Jews in the News: Steve Levitan, Rachel Bloom and Paul Reiser

“Jewy” Sit-Com; Schumer Returns, Briefly; Allan Corduner, More

To be frank “Reboot”, a Hulu series that premiered on Sept. 20, somehow “flew under my radar”. But, if I had written about it before now, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you how “Jewish” this series is. “Jewish stuff” begins to be revealed in the 3rd  and 4th episodes.

The 8-episode first season concludes on Oct. 25. The series was created by STEVE LEVITAN, 60, who also created “Modern Family”.

The set-up: Hannah Korman (RACHEL BLOOM, 35) writes a “re-boot” script for “Step Right-Up”, a hit sit-com that went off the air in 2012.  It was about a black man who is married to a white woman. The black man is the stepfather of his wife’s young white son.

A streaming channel likes Hannah’s script and they approve a first “re-boot’ season. What really grabs them is that Hannah has made “Step Right-Up”, a fairly tame broadcast network TV show, into something much more edgy and adult. It’s now a series that fits into an HBO-like channel line-up.

(Spoilers Ahead!) The re-boot is in production when Gordon Gelman (PAUL REISER, 66) tells the channel that he still owns the rights to “Step Right-Up”.  Pretty soon, Gelman and Korman agree to co-head the re-boot. 

Early on, we learn that Korman is Gelman’s daughter and that he essentially abandoned Hannah in favor of his “second” family.

In the third episode, Gelman makes it very clear he is Jewish (among other things, he mentions his rabbi). In the same episode, Hannah hires four hip young female writers. Gelman meets them in the writers’ room and they don’t amuse him. At the next meeting, Gelman shouts: “Here comes the Jews”— and three aged Jewish sit-com writers Gelman hired walk into the room. Two of the super-veteran writers are played by Jews: FRED MELAMED, 66, and GEORGE WYNER, 76.

Watch the series and find out if Hannah and Gelman’s writers can “merge”-- and if Hannah’s edgy approach, which the cast likes, can “survive” Gelman.

“Inside Amy Schumer”, a Comedy Central hit sketch comedy series, ran from 2013-2016 (four seasons). SCHUMER, now 41, often wrote the scripts and she appeared in every sketch.  There were about 10 episodes each season. “Inside Amy” got good reviews and good ratings. (You can watch the first four seasons on HBO Max).

Why the series went off the air has always been murky. It was renewed for a fifth season early in 2016. But a fifth season didn’t appear. I always assumed that Schumer just walked away from the series when her first film, “Train Wreck” (2015), which she starred-in and wrote, became a critical hit and made $140M (5x its cost).

Well, that fifth season of new shows will now stream on Paramount+. In 2019, the NY Times reported that Schumer contractually owed Comedy Central a fifth season. Last year, Paramount Global, which owns many channels, including CBS and Comedy Central, launched Paramount+, and it’s my guess they thought it would be “just great” to enforce Schumer’s contract.

The fifth season will be just 5 episodes. The first two will first stream on October 20. The last three will stream weekly. Reports say it will stream on Comedy Central “sometime” in the future. 

“Tár”, which stars the great Cate Blanchett as a German orchestra leader, opens in theaters on Oct. 21. Advance reviews are terrific. Look for ALLAN CORDUNER, 72,  a veteran British Jewish actor, as the orchestra’s assistant conductor. Corduner, the son of a German Jewish refugee mother, was a very talented pianist in his youth and wanted to be a conductor before he opted to become an actor.

You may not know Corduner, but you’ve almost certainly have seen him in more than one movie. 

He’s often played Jewish characters. His first “real” film role was playing a yeshiva student in "Yentl" (1983). In "Defiance" (2008), he played the old (Jewish) schoolteacher of the BIELSKI brothers (real Polish Jewish partisans who fought the Nazis). In “Operation Finale” he played GIDEON HAUSNER, the prosecuting attorney at Eichmann’s trial.

Halloween is fast coming up and I have to thank my friend, MICHAEL, a horror film fan, for alerting me that SARAH WOLFKIND, 22, the star of  a “chiller” that I recently wrote about, “Grimcutty”, is the daughter of a Jewish father and an Asian-American mother. “Grimcutty” is an original Hulu film.

I have other Halloween-related goodies ready to go into your info bag. Check out my next column, the last before the spooky holiday.



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