Natalie Portman, Todd Haynes and Harrison Ford

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

Unusual Couple, Ford Fest, New Lorre Sit-Com, More

“May December”, a comedy-drama, opened in a handful of theaters on Nov. 17 (so it will be eligible for Oscar nominations) and begins streaming on Netflix on Dec.1. This film is loosely based on the late Mary Kay Letourneau, a schoolteacher, who was 34 when she began (1996) an affair with Vili Fualaa, a12-year student. She had two children with him before she went to jail (1998). She was released in 2004 and married the 21-year-old Fualaau in 2005.

NATALIE PORTMAN, 42, plays an actress/journalist who travels to Georgia to interview Gracie Yoo (the “Letourneau” character) and Joe Yoo (Gracie molested him as a child and, now, he’s her husband of 20 years). Gracie (Julianne Moore) and Joe have adult, twin sons.

Advance reviews are very good. The film was directed by TODD HAYNES, 62 (“I’m Not There”; “Far from Heaven”). His mother is Jewish and he identifies as Jewish.

On Dec. 1, Disney+ premieres a new documentary entitled “Timeless Heroes: Indiana Jones & Harrison Ford.” In the words of a publicity release, it “showcases the legendary adventurer” and you “discover the untold story of how Harrison Ford became Indiana Jones”.

The documentary calls FORD, now 81, “a once in a generation actor.” It covers his entire life: his early years, “Star Wars”, and the five “Indy” films he has made. There are a lot of new interviews about Ford and his work.

Ford’s father was Irish and his mother was Jewish. He was raised secular and has remained so.

Also on Dec. 1, Disney+ begins streaming the (Ford) film “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”, which was released last July. It made a lot of money, but not enough to cover its very big budget.

“Bookie” is described as a “dark” comedy. The first, 8-episode season premieres on Nov. 30 on HBO.  "Bookie" focuses on Danny, a Hispanic-American bookie who is worried that the legalization of sports betting will destroy his livelihood.  

The series was co-created by CHUCK LORRE, 71, and he co-wrote all the first season episodes. Lorre (born Charles Levine) has created an amazing number of hit sitcoms. Here are just some: “Grace Under Fire”, “Dharma and Greg”, “Two and a Half Men”, “The Big Bang Theory”, “Mom” and “The Kominsky Method”.

Charlie Sheen has a recurring “Bookie” role, but his character hasn’t been described in the show’s publicity. Sheen’s hiring is ‘interesting’. Sheen was in his 8th season (2011) as the co-star of “Two and a Half Men” when Lorre fired him. Sheen, then a heavy drug user, was fired for his erratic behavior—behavior that included publicly insulting Lorre.

Sheen has long been sober and, in 2021, he publicly regretted his past “Two Men” behavior. I guess he and Lorre have made-up.

GEDDY LEE, 70, is famous as the talented bassist for Rush, a Canadian progressive rock band that sold millions of records and is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (dissolved in 2018). On Dec. 5, Paramount+ begins streaming a 4-part interview program called “Geddy Lee Asks: Are Bass Players Human, Too?”.

Lee interviews four top bassists:  Krist Novoselic (Nirvana), Les Claypool (Primus), Melissa Auf der Maur (Hole, Smashing Pumpkins) and Rob Trujillo (Metallica).

Geddy’s parents were teens when they met in a Polish ghetto during WWII. They were sent to Auschwitz, first, and then his father was sent to Dachau and his mother was sent to Bergen-Belsen. They miraculously survived, married, and moved to Canada. His mother pronounced his given first name, “Gary”—“Geddy”—and Geddy stuck as his name.

I don’t religiously watch “Dancing with the Stars” anymore. But I noticed that the current season’s finale is coming up and it has “Jewish connections”. The finale will air, simultaneously, on ABC and Disney+ on Tuesday, Dec. 5. (8PM).  Actress ALYSON HANNIGAN (“How I Met Your Mother”) will “almost certainly” dance in the finale, along with her pro partner, SASHA FARBER, 39.

Hannigan’s mother is Jewish (Alyson doesn’t talk about her religious beliefs). Farber’s Jewish parents left Belarus when he was 2 and settled in Australia.

Like “May December”, “Maestro”, a film about LEONARD BERNSTEIN, opened in a handful of theaters (Nov. 22) to be eligible for Oscar nominations. It begins streaming on Netflix on Dec. 20. My practice is to cover these rare “two-premiere” films when most people can see the film. I will cover “Maestro in my Dec. 15 column. You can read the media reviews, now. My coverage will focus on the Jewish real-life characters in the film (almost all are Jewish) and the many Jewish actors in the cast.


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