At the Movies: Opens Friday, June 16
“The Book of Henry” centers on Henry Carpenter, a precocious 11-year old boy who is being raised, along with his younger brother, by a single mother, Susan (Naomi Watts). Henry has a crush on the young girl next door. He discovers she’s being abused by her stepfather, the Police Commissioner. He writes down a plan in a book to rescue her. His mother reads the book and decides to act on his plan. SARAH SILVERMAN, 46, has a big supporting part as Susan’s friend.
Surprisingly, “All Eyez on Me,” a film about famous African-American rapper Tupac Shakur (1971-1996) has many Jewish connections. Born in Harlem, Shakur and his family moved to Baltimore in 1986. There, in high school, he met and became life-long great friends with Jada Pinkett (later Jada Pinkett Smith, the wife of Will Smith).
Pinkett, who is a big character in this film, is played by KAT GRAHAM, 27. Graham, the daughter of a Liberian-born black music executive and an American Jewish mother, was raised Jewish and attended Hebrew School. She’s been acting since age six and also has had considerable success as a dancer and recording artist. This may be her breakthrough film role. Perhaps she got cast because her father was great friends with African-American music producer Quincy Jones and his family.
In 1993, Shakur publicly attacked Jones for having children (RASHIDA and KIDADA) with a white woman (then wife PEGGY LIPTON, now 70). Rashida, then only 17, furiously attacked Shakur in a public letter. Later, Shakur apologized after meeting Kidada, now 43. Kidada and Shakur were engaged at the time of Shakur’s murder. (Kidada is played by actress Annie Ilonzeh).
Finally, there’s LEILA STEINBERG, now 55, who was a huge artistic and personal mentor to Shakur in his late teens. She’s played by LAURA COHAN, 35 (“The Walking Dead”).
Rashida, whom firmly identifies as Jewish, has gone on to a great acting, writing and producing career (including “Parks and “Recreation,” and “Angie Tribeca”). On Monday, June 12, she was scheduled to receive the SAG-AFTRA Actor’s Inspiration Award which, in the words of the organization, is given “to honor her tireless dedication for tackling issues around global poverty, improving health outcomes for people battling AIDS and cancer, and for using her artistic platform to support several important charities.” (These charities include those helping refugees and protecting the world’s oceans).
On Netflix and HBO: Kroll and Miller
On June 13, Netflix began streaming a recorded version of the stage play, “Oh, Hello on Broadway.” It stars comedian NICK KROLL, 39 and John Mulaney as two strange elderly men and features a lot of improv as they often go off the loose script. Kroll and Mulaney have playing these characters (Gil Faizon and George St. Geegeland) for over a decade. Introducing them first in “Comedy Central” sketches and then touring them (in “Oh, Hello”) to packed theaters in 2015. This acclaim propelled “Oh,Hello” into a Broadway theater last fall.
Comedian T.J. MILLER, whose mother is Jewish, has a stand-up special (“Meticulously Ridiculous”) which will premiere on HBO on Saturday evening, June 17. Miller, 36, has had a huge career boost in the last few years: He co-starred in the mega-hit “Deadpool (playing Jack Hammer/the Weasel)—and everyone loves his performance as the wacky tech entrepreneur Erlich Bachman in “Silicon Valley” on HBO.
Miller shocked “Silicon Valley” fans when he announced last month that he was leaving the show at the end of its current, fifth season (June 25). It’s his choice, he said. He wasn’t written out of the show. Miller was vague on why he’s leaving. Basically, he said, it was the just right time to go.
Shalom, Vanessa; May Great Things Lay Ahead!
VANESSA BAYER, 35, announced a few weeks ago that she is leaving “SNL” after seven seasons. Known for her big smile and versatility, she became a leading cast member with spot-on impersonations of Miley Cyrus and Rachel Green (from “Friends”), as well as characters that included Jacob, the bar mitzvah boy; child actor Laura Parsons (with her “news, talkin’ ‘bout news jingle); J-Pop America Fun Time Now co-host Rebecca Stern-Markowicz; and Brecky, a former porn star hawking luxury items.
Bayer grew-up in a heavily Jewish Cleveland suburb, was bat mitzvah and is a leukemia survivor. She was diagnosed with leukemia at age 15 and the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted her wish for a family Hawaiian vacation. Nice to note: She’s been very active as an adult in helping the Foundation.