Jews in the News: Tiffany Haddish, James L. Brooks and Milana Vayntrub

Mystery in 8 Acts; Betty Celebrated; Game Changing Vaccine?; AT&T Star Update

"The Afterparty” is an Apple+ series that premieres on Friday, Jan. 28.  It centers on a murder mystery at a high school reunion. Each one of the series’ eight episodes features a retelling of the same night from a different character’s perspective. Each episode has its own unique visual style and film genre to match the teller’s personality. IKE BARINHOLTZ, 44, ILANA GLAZER, 34, and BEN SCHWARTZ, 40, play members of the high school reunion class. They each have “their own” episode.  

DAVE FRANCO, 36, plays Xavier, the murder victim, and TIFFANY HADDISH, 42, plays a police detective investigating Xavier’s death. Advance reviews are quite good.

“Celebrating Betty White: America’s Golden Girl” is a one-hour special that will air on NBC on Monday, Jan. 31, at 10PM. The special will feature friends and co-stars of White. It will also include a lot of great Betty White clips.

I was a bit surprised that the special is on NBC, since White’s most famous roles were in two CBS shows: “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (“MTM”) and “The Golden Girls”. But, during her long career, she appeared many times on NBC and even starred in a short-lived NBC sit-com in the ‘50s.

No guest list has been announced as I write this. No doubt, many Jewish folks will appear. Sadly, none of the stars of MTM or “The Golden Girls” will appear. White was the last surviving main cast member of both these shows.

I am virtually certain that JAMES L. BROOKS, 81, will appear. He praised White right after her death. Brooks, a three-time Oscar winner, co-created MTM and even once had a cameo role on the show, playing a rabbi. He co-wrote the show’s first episode and seven others.

It would be great if ED. WEINBERGER, 80, and SUSAN HARRIS, 81, appeared on the special. Weinberger wrote the episode in which Betty White first appeared on MTM (as Sue Ann Nivens, “The Happy Homemaker”). He wrote or co-wrote another 19 MTM episodes. Harris created “The Golden Girls” and she wrote the first episode.

Back in March 2020, I wrote a column item that included Dr. PETER HOTEZ, now 63. Here’s what I said: “[Hotez] is the director of the Texas Center for Vaccine Development. He frequently appears on MSNBC and CNN. He’s been working with India on a Covid-19 vaccine. In 2017, he received the Distinguished Achievement Award from B’nai Brith International.”

Dr. Hotez has remained a frequent news show guest. He’s always remotely interviewed in his office and, most of the time, you can see a biography of Israeli diplomat ABBA EBAN behind him on a bookshelf. The front of this big book is facing out. This “Eban/Israel plug” is clearly intentional.

In late December, it was announced that a Covid-19 vaccine that Hotez co-developed, with one American colleague, had been authorized for emergency use in India and Bangladesh. The vaccine is not being patented (so cost will be very low). India, and other lesser-developed countries, have existing factories that can massively and cheaply produce this “low-tech” vaccine. It could be a global “game-changer”.

You might be curious about the AT&T fictional salesperson, “Lily”, in TV ads. Long ago, I reported that Lily was/is played by MILANA VAYNTRUB, now 34. She was born in the former Soviet Union. Her Jewish parents were tired of anti-Semitism and came to the States in 1989. Milana was then two years old. The family settled in Los Angeles.

Milana was a modestly successful child actor who didn’t have much career success as an adult actor. Then she got the Lily role in 2013. The Lily ads ended in 2017, only to be revived in 2020. Milana has been an ace salesperson for AT&T. Sales soared when she appeared (as Lily) in 2013 and went down until she returned.

After seeing a recent AT&T “Lily” ad, I was curious if there was anything new to say about Milana. Well, there is. First of all, she now directs the ads she is in. Second, the Lily character is now always filmed so she appears friendly, but business-like, with little attention to her body.

Why? Because, like a lot of female celebs, Milana has been photographed on Hollywood red-carpets, etc. in a low-cut dress and she has a voluptuous figure. These photos attracted the attention of idiots who bombarded her personal and corporate social media (Instagram, etc.)  with inappropriate and sexually harassing messages. Steps have now been taken to quickly delete such messages.


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