Jews in the News: Tiffany Haddish, Austin Abrams and Ben Rosenfield

At the Movies

Opening Aug. 9 is “The Kitchen”, a sort-of-feminist gangster movie that is based on a comic book series. Melissa McCarthy, Elisabeth Moss, and TIFFANY HADDISH, 39, play the wives of mobsters. The wives take-over after their husbands are jailed. They are adept at running the rackets and taking out the competition. The director is ANDREA BERLOFF, 44. Haddish’s late father was an Eritrean Jew.

 Opening the same day is “The Art of Racing in the Rain.” It is based on a best-selling novel of the same named by GARTH STEIN, 54 (Stein is the son of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother of Irish and Native American ancestry). Enzo, a dog, narrates the film. You have to accept the premise that Enzo is not a dog in the sense we usually perceive a dog to be. Enzo is witty and philosophical. He is aware, via TV watching, of a legend that dogs that are “prepared” will be reincarnated in their next life as a human. He prepares for the next life by carefully watching his owner, Denny. From Denny, he learns much about Formula One race car driving because Denny is an aspiring race car driver. Enzo comes to realize that many aspects of race driving can be applied to navigate life. Enzo is very attached to Denny, to Denny’s wife, Eve, and to their young daughter. I won’t spoil it for you by disclosing the tough turns in Denny’s life or Enzo’s role in helping Denny during those hard times. Milo Ventimiglia and Amanda Seyfried play Denny and Eve, respectively, while Enzo is voiced by Kevin Costner.

The screenplay is MARK BOMBACK, 47, who has written or co-written a number of big hits including “Live Free or Die Hard,” “The Wolverine,” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” He lives in Chappaqua, a New York City suburb with his wife, TEMA, 48, and their four children. Tema is a long-time volunteer at a nearby school for developmentally disabled boys. It’s run by the “JCCA”. Formerly known as Jewish Children’s Services, this agency runs many facilities in the New York area (foster homes, camps, etc.). The Bombacks are profiled on the JCCA website and are described as “important donors for years.”

Also opening on the 9th is “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.” The film is set in 1968 in a small town far away from big city events. Some teens find a diary-of-sorts, written by a girl named Sarah, which sets forth the details of her tortured life in a series of scary stories. AUSTIN ABRAMS, 22, a handsome fellow, has a big supporting role as Tommy Milner, one of the teens who discovers Sarah’s stories. He currently can be seen in a recurring role (Ethan) in the HBO series “Euphoria,” which is based on an Israeli TV series. Abrams grew-up in Sarasota. Both his parents are physicians.

 “Scary Stories” is based on a series of stories of the same name written by  ALVIN SCHWARTZ (1927-1992). Schwartz wrote over fifty books, mostly for children. “Scary Stories” (a three book series) is his most famous work.

Over on Netflix

 “The Family,” a limited, five-part series, is being released in its entirety on August 9. It is a docu-drama about a real organization, the Family Foundation. The Foundation is a Christian evangelist group that sponsors only one public event, the National Prayer Breakfast. It has no obvious leadership, location, or membership list. However, many of the most important people in America are open members or are believed to be members. The Foundation sponsors private prayer meetings where attendees can seek the input of others. But that very privacy has led to criticism that something nefarious may be going on and/or religion and government are being intertwined in an unhealthy way. The series is based on a book of the same name by Jeff Sharlet, a former Foundation intern. Three lead actors (but not their character names) are mentioned in advance publicity, one of whom is BEN ROSENFIELD, 27. Like Austin Abrams, he’s a quite handsome young man. He’s best known for playing Willie Thompson, the nephew of star character Nucky Thompson, in the hit HBO series “Boardwalk Empire.” He’s stayed busy in indie films and in stage productions since “Boardwalk” ended in 2014, but he hasn’t found a breakout star role.

 “Tiffany Haddish Presents: They Ready”, premieres on Tuesday, August 13. The complete first season will be released on the 13th. Haddish presents six up-and-coming comedians performing half-hour stand-up sets.


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