Jews in the News: Riselle Bain, Jake Gyllenhaal and Henry Winkler

Ten Commandments Insider Stuff; Two Big Budget Flicks, Super Jewish Lawyer

 Every year, around Passover, ABC airs “The Ten Commandments”, the 1956 blockbuster about the life of Moses and the Israelites flight from Egypt. A few weeks ago, it was scheduled to air on April 17. For unreason reasons, it was suddenly changed to April 9, too late for me to alert you to see it. I wanted you to see it, because as I said in a February column, I was recently contacted by Cantor RISELLE BAIN, 74, who played "Young Miriam" in the film.

I just completed an "amazing" long interview with Bain, which I will write about in the near future.

 The good news is that there's a (free) complete, high-quality copy of the film on Youtube. On Youtube, search for "The Ten Commandments" (1956) and you'll find it. Bain's scene is this copy's first part, about 4 minutes into the movie. Bain, as Young Miriam, steps into the Nile River and puts the basket holding the baby Moses into the river. Actually, Bain told me, she wasn’t in a river. She was in a big tub filled with warm water.

In the film, it seems like Miriam is looking out on the Nile. But Bain wasn’t really doing that. It was a special effect. She was actually looking at director Cecil DeMille, who told her exactly what do (facial expressions, etc.)

 Two big-budget films with a "Jewish connection" opened "wide" last week and are still in theaters: "Ambulance", an action-thriller, and "Sonic: The Hedgehog 2", a combination animation and live-action film that is appropriate for "children of all ages.".

 Here’s the capsule plot of "Ambulance": William Sharp, an African American war vet, needs $231K for his wife’s surgery. He turns to his adoptive brother Danny (JAKE GYLLENHAAL, 41), a career criminal. Their attempt to rob a bank goes wrong---they shoot a police officer and flee in an ambulance carrying the wounded police officer and an EMT.

 Last February, “Esquire” interviewed Gyllenhaal. He told “Esquire” that it was time for him to “do some big action movies again”—and that’s the type of films that “Ambulance” director MICHAEL BAY, 57, makes (“Transformers”, “Pearl Harbor”).

 The first Sonic Hedgehog film (2020) was based on a popular video game of the same name. It was a huge box-office office hit despite getting mixed reviews (story not so great; cast very good). The title character is a “humanized” blue hedgehog who can travel at supersonic speed. He’s a good guy who wants to help people. Sonic is animated in the original and in the sequel.

BEN SCHWARTZ, 40, voiced Sonic in both Sonic flicks. Schwartz has had many film and TV roles, but it hard to cite a role everyone knows. I best remember him in his recurring role as Jean Ralphio-Saperstein (what a name!) on “Parks and Rec”. HENRY WINKLER played his father, a doctor, and JENNY SLATE played his crazy sister, Mona-Lisa Saperstein.

 Reprising their original Sonic film roles are Jim Carrey (as Sonic’s arch enemy) and James Marsden (as a sheriff who is a friend of Sonic).

ADAM PALLY, 40, makes his “Sonic” debut in “Sonic 2”. He plays a deputy sheriff who serves under Marsden’s character. Pally is a real-life pal of Schwartz. The two have long been in a three-man comedy improv troupe that performs on stage now-and-again.

 The six-part, NBC true-crime series “The Thing About Pam” concluded on April 14. (Binge it. Free to watch on Peacock. Also on Hulu). Reviews were mixed, but the true story was so weird that the series held my attention. As I previously wrote, the title character (played by Renee Zellweger) murdered a close female friend and attempted to frame her friend’s husband (Russ Farina) for the murder. GIDEON ADLON, 25, has a supporting role as the Farinas’ daughter.

Long story short: I noticed that the murders happened near St. Louis. I contacted a St. Louis friend and he was able to confirm that (real-life) defense attorney JOEL SCHWARTZ, now 60, is Jewish. I am reliably informed that Schwartz, and his band, played many bar mitzvahs when he was a teenager. He’s also an active amateur actor and his first role was in a play put on at the St. Louis JCC.

Schwartz (played by Josh Duhamel) is the hero of the series. He is a super-competent, super ethical defense attorney who did everything humanly possible to uncover the evidence that ultimately proved that Farina was a completely innocent man.


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