Michael Douglas, Brad Falchuk and Gwyneth Paltrow

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

Franklin, Horror, Trek Finale, and More


“Franklin”, an 8-episode Apple+ series about Benjamin Franklin begins on April 12. MICHAEL DOUGLAS, 79, plays Franklin. The series focuses on Franklin’s role in getting the French to aid Americans during the Revolutionary War.

Franklin was 71 when he was dispatched to Paris (Oct. 1776) as the “commissioner” representing the United States in the court of French King Louis XVI. Franklin was a good choice: his scientific work made him the best-known American in Europe. He stayed in France until 1785 (two years after the United States and Britain singed a peace treaty).

Louis XVI certainly didn’t support democratic revolutions, but he and most of the French wanted to revenge their recent defeat by the British (1763). That defeat cost them virtually all their North American colonies, including Quebec.

First, Franklin, a very charming fellow, coaxed the French into providing secret monetary aid to the American revolutionaries. Then, after some American victories, France broke relations with Britain and openly supported the Revolution with arms, and had their army and navy help the Americans. Virtually every historian says that the Revolution never would have been won without French aid.

Douglas is the only American actor in the series. Nathan Jupe, a Brit, plays 16-year-old William Temple Franklin, the “out of wedlock” son of Benjamin’s “out-of-wedlock” son, William Franklin. Temple, as he was called, acted as Benjamin’s aide in Paris.

Franklin “loved the ladies” and two French women—one about his age, and another quite young, are major characters in the series.

‘Nice to Note’: Mikveh Israel, which is still in existence, is the first congregation/synagogue in Philadelphia. The congregation broke ground on its first synagogue building in 1782 and asked for public donations. Franklin, and several other prominent local non-Jews, donated to the synagogue’s building fund.

The 12th season of the popular FX/Hulu series “American Horror Story” began on April 3 and concludes on April 24th (4 episodes). 

“American Horror” is an anthology series. This means each season has a different story. But some actors return season-after-season in different roles. The series was co-created by Ryan Murphy and BRAD FALCHUK, 53. Falchuk married GWYNETH PALTROW, 51, in 2018.

LESLIE GROSSMAN, 52, who was a main cast actor in most seasons, is “just” a guest actor this season. Also appearing in a guest role is BETTE MIDLER’s daughter, SOPHIE VON HASELBERG, 37. Frequent TV program host ANDY COHEN “guests” as himself.

TAVI GEVINSON, 27, appears in “Horror” for the first time this season. She has a recurring role as “Cora”. She was a co-star of the HBO revival of “Gossip Girl”.

"Star Trek: Discovery" began its 5th and final season on April 4 (Paramount+). The series was co-created by ALEX KURTZMAN, 50. Famous Canadian director DAVID CROENBERG, 80, returns as Dr. Kovich, a somewhat mysterious character who began appearing in season 3 in a few episodes.

Likewise, Admiral Charles Vance “pops-up” now-and-again and he will re-appear this season. He’s played by ODED FEHR, 53. Fehr grew-up in Israel and he served in the Israeli Navy. He has worked steadily in character roles after he appeared in a “juicy” supporting role in “The Mummy”, a hit 1999 flick. He returned for the sequel, “The Mummy Returns” (2001).

“A Brief History of the Future” is a six-episode PBS documentary which premiered on April 3 (9PM). (Many encore showings. Check local listings). The series is hosted by ARI WALLACH, 49, a prominent academic “futurist”. The series battles the dystopian future (“everything will be bad”)  constantly depicted in popular culture. The program invites viewers to see possible solutions to our existential threats and paths to a “good future.”

Wallach was born in Mexico, but mostly was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He’s the Executive Director of Longpath, an initiative fostering long-term thinking and behavior in the individual, organizational, and societal realms. He’s also an adjunct Columbia Univ. professor.  His wife is Jewish and they have 3 children.

His late father, RAUL WALLACH, a Polish Jew, was picked up by Nazis to be a (teen) slave laborer. He escaped from them with a stolen machine gun and, with his younger brother, joined Jewish partisans who fought the Germans. He eventually settled in Mexico, where he and his brother founded a big, family-owned steel plant. He moved to the States in the ‘70s.

On April 5, HBO/Max begins streaming “The Zone of Interest”, a Holocaust-related film that won the Oscar for best international film.

Louis Gossett, Jr., an Oscar-winning African-American actor, died on March 28, age 87. In 2009, his many ties to the Jewish community were detailed in an interview with the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles. Those ties began during his youth in the Coney Island area of Brooklyn and continued, in many forms, throughout his life. Do read this very good article.

Louis Gossett Jr. to Give Shul Inaugural Ball Toast (jewishjournal.com)



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