Two of the more interesting are jazz/rock pianist DON RANDI, 7 & (born Don Schwartz) and guitarist CAROL KAYE, 79, who was virtually unique in her heyday—a top female studio musician. A convert-to-Judaism, Kaye’s musical credits include playing guitar on Richie Valens’ original “La Bamba” and backing some of the best Beach Boys and SIMON and GARFUNKEL recordings.



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