Jews in the News: Selma Blair, Ben Stiller, and Billy Eichner

Blair Dances, A Gay Romantic Comedy (and a quite Jewish one, too), British Brethren

"Dancing with the Stars", which premiered on ABC in 2005, moved over to Disney+ this season. The first Disney+ episode streamed on Sept. 19 and new episodes premiere on following Mondays. This season’s contestants include actress SELMA BLAIR, 50.

Blair was clearly the studio audience’s sentimental favorite. Few in the audience didn’t know her back story. In 2018, Blair revealed she had recently been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). In her 2022 book, “Mean Baby: A Memoir of Growing Up”, and in a recent documentary, she detailed how her physical state declined until she opted (2019) to try a risky, and arduous stem-cell treatment. Fortunately, it appears to have put her MS in remission.

Well, her first dance couldn’t have gone better. Blair put down her cane and leaned for a few seconds on her professional dance partner, SASHA FARBER, 38. Then they danced beautifully to the music of a Viennese waltz. Blair and Farber finished third, a very good showing.

Carrie Ann Inaba, a dance judge, suffers from lupus and she calls MS and lupus “invisible” diseases because most of the time people don’t realize that someone has either disease. Inaba was in tears right after Blair’s dance.  She said this to Blair: “Seeing you come out here with your circumstances and just making everyone aware that you are fully able to do and achieve anything you put your mind to.”

Like Blair, Farber attended Jewish day schools. Except his schools were in Australia. He was born in Moscow and, with the rest of his (religiously observant) family, he moved to Australia in 1986

Blair’s “comeback” and courage is simply a great story that everyone embraces. She was given a standing ovation when she presented the best drama series Emmy a couple of weeks ago and, earlier this month, she became the face of a major new Gap fashion campaign.

“Bros”, which opens in theaters on Sept. 30, has been heralded as the first mainstream Hollywood movie to feature gay men as the lead characters. This romantic comedy was co-written by comedian BILLY EICHNER, 44, and he co-stars.

The entire cast, except for a few celebs who play themselves, identify as a member of the LGBTQ community. “Famously” gay HARVEY FIERSTEIN, 68, has a supporting role. BEN STILLER, 56, and DEBRA MESSING, 54, have cameo roles as themselves. The film got mostly good reviews after playing the Toronto Film Festival.

Capsule plot “set-up”: Eichner plays Bobby, a 40-year-old Jewish New Yorker who hosts a popular LGBTQ podcast. He has spent most of his life hooking up instead of looking for long-term commitment. That is until he meets athletic CrossFit jock Aaron at a club. They hit it off, start “seeing each other” but agree to not commit to any sort of relationship.

The film was produced by JUDD APATOW, 54, a master of the rom-com, and it was co-written and directed by NICHOLAS STOLLER, 46. Stoller’s films (as a writer and director) include “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, “Get Him to the Greek”, and “The Five-Year Engagement”.

Stoller and his wife of 17 years, novelist FRANCESCA BELBANCO, 48, co-created and co-wrote” Friends from College”, a Netflix series that ran from 2017-2019. The couple have three children. Her father is NICHOLAS DELBANCO, 80, a highly esteemed novelist and prose writer. He has held many top academic posts.

I have long admired the Jewish Chronicle (UK). Its more commonly known as the JC. Its website-- posts the whole newspaper and its entirely free. I’ve cited the JC as a source many times. This week, and next, I recommend that you click over and read their “wall-to-wall” coverage of the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the succession of her son, King Charles III.

Of course, you don’t have to read every article. But I found it quite interesting to read the British Jewish “take” on so many things related to the Queen’s death. Here’s just a sampler of the headlines: “Palace Moves Event to Accommodate Shabbat” (the timing of a meeting of “faith leaders” with King Charles III was changed a bit so the UK Chief Rabbi had to time get to shul before Shabbat began); “Jewish Stars Remember a Much Beloved Monarch” (the “stars” are not well-known in the States, but pretty well known in the UK for their TV roles/journalism); and “When Buckingham Palace Went Kosher: (in 1997, a “crack team” of kosher caterers was flown in to furnish the food for a state dinner for Israeli President EZER WEIZMAN). 


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