Nate Bloom blogs on this week's Jews in the News.
Climate Change, Cartoon Indiana Jones, Leno’s Jewish Doctor, More
“Extrapolations” is a six-part Apple+ series that premieres on March 17. Here is part of the official description: "’Extrapolations" is a bracing drama that introduces a near future where the chaotic effects of climate change have become embedded into our everyday lives. Eight interwoven stories about love, work, faith and family from across the globe will explore the intimate, life-altering choices that must be made when the planet is changing faster than the population.”
It's obvious that the important nature of the material attracted “star power”. The Jewish cast members are JUDD HIRSCH, 87, DAVEED DIGGS,41, PETER RIEGERT, 75, and DAVID SCHWIMMER, 56. Riegert and Schwimmer’s characters have very “Jewish names”. I presume they are Jewish characters.
Here’s some of the big-name (not Jewish) actors in the series: Meryl Streep, Forest Whitaker (best actor Oscar), Kit Harington (“Game of Thrones”), and Toby McGuire.
Riegert is the least known of the Jewish actors. He’s best known for playing Donald “Boon” Schoenstein in “Animal House” (a cool frat guy). I loved him in “Crossing Delancey” (1988), one of the best Jewish-themed movies ever made. He played a charming Jewish pickle store owner who “wins” the Jewish woman of his dreams.
“Digman”, an animated comedy series, premieres on Comedy Central on Wednesday, March 22. The advance publicity says that it “takes place in a world where archaeologists are celebrities.”
ANDY SAMBERG, 44, co-created the series and he voices Rip Digman, the titular character. The guest (voice) actors include MAYA RUDOLPH, 51, and DANIEL RADCLIFFE, 33.
“Boston Strangler” is an original Hulu film that will premiere on March 17. The title references the name given to an unknown person who strangled 13 women in the Boston area in 1962-64. There was a prior film, “The Boston Strangler” (1968). It starred TONY CURTIS as Albert DeSalvo, a man who confessed to the strangulations, but was imprisoned for other serious crimes due to a lack of evidence that he was the strangler (in 2013, DNA testing proved he did kill at least one of the women). The 1968 film focused on the police investigation.
The Hulu film takes another tack: the focus is on two “Boston Herald” woman reporters, Loretta McLaughlin (Keira Knightley) and Jean Cole (Carrie Coon). They were the first to suggest the 13 murders were probably done by the same person and they coined the name “Boston Strangler”. Their reporting—and how seriously it was taken-- was hampered by the rampant sexism of the early 1960s.
MORGAN SPECTOR, 42, has a big supporting role as James McLaughlin, Loretta’s husband. Spector got spectacular reviews for his performance as star character George Russell in “The Gilded Age”, a hit HBO series that premiered last year. Carrie Coon plays Geo. Russell’s wife.
The title of a recent Kelly Clarkson (talk show) segment, posted on Youtube, “lured me” in: “Jay Leno Surprises Burn Center Nurses with Bahamas Vacation”. I knew that Leno’s face was badly burned last November while working on one of his cars.
During the segment, they showed photos of Leno’s burns and they looked terrible. Remarkably, he now looks the same as he looked before the accident. Clarkson said that they even replaced Jay’s ear (!)—and she couldn’t tell it was a replacement!
The nurses who treated Leno were happy about getting a free vacation. But I was more interested in (guest) Dr. PETER GROSSMAN, 57, the head of the Grossman Burn Center in Los Angeles, where Leno was treated. It’s the largest private burn center in the country.
Peter told Clarkson that his father had founded the Burn Center. His father, Peter said, got interested in burn treatment after he saw the aftermath of a fire at a Catholic school that killed or maimed many children and nuns.
I “dug out” the whole story in other sources: Peter’s father was A. RICHARD GROSSMAN (1933-2014). He was an emergency room doctor in Chicago (1958) when the Catholic school fire happened. He saw how little they could do (then) for the surviving burn victims. He moved to Los Angeles and he began by getting a few “dedicated” hospital beds for burn patients. Over time, this start “morphed” into the Burn Center. Dr. Grossman created, or learned, the best treatment for burns and he had a great bedside manner.
He mostly treated “regular folks”, but there were celebrities, including Richard Pryor, who burned himself terribly (1980) in a drug-related accident and spent six weeks at the Center (Leno spent 8 days at the Center).
I’ve confirmed that Richard was Jewish, as was his late wife, Peter’s mother. There are now two Burn Centers in California and one in Missouri. By the way, Peter was a charming talk show guest.