Nate Bloom blogs on this week's Jews in the News.
Anne Frank from Another Angle, Watergate Plumbers, & Bupkis, a Comedy
Starting on May 1 is “A Small Light”, an 8-episode series. New episodes stream, first, on the Nat Geo channel on Mondays and stream the next day on Disney+ and Hulu.
“Light” is based a memoir by Mies Giap (1909-2010), a Dutch secretary employed by OTTO FRANK. She risked her life to hide the Frank family from the Nazis, as did Elisabeth "Bep" Voskuijl (Sally Messman), a Frank company typist. These two young women found, and hid ANNE FRANK’s diary after the Nazis discovered the Frank family’s hiding place and ransacked it (August, 1944).
LIEV SCHREIBER, 55, plays OTTO FRANK (1889-1980) , the only member of his immediate family to survive the Holocaust.
BEL POWLEY, 31, an English actress, plays Giep . Powley’s mother is Jewish (My sense is that she’s secular). Powley’s most-seen film is “King of Staten Island” (2020) She played Pete Davidson’s on-and-off girlfriend.
Anne Frank (1929-March 1945), is played by Billie Boulett, who I'm virtually sure is not Jewish. French actress Amira Casar, who plays Anne’s mother, EDITH, is not Jewish.
Hiding with the Franks was the (Jewish) VAN PELS family. British Jewish actors ANDY NYMAN, 57, and CAROLINE CATZ, 52, play Mr. and Mrs. Van Pels. ( Nyman played a Warsaw Ghetto fighter in the 2001 film “Uprising”.) Rudi Goodman, 20, a Brit, plays Peter Van Pels. Goodman has little available bio.
ASHLEY BROOKE, 19, who plays Anne’s sister, MARGOT (1928-March 1945), is Jewish. Brooke has performed on Broadway, been in a few films, and has had some TV guest roles. With some difficulty, I found out that her “real” last name is Eisdorfer. Her father is JERRY EISDORFER, a New Jersey attorney. The bar mitzvah notice of her brother, ADAM, now 15, is on-line.
I relayed this info to a friend, and he found a very moving Facebook post (June, 2022) by Ashley’s mother, BARBARA SCHWARTZ-EISDORFER. She noted that Ashley, her daughter, would play Margot Frank. Then she related that Ashley’s paternal Czech Jewish grandmother, ESTHER EISDOFER, was a Holocaust survivor. Like Anne and Margot, Esther was a teen when she, and her sister, were sent to a concentration camp. Unlike the Frank sisters, these two sisters survived.
Esther wouldn’t talk to family about the camps, but she consented to have her Holocaust memories videotaped by the University of Southern California (USC) Shoah Foundation. Ashley viewed the tape and said she wanted to turn her grandmother’s story into a screenplay some day. As Ashley’s mother put it, Ashley was “primed” when an audition for “A Small Light” came-up. Ashley now attends USC.
Here’s a Frank family story that always haunted me. Otto Frank served in the German Army during WWI. He saw combat in an artillery unit and he was a lieutenant when the war ended. He took his WWI army trunk with him when he and his family fled Germany and moved to Holland. The SS-led police who raided the Franks’ hiding place were-- for lack of a better term-- quite rude when they broke into the hiding place. But then they noticed a stencil on the trunk. The stencil said that Otto was a (WWI) German army officer. The SS raiders then turned more polite—but they didn’t lift a finger to help their former “brother-in-arms”.
“White House Plumbers” is 5-episode HBO series that begins streaming on May 1. It follows the activities of agents (nicknamed “plumbers”) who were directed by President Nixon, and his aides, to spy on political rivals. The operation came to an end when several plumbers were caught (1972) trying to break into a Democratic Party office within the Watergate office building.
DAVID MANDEL, 52, directed the series. IKE BARINHOLTZ, 46, co-stars as Jeb Magruder, a Nixon re-election “honcho” who directed the plumbers. Ashley Brooke has a small role as the daughter of G. Gordon Liddy, a plumber.
“Jewish Matchmaking”, an 8-episode reality series, will begin streaming on Netflix on May 3. The official description says: “When Jewish singles are ready to get serious, they call on ALEEZ BEN SHALOM to find their perfect romantic match from across the US and Israel.”
“Bupkis” is an 8-episode comedy series. Its publicity release says it: “provides a heightened, fictionalized version of Pete Davidson’s real life”. Davidson plays himself. Edie Falco (“The Sopranos”) plays Pete’s mother. “Bupkis” (which means ‘nothing’ in Yiddish), begins streaming on the Peacock channel on May 4.
BRAD GARRETT, 62 (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) is listed high in the “Bupkis” credits, so I guess his part is big—he plays “Roy”. Another series regular is SIMON REX, 48. He plays a character named “Ice Pop”.