Jews in the News: Fran Drescher, Dan Levy and Rachel Specter

Streaming/Broadcast Offerings

 “The Stranger”, an original Netflix 8-episode series, will premiere on January 30. It’s based on a 2015 novel of the same name by huge-selling mystery/thriller novelist HARLEN COBEN, 35.  The book was set in New Jersey, where Coben was born and still lives. The mini-series has moved the story to England and the cast is all British. The lead character, Adam Price, believes he has a perfect life when a mysterious stranger approaches him and whispers into his ear a devastating secret (spoiler alert!) about Price’s wife. British Jewish actor PAUL KAYE, 55, has a supporting role (“John Katz”). Kaye is best known in America for playing Thoros of Myr (AKA “the Red Priest”) in “Game of Thrones.”

Starting Feb. 6 on NBC (9:30) is the comedy series “Indebted”. Dave (ADAM PALLY, 37) and Rebecca (Abby Elliot) look forward to some “down time” after their main parenting duties are behind them. Then Dave’s parents, Linda (FRAN DRESCHER, 62) and Stew (STEVEN WEBER, 58), show up without warning on Dave’s doorstep. They are broke and Dave has to take them in (he “owes” them).  The two couples don’t get on that well.

You might best remember Weber as the younger of the two pilot brothers in the ‘90s sit-com “Wings”.  Pally has a host of recent credits, including co-starring roles in “Happy Endings” and “The Mindy Project.” He married his (Jewish) high school sweetheart, DANIELLA LIBEN PALLY, and they have three children.

“Indebted” was created by DAN LEVY, 38, a stand-up comedian and TV comedy series writer/producer. His wife is RACHEL SPECTER, 39, a pretty actress and comedy writer who has a lot of credits. They wed before a rabbi in 2010 and have two children. Specter was born and raised in Tampa and her mother (at last report) taught fourth grade at the Tampa Hillel Day School. Her father is an associate dean at the Tampa-based University of South Florida College of Medicine.

 Everyone knows Drescher as the star of “The Nanny”, the hit ‘90s sit-com. Last month, it was announced that RACHEL “My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” BLOOM, 32, will work with Drescher to bring a musical version of “The Nanny” to Broadway. A “five-star” team of songwriters, producers, etc. are attached to the project.

 “Indebted” was created by DAN LEVY, 38, a stand-up comedian and TV comedy series writer/producer. His wife is RACHEL SPECTER, 39, a pretty actress and comedy writer who has a lot of credits. They have two children.

 Superbowl Notes

The Superbowl will be played on Sunday, Feb. 2. It begins at 6:30PM on Fox. I knew no matter who won the AFC championship (Jan. 18) that a Jewish player would be in the Superbowl. The Kansas City Chiefs vied with Tennessee Titans for the AFC title and K.C. won. MITCHELL SCHWARTZ, 30, was K.C.’s starting offensive right tackle in that game and, as I write this, he’s listed as a starter for the Superbowl. Playing for the Titans was ANTHONY FIRSKER, 24, a tight end. He caught a touchdown in the AFC championship game and, as noted in my last column, a touchdown in the Jan. 6th playoff game against New England. Both players are from religious Jewish homes and both had a bar mitzvah.

Schwartz, an eight-year veteran, has made all-pro, first or second team, four times. He is one of the highest paid NFL defensive players. He has started over 120 consecutive games, a streak that is still on-going. His brother, GEOFF SCHWARTZ, 33, was an NFL offensive guard from 2008-2015.

 A Walk on the Weird Side or What Tribe are You Talking About?

I’ve written before that actor RICHARD BOONE (1917-1981), who is best known as Paladin in the hit ‘50s and ‘60s Western series “Have Gun Will Travel”, was the son of a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father who was a descendant of the brother of pioneer Daniel Boone. I also noted that Boone, who was secular, frequently traveled to Israel in the ‘60s to build up the new Israeli film industry and, in 1979, Prime Minister RABIN presented him with a prestigious medal for his work. Here’s something new: I knew that Boone starred in the first movie filmed (1970) in Israel that was not set in Israel. It was a Western called “Madron”. Well, someone just posted the whole film on Youtube. Just search, on Youtube, for the title. Boone (Madron) and co-star Leslie Caron, now 88, are very good. The movie is just so/so. The hoot is that all the “savage Apaches” and a Mexican bandit are played by Israeli Jewish actors. CHAIM BANAI, a busy Israeli TV actor who died in 2008, age 71, played “Sam Red”, the Apache leader and Madron’s biggest enemy. GABI AMRANI, now 86, and still making movies, played Angel, the bandit. Amrani is almost as good as a Mexican bandit as the late ELI WALLACH. Wallach played the leader of a big gang of Mexican bandits in “The Magnificent Seven,” the classic 1960 Western.


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