Jews in the News: Steven Spielberg, R.L Stine and Halson Sage

At the Movies: Opens Friday, Oct. 16

“Bridge of Spies” is based on the events leading up to the real-life exchange (1962) of convicted Soviet spy Rudolph Abel for American spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers, who was shot down in 1960.  It stars Tom Hanks as an American lawyer who represented Abel and, later, aided the Cold War swap. Directed by STEVEN SPIELBERG, 68, “Bridge” is the third Spielberg film starring Hanks, his old friend.  ETHAN and JOEL COEN co-wrote “Bridge.”

“Goosebumps” is an interesting comedic take on the best-selling ‘scary’ children’s book series by R.L. STINE, 71. The movie begins with teen Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) upset about moving to a small town. The silver lining is that next door lives Hannah Stine (ODEYA RUSH, 18), a beautiful teenage girl and the daughter of famous author R. L. Stine (JACK BLACK, 46). The action takes off when Stine reveals that the creatures in his stories are real and that he protects his readers by keeping them locked in his books. Well, of course, they get out and Zach, Hannah, and everybody else have a wild night trying to  get them back in the books.  This is Rush’s second feature film lead and may be her breakthrough role. She was born in Israel, and moved to the States in 2010 when her father took a security job. She now lives in Los Angeles with her parents and four younger brothers (two sets of twins). Her two older brothers live in Israel.

The very pretty HALSTON SAGE, 22 (“Neighbors”) has big supporting role and R.L. Stine told “EW”: I went down to the set,-we shot in Atlanta-did a little walk-on cameo. Yeah, I actually had a line. I had one line. And Jack and I had a really good time."

On Your Favorite Viewing Platform

The 10-episode original “Hulu” series, “Casual,” premiered on October 7, with the release of the pilot and second episode. Produced and directed by JASON REITMAN, 38 (“Juno”), it stars MICHAELA WATKINS, 43, as Valerie, a therapist with a teen daughter whose husband has recently left her. The reviews for Watkins and the series are stellar and Watkins, who has done everything from supporting film parts to a year on “SNL”—now has a career role. Typical is this Roger Ebert site review excerpt: “She doesn’t overplay Valerie’s neuroses or fear of the dating world. Every line, every action, every subtle moment seems to come from some genuine place...She's fantastic.”

Watkins’ real-life husband, FRED KRAMER, 41, is a successful businessman who took five years off (2008-2013) to be Executive Director of Jewish World Watch, a Los Angeles based anti-genocide non-profit. Since 2008, he has been on the board of the IKAR Jewish community and he’s served as board chair.

“Red Oaks” premiered on Amazon TV on Oct. 9 and, like Netflix, the whole first season was released at once.  “Oaks” has received good, if not great notices. The year is 1985 and most action centers around Red Oaks, a New Jersey country club that is mostly Jewish. The central character is David Meyers, a Jewish college student who works at the club. Getty (PAUL REISER, 58) one of the club’s richest guys, takes an interest in David and mentors him. Meanwhile, David’s father, played by RICHARD KIND, 58, is more working class and he and Getty sometimes clash.


As I write this, MATT JACKSON, 23, a Washington, D.C. paralegal, has won over $289 K in ten straight “Jeopardy” game matches (through Oct. 8) and even if he isn’t still winning as you read this---look for him during the show’s next “Tournament of Champions.” Early on, when host Alex Trebek asked him about his “very different parents,” Jackson replied: “My mother is white, liberal and Jewish, and my dad is black, Christian and conservative.” After he won his 7th game, he was asked how he knew so much. Jackson said his biggest influence was his grandfather, BARNETT BERMAN, a Johns Hopkins physician who, Jackson recalled, went on a long digression at a Passover seder trying to figure out who wrote the Torah. He added that his grandfather had “A big collection of books. He got a computer, a PC, at a very early stage and taught me to use it.”

The Arizona State football team defeated UCLA in a big upset on Oct. 3. What was more remarkable is that both Division I teams had Jewish starting quarterbacks (MATT BERCOVICI, 22, Arizona, and JOSH ROSEN, 18, UCLA). No Jewish sports maven can recall this ever happening before.


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