Jews in the News: William Shatner, Natalie Portman and Richard Belzer

Hallmark Doesn’t Do Its Very Best

Last week, the Hallmark Channel pulled an ad featuring a lesbian wedding and, after a firestorm of protests, reversed itself and apologized. Hallmark pulled the ad after a protest by a group that calls itself “One Million Moms.”  Before the reversal, WILLIAM “Capt. Kirk” SHATNER was one of Hallmark’s biggest critics. Shatner, 88, tweeted: “Shame on Hallmark Channel. Put the commercials back! 1milmoms has 4K followers. I have 2.5 million and my friends have more. Who are you going to listen to? They are NOT a majority here. Both me and my followers watch your shows, do they? #loveislove Do the right thing.”

 There wasn’t a firestorm about two new Hallmark Channel original holiday movies with Jewish characters that premiered this month (“Holiday Date” and “Double Holiday”). However, the films were so bad that the New York Times and the Washington Post published long, scathing reviews. The Post said they “relied on anti-Semitic tropes.”  The Times was only a little kinder. Both thought “Holiday Date” was particularly egregious. The premise is that a woman hires a Jewish actor to play her boyfriend and join her at her family’s house for Christmas. The Times says it’s absurd that the Jewish fake boyfriend knew nothing about Christmas. The Post says the boyfriend’s “sneaky” role fits anti-Semitic stereotypes.

Year End Confession

Recently, I reviewed some of my previous columns and re-visited some mistakes I made that I spotted after the column was submitted. While I correct very rare serious errors in my next column, I am reluctant to use precious space to correct minor errors (this column also appears in print publications). This week I have some space. So, here goes: in my Sept. 27th column, I had an item on 2019 Jewish NFL players. I somehow omitted MITCHELL SCHWARTZ, 30, a Kansas City offensive tackle. An 8-year veteran and a former bar mitzvah boy, Schwartz was first team all-pro last season.

In my Oct. 4 column, I said that Nick Offerman appeared in “Lucy”, a NATALIE PORTMAN film. Offerman is in the film, but he isn’t Jewish. I knew that, but I guess my brain was somewhere else. Perhaps I was thinking of NICK KROLL, 41, who is Jewish and has been in a lot of things lately. Also on Oct. 4, I had a list of Jews who served as the political leader of their country. I should have included BRUNO KREISKY, who was chancellor of Austria (1970-83).

Briefly Noted

“Parade Magazine” reports that the bright colored lipsticks that characters on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” wear got so many inquiries from viewers that Revlon has introduced a line called the “Marvelous Super Lustrous Collection”. Parade also reports that the lipstick colors used in the show are a planned signal about the character’s feelings. For example, if Mrs. Maisel, or another woman character, is wearing the bold “Fire & Ice” color, she is feeling strong. If she is wearing the slightly pinker “”Cherries in the Snow” color, she is feeling more vulnerable.

Some of this season’s “Mrs. Maisel” scenes were filmed on location at the Fountainebleu hotel in Miami. The hotel’s architecture is so “over-the-top” that for a long period of time most of the architecture establishment labeled it garish. Now, its exuberance is celebrated by most of the architecture world. Opened in 1954, the Fountainbleu was designed by architect MORRIS LAPIDUS (1902-2001), a Jewish immigrant from the Ukraine who marched to his own drummer.


NBC will air the special “The Paley Center Salutes Law & Order: SVU” on Thursday, Jan. 2, at 9PM. The series is now in its 20th season.  I expect that RICHARD BELZER, 75, will appear on the special. He played the (Jewish) police detective John Munch for the first 15 “SVU” seasons. Before “SVU”, Belzer played Munch in 7 seasons of the series “Homicide Life on the Street.”  The Belzer character was based on JAY LANDSMAN, a real life Jewish police officer.

As I write this, it is a day after the President’s impeachment and a day after Nancy Pelosi surprised everyone by delaying the transfer of articles of impeachment to the Senate until she’s satisfied that a fair trial, including witnesses, will take place in the Senate. Immediately, better pundits pointed to an article in the “Washington Post,” published two days before the impeachment vote, by LAURENCE TRIBE, 78. In this article, he suggested the strategy that Pelosi is pursuing. A Harvard Law professor, Tribe has long been a top constitutional scholar.


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