Paul Ruud, Michael Douglas and Hank Azaria

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

Rudd is Ant-Man and a Dead Actor; Selling the Moon, Nasty Cult

“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is the 5th film in which PAUL RUDD, 53, plays “Ant-Man” (AKA Scott Lang). It opens in theaters on Friday, Feb. 17.  

Here’s the essential Ant-man info: Lang got Ant-Man powers via a suit created by Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man (played by MICHAEL DOUGLAS, 78). Lang’s companion, Hope Van Dyne, AKA the Wasp, (Evangeline Lily), is the daughter of Pym, and Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer). Hope got her Wasp suit from Janet. 

The plot is very complex. Suffice it to say that the characters described above are “the heart” of the new film.

Readers know that I kvetch about how characters described as Jewish in a comic book, or a novel, are “nothing” in a TV show or movie in which that character appears.

Marvel Comics had and has many Jewish authors, and a number of Jewish super-heroes. However, my friend MICHAEL tells me that the new Ant-Man is the 31st consecutive Marvel Comics Universe film not to have an explicitly Jewish character.

Hallelujah! This streak will end in 2024. An explicitly Israel (Jewish) character (“Sabra”; AKA Ruth Bat-Seraph) will be in “Captain America: New World Order”. Sabra premiered in Marvel comics in 1980.

Last week, it was announced that Meryl Streep and Paul Rudd will appear in the upcoming, 3rd season of the “Only Murders in the Building”, the hit Hulu series. It hasn’t been disclosed if Streep will play a cameo role (perhaps as herself) or will be a “full-blown” guest star.

Rudd guest-starred in the last episode (August 2022) of the series’ 2nd season. His character, Ben Glenroy, a Broadway star, was introduced in that episode. The 2nd season ended with Glenroy dying on-stage.

When he died, Glenroy was on-stage with actor Charles Haden-Savage, an “Only Murders” star character (played by Steve Martin). The play that Glenroy “died-in” was directed by Oliver Putnam, another “Only Murders” star character (played by Martin Short).

The death of Glenroy will be the focus of the 3rd season and we can look forward to Oliver and Charles solving his murder, as they have solved the murders in the first and second season (one per season). Rudd’s appearances in the 3rd season will be flashbacks as (the living) Glenroy.

“Hello, Tomorrow” is an Apple+ sci-fic “dramedy” that premieres on Feb. 17. Here’s the terse official description: “In a retro-futuristic world a group of traveling salesmen try to sell timeshares on the moon.”

The main cast has just five actors. Billy Crudup (“The Morning Show”, also on Apple+) is clearly the star of “Hello”. But the always amusing HANK AZARIA, 58, comes second in the credits.

“Stolen Youth: Inside the Cult at Sarah Lawrence”, is a 3-part Hulu documentary that began streaming on Feb.9, with the next two parts premiering on Feb. 16 and 23rd. Hulu subscribers can watch, at any time, already premiered episodes.

From 2010 until about 2013, eight Sarah Lawrence students got ensnared into a cult ruled by Larry Ray, the father of one of the students.

Many on-line articles and, the documentary itself, can give you the very disturbing details (like sex-trafficking). I am writing about the documentary because its director is the very talented Zach Heinzerling, an Oscar nominee—and because I know that many people, including me, are drawn to films about cults that snare well-educated people.

So, if you have, or will view this documentary—here are answers to two “Jewish” questions I asked myself.

DANIEL LEVIN, now 31, appears frequently in the documentary. He was one of Ray’s student victims until he left the cult in 2013. He spoke to New York magazine in 2019 about the cult and the magazine’s subsequent article prompted a federal investigation of Ray. The same year, Levin went to Heinzerling and tried to get him interested in making a documentary.

In 2021, Levin wrote a memoir (“Slonim Woods, 9”) about the cult. I read excerpts on-line and Levin mentions that he was raised in a Conservative Jewish home and, during a moment of despair, he managed to find, on campus, a Jewish prayer book.

Another major “player” is Isabella Pollok, 31. She was a student who became Ray’s “top lieutenant”. She was so enmeshed in Ray’s wrongdoing that she was charged with several crimes. She plead guilty “to a lesser charge” and will be sentenced this month.  (Larry Ray, 66, was given a 60-year-sentence last January).

Pollok sounds like a Jewish name, but she isn’t Jewish. Family history sites gave me that answer. 


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