Jews in the News: Patricia Arquette, Scarlett Johansson and Jesse Eisenberg

Monster Mommy, Funny Vampires, and A Crabby Wedding Note

“The Act”, a true crime series, premieres on Hulu on March 20. The first, five- episode season of “The Act” is based on the real story of Dee Dee Blanchard and her daughter, Gypsy Rose Blanchard. Dee Dee is played by PATRICIA ARQUETTE, 50, and Gypsy is played by JOEY KING, 19. Most reviewers are calling King’s performance outstanding and many say this is a breakthrough dramatic performance for her.

Gypsy was born in 1991. From the time she was eight years old, her mother falsely insisted that she had a variety of serious chronic conditions. Gypsy was confined to a wheelchair and she was home schooled because of her “illnesses.” Doctors suspected the illnesses/conditions that Dee Dee said Gypsy had were not real but never called in the authorities. Dee Dee loved the attention her “sick” child brought her and enjoyed benefits, like the house Habitat for Humanity built for her and Gypsy. When Gypsy became a teen, Dee Dee kept her “in line” via physical abuse. In 2015, Gypsy enlisted the help of a young man, Nicholas, she met on-line and, as they planned, he killed her mother. (The first two episodes started streaming on March 20. The last three episodes stream on Mar. 27, Apr. 3, 10)

Starting March 27 on FX cable (10PM) is “What We Do in the Shadows,” a comic documentary series that follows four vampires who have been roommates for hundreds of years in New York City. BEANIE FELDSTEIN, 25, the sister of JONAH HILL, 35, has a recurring role. The series is based on a 2014 indie hit film of the same name directed by and co-written by TAIKA WAITITI, 43. He co-produces the TV series, too. From New Zealand, Waititi’s father is native Polynesian (Maori) and his mother is Jewish. He had a blockbuster hit with “Thor Ragnarok” (2017) and has just about completed “Jo Jo Rabbit”, a film with an anti-Nazi theme. SCARLETT JOHANSSON, 34, co-stars.

“Glee” star Lea Michele, 32, wed ZANDY REICH, 36, on Mar. 9.  Reich is the head of AYR, a women’s clothing company.  No details yet on whether it was a secular or religious wedding. I’m writing about the nuptials because I’m sure that I’m the only media source (about the wedding) that really knows that the groom is Jewish. When Reich was a top lacrosse player at the Univ. of Pennsylvania my friends at Jewish Sports Review magazine confirmed that he was Jewish.

Michele, whose father is Jewish, was raised in her in mother’s Catholic faith. That happens, of course. But what has always annoyed me about Michele is that she said she was “raised both” when a writer for Jewish papers asked about her faith when “Glee” was about to premiere. Michele obviously was looking for and got a feature spot in this writer’s article. That wouldn’t have happened if she said she was “a Catholic, with a Jewish dad.”  However, when “Glee” became a hit, Michele was just fine with telling the world that she was raised a church-going Catholic.

Eisenberg on Film, On Stage, and Getting Personal

“The Hummingbird Project” stars JESSE EISENBERG, 35, and Alexander Skarsgard as cousins of Russian Jewish background who, as the film opens, work in technical support for a nasty company with an even-nastier boss (Salma Hayek). They realize they could make millions if they can lay a faster fiber-optical line from Wall Street’s electronic core in Kansas to the Street’s New Jersey data bank (it only has to be a bit faster than the existing line—the time it takes a hummingbird to once beat its wings). They go out on their own to build the line and face geographical challenges as well as legal attacks from their old company. Advance reviews are incredibly mixed (raves and pans). (Opens April 5 in Tampa)

Eisenberg recently talked to Seth Meyers about this film and his play “Happy Talk,” which opens off-Broadway on April 30. Susan Sarandon stars as a suburban New Jersey housewife who has to juggle dealing with her unhappy family while, at the same time, getting ready to play a major role in a production of the musical “South Pacific” at her Jewish Community Center.

In 2017, Eisenberg finally married his longtime, “on-and-off” Jewish girlfriend, ANNA STROUT, now 41. They now have a son. They reside part of the year in Bloomington, Indiana, her hometown. They are very involved in helping a domestic violence shelter in Bloomington. Strout’s late mother was the head of the shelter for 30 years.


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