Steven Weber, Rachel Dratch and Kyra Sedgwick

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


Celebrity Jeopardy Jews; Mexican Jewish Filmmaker; Love Story: Don and Bob


Other items have crowded out my coverage of the 2nd year of Celebrity Jeopardy. But, as I write this (Jan.12), one out of the three Jewish contestants is still in the running.  The finale will air on Jan. 23, 2024 (ABC, 8PM). There will be many on-line sources happy to tell you who is in the finale (including ABC).

This season’s Hebrews are actor STEVEN WEBER, actress/comedian RACHEL DRATCH, and actress KYRA SEDGWICK.

As in regular Jeopardy, three contestants play in a Celebrity game. 27 celebrity contestants (divided in groups of 3, per game) were in the first, 9-game round. 9 players went on to the semi-final round.

Steven Weber was a player in the 2nd semi-final game (Jan. 9). Early on, it looked like he would win, but another contestant got very lucky finding “Daily Doubles” and won.

Weber is best known for “Wings” (1990-97), a hit sit-com about two brothers (Weber and Tim Daly) who run a single-plane airline for tourists. Currently, he is a “main cast” actor on “Chicago Med” (Dr. Dean Archer).

Weber’s father managed “Borscht Belt” comedians. Weber wrote an insightful HuffPost piece (2011) shortly after returning from Israel (it’s on-line, free). While he wasn’t raised in a religious home, Weber has clearly thought a great deal about Jewish/Israeli history, and his “Jewishness”.

Rachel Dratch, 57, was set to compete in the semi-final round which aired on Jan. 16 (I don’t know who won). In the first round,  she just edged out Macaulay Culkin in a very exciting game (she won by $1!).

Dratch, who grew up in a Reform Jewish home, is best known for her long stint on “SNL” (1999-2006). Her most SNL famous character was Debbie Downer. I really liked Dratch in several “Love-Ahs” sketches with Will Ferrell. In 2022, Dratch won a Tony (best featured actress).

Sadly, actress Kyra Sedgwick, 58, was eliminated in the first round. She’s best known as the star of “Closer”, a hit TV series (2006-2012). She played the deputy police chief of the Los Angeles major crimes unit. She won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for this role.

Sedgwick’s father was a not-religious WASP with lots of Mayflower ancestors. Her mother was Jewish, but never said anything about being Jewish. Kyra’s proudly Jewish stepfather acquainted Kyra with “Jewish things” and, around age 20, she decided to identify as Jewish.

“Memory” is a film that opened “wide” on Jan. 5. Last month, I had an ‘educated guess’ that the writer/director, MICHEL FRANCO, is Jewish, and I was right. He was profiled by the Jerusalem Post in 2021. Like his Jewish father, Franco was born and raised in Mexico.  His mother is an Israeli Jew who settled in Mexico. Franco, 44, speaks Hebrew.

I was waiting for the reviews of “Memory” to come-in. Franco has made 7 films to date which have really divided critics. An early review of “Memory”, in Variety, was mostly favorable and I hoped this film would be his breakthrough and maybe got Oscar nominations. 

Well, those things probably won’t happen. The NY Times critic “killed” “Memory” and so did some other critics . However, praise came from many critics, including some who didn’t like his prior work.

“Memory” is Franco’s first film set in America (Brooklyn). Capsule premise: Sylvia (Jessica Chastain) was traumatized by sexual assault in high school. Her memory of the assault is hazy.  At a high school reunion, she meets Saul (Peter Saarsgard) and he frightens her as he follows her to her home. But he’s not the creep that Sylvia thinks he is. He has his own “tsuris” that I won’t reveal here. (JOSH CHARLES, 52, has a big supporting role as Isaac, Saul’s brother).

Without any fanfare, a 20-minute documentary, directed by JUDD APATOW, 53, was posted on Youtube about a month ago.  It is on the “The New Yorker” (Youtube) channel and its entitled “Bob and Don: A Love Story”.

It is about the seemingly unlikely, 60-year friendship of (the late) DON RICKLES and Bob Newhart, now 94. The film is short enough that I could convey all the good reasons why they, and their respective wives, got on so well. But you really should watch the film. There are home movie clips that feature the couples on vacation together and clips of their children (also friends) playing—and there is the poignancy of Newhart and his wife, Ginny, talking about their love for Don and his (Jewish) wife, BARBARA (who died in 2022). These are things I can’t replicate here.


Add Comment