Jews in the News: Morley Safer, Seth Rogen and Maya Rudolph

The Beat Goes On

Every tribute from his colleagues for the late MORLEY SAFER emphasized his talent (writing and on-air interviewer), his kindness, and his humility. Of course, they also mentioned his remarkable longevity stats, like if you watched his 900 stories for “60 Minutes” for eight hours a day—it would take you a month to watch them all. Not oft noted was the fact that Safer and his former co-host MIKE WALLACE (1918-2012) worked together on “60 Minutes” for almost 40 years (1970-2008).  LESLEY STAHL, 74, is the remaining Jewish “60 Minutes” host. She’s held her current job since 1991 and 25 years is a “great number”. But she would have to remain a host until she was 96 to surpass Safer’s tenure. Well, as Wallace and Safer proved, almost anything is possible.

Safer and Stahl aren’t the only aged Hebrews with great career longevity. It was just announced that BETTE MIDLER, 70, will star in the title role of a Broadway revival of “Hello, Dolly”. It is set to open on April 20, 2017. David Hyde Pierce (“Fraser”) will co-star. Set to direct is four-time Tony award winner JERRY ZAKS, 69. His Polish Jewish parents survived the Holocaust (his mother was in Auschwitz; his father hid his identity). They came to America in 1948 and his father opened a kosher butcher shop in East Patterson, New Jersey. There was nothing in his background that led him into the theater. But he was blown away by a musical at college and found his career.  He’s proven to be a very adept dramatic and musical director (including “Little Shop of Horrors” and “La Cage Aux Folles”)

The film version of “Hello, Dolly” (1969) starred BARBRA STREISAND, now 74, and the late WALTER MATTHAU. While it’s been almost a half-century (!) since its release, Ms. Streisand is still wowing them. In August, she’ll tour the country playing ten major cities (closest to Cincinnati--Chicago, Aug. 9). Meanwhile, HERB ALPERT, who also became famous in the early '60s, is still touring because he just enjoys performing (he's very wealthy and to his credit, a big philanthropist). Alpert, 81, will play the Carlyle Hotel in New York City from May 31 to June 8. Accompanying him is his wife of forty-two years, singer LANI HALL, 70, the mother of his daughter, ARIA, 41. (his first wife, and the mother of his other two children, is also Jewish).

I just found out that Alpert had an uncredited part as a drummer on Mt. Sinai in the 1956 blockbuster, “The Ten Commandments.” I thought that all the credited actors have died--although I knew that Robert “Man from U.N.C.L.E” Vaughn, now 83, appeared as an uncredited Hebrew slave. Well, I checked and there is a credited actor still alive and she’s Jewish. JOANNA MERLIN, 84, played one of Jethro’s daughters (not the one MOSES married). Born Joanne Ratner, she was in the original Broadway company of “Fiddler on the Roof”, but left before the show opened to take care of her two young children. Happily, she recovered, career-wise, and she appeared in over 40 films and in scores of TV guest shots. She guested (2000-2011) in 43 episodes of “Law and Order: SVU” as Judge Lena Petrovsky.

At the Movies and on TV

If you like “Neighbors,” which starred SETH ROGEN, 34, and Rose Byrne as new parents who go ballistic when a noisy frat takes over the house next door—you’ll probably love “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising.”  Rogen and Byrne have moved, but their bad luck holds when a sorority worse than the frat boys takes over the house next door. Rogen enlists best friend Jimmy (IKE BARINHOLTZ, 38) to help him and Jimmy, in turn, enlists former frat leader Teddy (Zac Efron) as their secret anti-sorority weapon.

ELISABETH “Beanie” FELDSTEIN, 23, the sister of JONAH HILL, 32, plays one of the three principal sorority “enemies”.  Other tribe members: DAVE FRANCO, 30 (Teddy’s best friend); LISA KUDROW, 52 (college dean); and CLARA MAMET, 21, (sorority member). Clara is the daughter of playwright DAVID MAMET, 68, and singer/actress REBECCA PIDGEON, 50, a Jew-by-choice. Her half sister, ZOSIA, 28, is a “Girls” star. This film opened last Friday, but trust me—it’s still in theaters.

MAYA RUDOLPH, 43, and Martin Short are the co-hosts of “Maya and Marty in Manhattan,” a live variety show (music and sketches) that premieres on Tuesday, May 31 at 10PM. Rudolph, a former “SNL” star, made a moving appearance earlier this year on the PBS series “Finding Your Roots.”  Her father is Jewish (her late mother African-American). However, she knew almost nothing about her father’s family because her Jewish grandfather cut virtually all ties to his parents.


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