Marc Maron, David Ducovny and Richard Kind

Nate Bloom blogs on this week's Jews in the News.

Maron Special, More Roots, Two Disney Shows, Einstein=Royalties

MARC MARON’s first HBO Original comedy special, “Marc Maron: From Bleak to Dark,” will debut on on Feb. 11 at 10 p.m. Maron previously had (four) hit stand-up specials on Epix and Netflix.

Maron, of course, is not just a stand-up comedian, he is an actor (best known for  GLOW, a Netflix series) and the host of an incredibly successful podcast (over 100 million listeners annually).

The one-hour special was filmed before a live audience in New York City. Maron, 59,  talks about getting older, anti-Semitism and faith, the sudden death of his girlfriend, and his complicated relationship with his father. He also explains why cats are better than children during a pandemic.

Actors DAVID DUCOVNY and RICHARD KIND will be the guests on the Feb.14 (8PM) episode of the PBS ancestry show "Finding Your Roots".

“Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur”, an animated series, premieres on the Disney Channel on 

Feb. 10 (8PM).  Here’s the capsule plot: Lunella Lafayette (AKA Moon Girl), a 13-year-old girl, is brilliant and altruistic. One day, she accidentally brings a dinosaur to the Lower East Side. The dino has the brawn to match Moon Girl’s brains and she can finally protect her community.

Like most Marvel characters, the two title characters have a decades-long comic book “history”.  

Suffice it to say that the characters Moon Boy and Devil Dinosaur (“good” superheroes) were created by the late JACK KIRBY (born Jacob Kurtzberg) in 1978. (Moon Boy “died” in the ‘80s. Moon Girl was introduced in a new comic series in 2015)

The guest-voice stars this season (17 episodes) include ALISON BRIE, 40, ANDY COHEN, 54, DAVEED DIGGS, 41, PAMELA ADLON, 56, and GIDEON ADLON, 25 (Pamela’s daughter). 

Brie (“Community”, "GLOW”)  is in the premiere episode. She plays “Aftershock”, an electrically-charged supervillain. Brie’s mother is Jewish, her father isn’t. Brie’s husband, actor DAVE FRANCO, 37, has the same parentage.

“Up”, a 2009 animated Disney film, was a huge critical and box-office hit. The lead character was Carl Frederickson, a surly but lovable elderly guy who ties helium balloons to his house and floats to South America.

ED ASNER (1929-2021) voiced Carl and, at age 80, he soared to a new career high. Back in the ‘70s, Asner won so many Primetime (acting) Emmys that he set an “Emmy-win record” that has still not been equaled or surpassed. 

His performance as Lou Grant, a gruff but lovable journalist, won him most of these Emmys (“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Lou Grant”).  Asner got the Carl role because the “Up” writers were inspired by the Lou Grant character when they created the Carl character.  Nice circle, right?

In 2021, Disney launched “Dug Days”, a sequel-of-sorts that streamed on the Disney Channel.  Dug is the name of a talking Labrador Retriever who became Carl’s companion’s in “Up”.

Five short “Dug” films were released. These films had Carl (Asner) and Dug living in suburbia. On Friday, Feb. 10, another short film, “Carl’s Date”, will begin streaming on Disney+. Here’s the plot: Carl reluctantly agrees to go a date with a lady friend—but has no idea how dating works today. Dug calms Carl’s jitters and he offers some tips that have worked well for him---except the tips are tips on how to meet other dogs(!).

Asner recorded his role before his death. Here’s hoping that he wins another Emmy.

Have you seen the many Verizon ads that feature Paul Giamatti as EINSTEIN?  If so, were you upset that Einstein was employed to sell Verizon stuff? Well, there is a silver lining. Companies can’t use Einstein’s image without getting the permission of Einstein’s estate. If they get permission, they have to make a substantial royalty payment.

The Hebrew University in Jerusalem is the beneficiary of all those royalties. Einstein was a co-founder of Hebrew University and he left his estate to the University.

Last year, I read a fascinating piece in the “Guardian”, a free-to-read great on-line newspaper. It covered every aspect of the royalty rights of “dead celebrities” and, how, a Jewish lawyer, whose father was a friend of Einstein, won the battle to establish the “image rights” of deceased celebrities like Einstein. (Article title:” Who Owns Who owns Einstein? The battle for the world’s most famous face”.)

Do read the this really good article. But here is the  fiscal bottom line—to date, the Einstein estate has given $250 million to Hebrew University. About $12M flows to the University every year. 


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