Nate Bloom blogs on this week's Jews in the News.
Two Hanukkah Movies and A Hanukkah Concert You Can (Probably) See Free
The Hallmark Channel has finally given the Jewish community a “sort-of” Hanukkah gift. Yes, Jewish characters have appeared, now and again, in the original Christmas films that Hallmark releases every year. But I believe that this is the first time that Hallmark is releasing a “straight-out”, just-about-Hanukkah original movie. By the way, in 2022, Hallmark has/will release 39 original new Christmas movies and, well, one Hanukkah movie.
The film is entitled “Hanukkah Rye” and it was released on the first day of the holiday (Dec. 18). Here’s the capsule plot: Molly (LISA LOEB, 54) and Jacob (JEREMY JORDAN, 37) are put together by a matchmaker and things are going great until they find out that they run competing delis. Will there be a Hanukkah miracle that will keep them together?
Jordan’s mother is Jewish. He’s had a pretty good career as a Broadway musical actor. Loeb is a singer-songwriter best known for her 1994 hit song “Stay”. She has managed to keep her career alive in varied projects even though she has never regained her late ‘90s popularity. It’s nice to note that she and her Jewish husband have two kids.
The Hallmark Channel is carried on just about every cable/satellite provider. Other places to see it: there is a separate Hallmark Movies (just movies) app for Roku, Amazon Fire, and on-line. Costs $5.00 per month.
If you have “cut the cord”, the NBC-owned Peacock streaming service is a good option. Some Peacock shows are free, but not Hallmark. Spend $5 for the upgrade and you can catch "Rye" on the streaming “live” Hallmark channel “within” Peacock. As I write this, I am 99% certain you can ALSO see the film “on demand” on the Peacock site. It will be the Hallmark movie category. Plus, there is a lot of other pretty good non-Hallmark stuff that you can access on Peacock for your $5.
I doubt “Rye” will be great. But my kishkas say it will be okay. Not okay is an original Hulu film called “Menorah in the Middle”, which began streaming in November. LUCY DEVITO, 39 , stars as a Jewish woman who gets engaged to a non-Jewish guy. They travel to her hometown to celebrate Hanukkah with her parents. The problem: her parents’ Jewish bakery is no longer profitable.
On the plus side, all the Jewish parts are played by Jews. Devito is the daughter of Danny Devito and his Jewish ex-wife, actress RHEA PERLMAN, 74. On the down side, every Jewish stereotype is in the movie and only one starring Jewish actor is quite competent (JESSICA HECHT, 57, who plays Lucy’s mother). The others range from really bad to ok (JORDAN PLATT, 36, the brother of actor BEN PLATT, is ok).
I have to mention that SARAH SILVERMAN, 52, and her sister, LAURA SILVERMAN, 56, have small parts at the film’s end. They are “fun” but they can’t rescue the movie.
Lucy DeVito's parents, as everyone knows, are very short and not physically beautiful. But they are charming and funny. Lucy is not charming, or funny. She is plain and very short. So, what do they do? They cast as her fiancé a VERY tall, unknown Chilean actor who can’t act. This mis-matched couple are in the film’s first scene—and I said to myself: “What?”- - and it was downhill from there. (I confess, "Menorah" was so bad it was almost good).
For the last two years, Dave Grohl, the lead guy of the Foo Fighters, a popular rock band, and top record producer GREG KURSTIN, 53, have done the “Hanukkah Sessions”. Each night of Hanukkah they have performed rock songs written by Jews. A video of each session is posted each night of Hanukkah on Youtube. (FYI: Grohl’s wife is Jewish).
On Dec. 5, a “secret” concert was held at a Los Angeles nightclub. Director/producer JUDD APATOW, 55, made the arrangements. The club concert proceeds went to the Anti-Defamation League.
A number of well-known performers performed rock songs written or co-written by Jews. They included Grohl and Kurstin; Grohl’s daughter VIOLET, 16; JACK BLACK, 52, and PINK (her mother is Jewish). Pink, 43, said on-stage: “My [real first] name is Alecia, and I am a Jew.” Footnote: Beck, who is quite famous, also performed. He is “1/8” Jewish in common parlance, but he is a halachic Jew. First time, I think, that Beck did “anything Jewish”.
The club date was filmed and several good sources, like “Variety”, say that it is “very likely” the Dec. 5 concert songs will constitute all or most of 2022 Hanukkah Sessions material. Simply search for Hanukkah Sessions on Youtube and see if Variety is right.