Jews in the News: Stephen Fry, Nanette Burstein and Bruce Feiker

At the Movies: Opening March 6

“Greed” is a British satirical comedy about the ultra-rich, centering on Sir Richard McCreadie (Steve Coogan), a retail fashion magnate. The film’s set on a Greek island, where the 60th birthday of McCreadie is being celebrated with a huge “Gladiator-themed” party. The film explores the divide between McCreadie’s wealth and the dire poverty of the workers who make his clothes. The backstory is told through documentary-like film scenes and via a journalist who is hired to write McCreadie’s biography. ISLA FISHER, 44, co-stars as Samantha, McCreadie’s ex-wife. Samantha really unloads about the “real” McCreadie. British actor STEPHEN FRY, 62, has a cameo in a party scene, playing himself. (This film is getting a limited release. Check local listings).

“The Way Back” stars Ben Affleck as Jack Cunningham, a former high school basketball star who became mired in alcohol abuse and lost a college scholarship. He is working a dead-end job when, out of the blue, he is offered the job of coaching his old high school team. MICHAELA WATKINS, 48 (“Casual”), has a large supporting role. Affleck has said that film acted sometimes as therapy for him as he as coped with his own, well-publicized alcohol addiction.

Hillary on Hulu; Many Dads on NBC

The four-part documentary “Hillary,” about the former first lady and secretary of state, begins streaming on Hulu on Friday, March 6. Each episode will be released on successive Fridays. “Hilary,” an original Hulu film, was shown at the Sundance Film Festival last December and received very good reviews. The advance publicity notes: “Hillary is a remarkably intimate portrait of a woman in the public eye [with] unprecedented personal access to the former First Lady… the series gives viewers an up-close view of the woman who has permeated American culture for more than 30 years.”  The film was made by NANETTE BURSTEIN, 49. Her previous documentaries include the Oscar-nominated “On the Ropes,” about boxing.

“Council of Dads” is an NBC drama that starts on Mar. 10 (10PM). The lead character, Scott Perry, is the loving father of four. A serious health scare moves him to recruit three of his closest male friends to step-in as “back up dads” for every stage of his family’s life. These men agree to devote themselves to supporting and guiding Scott's family through thick and thin-- just in case he ever can't be there to do so himself.

The series is based on “Council of Dads,” a best-selling book 2010 book by BRUCE FEILER, now 55. He and his wife, LINDA ROTTENBERG, 54, a prominent business consultant, have identical twin daughters.  In 2008, he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Feiler wrote letters asking six men from all passages of his life to be present through the passages of his young daughters’ lives and assist them. They all responded positively. Feiler is now cancer-free.

Feiler’s written about many topics, but he’s best known for “Walking the Bible”, a best-selling book (2006) and very popular PBS series about Feiler’s 10,000 mile journey tracing the events and places mentioned in the Torah.

Casting Notes

The Feb. 13 episode of “Law and Order: SVU” (Thursdays, 10PM) introduced a new character, police sergeant Hasim Khaldum. Khaldum, who is fluent in Hebrew, is supposed to be the son of a Jewish mother and a Muslim father. (We aren’t informed if he identifies with a religion).  ARI’EL STACHEL, 28, plays Khaldum. Stachel won a 2018 Tony award for playing an Arab character in the Broadway musical production of “The Band’s Visit.” Stachel, who grew up in California, is the son of parents who met on an Israeli kibbutz. His American mother is Ashkenazi and his Israeli father is of Yemeni Jewish background.  Right after the episode aired, Statchel tweeted that Khaldum will re-appear in more episodes this season. There’s strong “internet chatter” that Khaldum will eventually become a main cast character. You can view this episode, for free, for about ten more days on the NBC app. After that you have to be a cable or satellite customer to “unlock” the episode.

SHOSHANNAH STERN, 39, is playing a a recurring role (Feb. 13, Mar. 5) as Dr. Lauren Riley on the ABC series “Grey’s Anatomy” (Thursdays, 9PM). Stern is deaf in real life and the Riley character is deaf, too. There are, of course, real-life deaf physicians and Stern brought her own research about how they coped with their disability to the show’s writers and producers.


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