Jews in the News: Paul Adelstein, Kirk Douglas and Abe Vigoda

Surprisingly Good

I’m sorry that I didn’t clue you into the premiere, on Dec. 2, of the new “scripted” Bravo series, “A Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce.” But, I caught the pilot and can tell you that it’s mucho good.  (New episodes air Tuesdays at 10PM. Many same-week encores. Also on-line). The lead character, Abby McCarthy (LISA EDELSTEIN, 49), is an affluent, middle-aged woman with a teenage daughter and a five-year-old son. She makes a good living from advice books that include a lot of stuff about how good her own marriage is. Problem is that Abby and her husband, Jake (PAUL ADELSTEIN, 45), have long been on the rocks and divorce is looming.

I completely agree with the Hollywood Reporter review: “A bit of a shocker in that almost everything about it works; for a first effort, that's defying the odds and then some…this series is the closest anything in recent memory has come to ‘Sex and the City’ when that series was at its zeitgeisty best….Of particular note is star Edelstein (‘House’), whose performance is exceptional — there's really no overselling how outstanding she is in every scene, which is essential to convincing viewers that the show is not only worth a look, but a full commitment.”

Adelstein, as I said in a September column, has been married since 2006 to actress LIZA WEIL, 37, and they have one child. Weil currently appears in the ABC series, “How to Get Away with Murder.” By the way, that is CARRIE FISHER, 58, briefly appearing as Abby’s literary agent in the pilot.

Father Time

“People” magazine had some egg on their face when they accidentally posted (Nov.30) an obituary of actor KIRK DOUGLAS on their website. Douglas, who turned 98 on Dec. 9, quoted Mark Twain (whose death was also mis-reported) when he spoke to a “USA Today” reporter on Dec. 1: "The announcement of my death is premature."

The false report created much internet chatter, some of which was fairly amusing. NY Daily News readers' web comments included, “I am not dead, and I am Spartacus!” and “Hey, Kirk, say hello to ABE VIGODA!.” You may recall that Vigoda (“The Godfather” and “Barney Miller”) was reported as dead in a 1982 “People” article and that a TV reporter repeated the mistake in 1987. Vigoda, now 93, has often joked about his “death” with TV hosts.

Meanwhile, hitting the century mark in 2014 were Professor IRWIN COREY, the comedian, (last June) and actor NORMAN LLOYD (last November). Just before a big 100th birthday party at a New York actors’ club, Corey told the “Daily News”: “I hope they give me an 18-year-old girl.”

Lloyd, who appeared in several Hitchcock films and produced the “Alfred Hitchcock Hour” TV show,  is probably best known for playing Dr. Aushlander on the TV show “St. Elsewhere.” He still plays tennis twice a week and has a biggish supporting role in “Trainwreck”, a JUDD APATOW film that will open in July, 2015.

HOWIE MANDEL, 59, a “St. Elsewhere” co-star, said: "I love Norman Lloyd. He is a legend. I have spent hours like a little kid while he regaled us with stories of Hitchcock. He teaches, he entertains. He is a legend!"

This Week’s Big Movie

Director Ridley Scott’s $140 million dollar biblical opus, “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” opens wide on Friday, Dec. 12 and there will be no lack of reviews you can consult. As I write this, the consensus of advance reviews is what I expected as this “Moses Story” was being made: some good acting from a cast that includes first rate actors like Christian Bale (Moses) and some good special effects.

But the screenwriter hasn’t crafted, reviews said, a strong or moving script---and then there’s the fact that there isn’t a single Jewish actor in the cast---and black actors only appear as slaves, which isn’t exactly historically accurate. (FYI: cast member Ben Kingsley may have had one Jewish grandparent; cast member Ben Mendelsohn had one Jewish grand).

Scott defended his decision not to cast more Jewish or Egyptian-looking actors in big parts in economic terms. He couldn’t get money to make the film if he didn’t use big-name “very white” actors. Maybe this is true.

But that doesn’t excuse re-enforcing the stereotype that sub-Saharan blacks were only slaves in the ancient world—and, my bigger kvetch: do we really need another Biblical movie whose major selling point is special effects equal to that in movies based on Marvel comics? 

Scott, 78, would have served his legacy and posterity better if he had made that very rare thing: a literate, moving, thought-provoking movie based on a biblical theme.



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