Jews in the News: Pamela Adlon, Max Winkler and Bob Saget

Free Trial Time, Better Things/Pam/Pieces of Her, Saget Did Diapers, Too

 Very few new movies are in the “pipeline” to theaters, so now’s the time to try those premium channel “free trials”.  On March 2, HBO Max and Disney+ began streaming “West Side Story”. In our “weird” times, it didn’t earn mega-bucks in theaters, but I predict that the streaming viewership will be huge and that may boost the film’s Oscar chances.

The comedy/drama series "Better Things" began its long-delayed 5th and final season on Feb. 28. New episodes premiere on FX on Mondays and on Hulu the next day. Two 30-minute episodes streamed on the 28th or on the 1st. One episode per week after that (easy to catch-up via on-demand).

I have often mentioned this series, which stars PAMELA ADLON, 55, as a Jewish divorced mother of three daughters whom she is raising alone. Adlon co-created this semi-autobiographical series. Her character, Sam Fox, is an often-struggling Hollywood actress who does a lot of voice-over parts. Adlon, too, has done a lot of voice-over work, and, while she never struggled financially as much as Fox, she had some rough-ish patches.

She and her ex-husband, Felix Adlon, split in 2010 and he returned to Europe. Their three daughters are now actresses: GIDEON ADLON, 24; ODESSA ADLON, 21, who now calls herself Odessa A'zion, and VALENTINE "ROCKY" ADLON, 17.

The prestigious Peabody Award is not given to a TV series every year, but "Better Things" won a Peabody in 2017. Here's part of what the award said:  "[...] this searingly funny and beautiful show is an at-times raw examination of the vicissitudes of working motherhood, crackling with feminist verve and energy that consistently cuts new ground".

 Pamela Adlon wrote the first and last final season episodes herself and co-wrote two other final season episodes.

Gideon Adlon, who co-starred in the hit movie "Blockers" (2017), has a large supporting role in "The Thing About Pam", a 4-episode mini-series that began airing on NBC (yes, regular NBC), on March 8 (10PM).  Renee Zellweger stars as Pam Hupp, 63, a (real) serial killer now in prison. Hupp attempted to frame a guy named Russ Farina for the murder of his wife. Gideon Adlon, who looks like a younger clone of Pamela, plays Mariah, the Farinas' 17-year-old daughter.

“Pieces of Her” is an 8-episode series that began streaming on Netflix on March 4. It’s based on an acclaimed novel of the same name about a sadly familiar American “thing”: a guy goes into a diner and kills many people for no reason. Spoiler: He is stopped by Laura Oliver (Toni Collette), who demonstrates “violent moves” that stun her adult daughter. Turns out, “mom” has quite a past. The fame Laura gets from this incident could alert her estranged family about her location and endanger her life.

JESSICA BARDEN, 29, plays Jane, an important member of Laura’s estranged family. Born in England, Barden now lives in Los Angeles with her husband, director MAX WINKLER, 38, and their infant daughter. Max is the son of HENRY WINKLER, 76. Barden is a Jew-by-choice.

All 8 episodes were directed by MINKA SPIRO, 51. She’s someone special you should know about. She was born and raised in the U.K., one of 7 children of an amazing couple, NITZA and ROBIN SPIRO. They are college educators who founded and run the Nitza Spiro Center in London. The Center offers Jewish cultural events and courses in Jewish history, culture, and languages.

Minka, a former Fulbright scholar, is married to an Israeli Jewish chef who often brings goodies to her TV sets. They have two daughters.

Spiro has directed many “prestige” TV shows in the UK and in the States. In a 2014 profile, the author marveled how Spiro, a tiny woman, got the “Downton Abbey” cast to dutifully follow her direction. Also, as you may have guessed, Ms. Spiro is eloquent about Jewish “things”—whether that was discussing “Downton” episodes that featured a Jewish character—or directing several episodes of the “very Jewish” HBO series “The Plot Against America”. 

Like everyone else, I am still shaking my head about the odd circumstances of BOB SAGET's death. However, here’s a story from Saget’s autobiography that made me, and friends smile. The Olsen twins were barely a year old when they started on “Full House” and Saget actually changed their diapers a couple of times. Both times the camera was rolling when they, “you know”, and Saget wanted the twins to be dry as they filmed a scene. He may be the only male actor, ever, to diaper his co-stars.



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