Stars of David — Jewish Celebrities
Movies and streaming
“Charlie’s Angels” which opened last Friday and is based on the ‘70s TV series, follows two previous “Angels” feature films. The gimmick in this one is that the private agency that employs the Angels has expanded and now there are several teams of Angels along with several “Bosleys” (Bosley is the liaison to the Angels from Charlie, their unseen employer). Kristen Stewart is the most famous actress playing an Angel. Patrick Stewart and ELIZABETH BANKS, 45, are the best known thespians playing a Bosley. Banks also directed the film and wrote it. JONATHAN TUCKER, 37, plays the film’s villain.
Charlie only talks to the Angels by speakerphone and the new film doesn’t credit anyone as the voice of Charlie. Banks said in an interview that the voice will be close to the voice of JOHN FORSYTHE (1918-2010). Born Jacob Freund, Forsythe voiced Charlie on the TV series. He is best remembered for playing Blake Carrington on the TV show “Dynasty.” He was Jewish, but never talked about it.
“Dark Waters” and “Frankie” open at the Plaza Frontenac Theater on Friday (Nov. 22). “Dark Waters” is based on the true story of Robert Billot (played by Mark Ruffalo), a corporate defense lawyer who switched sides and took on Dupont for releasing toxic chemicals that resulted in several deaths. VICTOR GARBER, 70, and MARE WINNINGHAM, 60, have large supporting roles. The film was directed TODD HAYNES, 58 (“Carol,” “Far from Heaven”). Haynes’ mother was Jewish and he identifies as Jewish.
“Neighborhood” is about Fred Rogers, the late beloved children’s program host. Tom Hanks, often referred to as the nicest man in showbiz, plays Rogers, a truly wonderful and caring man. Rogers’ story is told through the eyes of a journalist (Matthew Rhys) who is assigned to write a magazine profile of Rogers and is greatly affected by his contact with Rogers.
Fred Rogers lived in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh and that is where his TV shows were made. As everyone now knows, Squirrel Hill is the site of the Tree of Life synagogue, which was attacked in October, 2018. The neighborhood has always had a large Jewish population and Rogers, an ordained minister, was on great terms with his Jewish neighbors.
“Beautiful” was filmed in Pittsburgh, just before the temple shooting. The film was directed by MARIELLE HELLER, 40. A few weeks after the shooting, Heller told a podcaster: “It was very weird…to get to know a city so well, be so in love with the city, and feel like it was our new home and then leave and have this horrible tragedy happen.
“A Marriage Story,” a Netflix film, opened in limited release on Nov. 6 and begins streaming on Dec. 6. It has received excellent advance reviews from leading critics. Capsule plot: a stage director (Adam Driver) and an actress (SCARLETT JOHANSSON, 34) are struggling through a grueling divorce. WALLACE SHAWN, 75, has a supporting role. The film was directed and written by NOAH BAUMBACH, 50.
The original Amazon Prime series “Modern Love” is now streaming. The eight-episode series is “inspired by” true love stories originally published in the New York Times column “Modern Love.” Each episode stands alone. JULIA GARNER, 25, stars in episode 5. Directed by actress EMMY ROSSUM, 33, the story revolves around a “sort of” May-December romance. Garner won a 2019 Emmy for best supporting actress in a TV drama (“Ozark”).
Connecting with Jewish family history
Comedian and actress TIFFANY HADDISH, 39, was long a stand-up comedian before becoming famous via a great performance in the 2017 film comedy “Girl’s Trip.” In 2018, she got a co-starring role on “The Last O.G.,” a TBS series that was just renewed for a third season. The same year, she became the first African-American woman to host “Saturday Night Live.” Her “SNL” gig earned her an Emmy for best guest performance in a comedy series. In October, she began hosting “Kids Say the Darndest Things” on ABC.
Haddish’s late father, an Eritrean Jew, was deported when she was 3. She was a teenager when she learned that he was Jewish and she got to know him know him as an adult. She told USA Today that she recently went to Eritrea to bury her father and now feels “more connected to her Jewish heritage.” She added that she is studying Hebrew and plans to have a bat mitzvah in which she reads from the Torah. Plans are to have the ceremony coincide with the premiere of “Black Mitzvah,” an upcoming Netflix special about her spiritual journey (no streaming date set yet).