King of comedy?
During his long career, Robert De Niro has credibly played two Jewish gangsters, a Jewish film mogul and a Jewish boxing manager. He also proved he could do stand-up in the acclaimed 1982 film “The King of Comedy.” So I was hoping his new film, “The Comedian,” would be a gem, but advance reviews haven’t been good. The film opens on Friday, Feb. 3.
Maybe it’s one to wait for on Netflix or Amazon. But I do recommend eventually watching it for its many Jewish connections. De Niro plays Jackie Berkowitz, a Jewish comic who is trying to get stand-up and web audiences to like him for his new routines, and not just remember him for an iconic TV character he once played.
After being sentenced to community service for accosting an audience member, he meets Harmony, who is played by Leslie Mann, 44 (wife of Judd Apatow). Harvey Keitel, 77, who made his first film with De Niro in 1973, plays Harmony’s father, a Jewish real estate mogul who bonds with Jackie. Look for Charles Grodin, 81, and Gilbert Gottfried, 61, in good-size supporting roles and for Billy Crystal, 68, in a cameo appearance.
Judd Hirsch … again
The new CBS sitcom “Superior Donuts” premiered on a Thursday, but now it’s scheduled to move to its regular time, Mondays at 9 p.m. Based on a play of the same name, it stars Judd Hirsch, 81, as Arthur, a former ’60s radical who owns a doughnut shop in a gentrified area of Chicago. One of the shop’s many patrons is Katey Sagal, 63, who plays a local police officer.
As an aside, Hirsch must love to work and be in good health. He also has had recurring roles on “The Big Bang Theory” and “The Goldbergs.” Hirsch’s son, London, and daughter, Montana, are both in their early 20s; their mother is Hirsch’s ex-wife, designer Bonni Sue Chalkin, 59.
Two more new shows
On Fox, the the drama “APB” starts on Monday, Feb. 6 at 9 p.m. The basic plot: Gordon Reeves (Justin Kirk, 47) is a high-tech billionaire who witnesses his best friend’s murder in Chicago. He then convinces the mayor and city council to allow him to takes over the police force in a troubled district where the murder took place and reboot it as a private police force. Kirk, whose mother is Jewish, played the Jewish character Andy Botwin on “Weeds,” the long-running Showtime series.
“Doubt” is a legal thriller scheduled to air on Feb. 15 at 9 p.m. on CBS. As the series begins, the lead character, an attorney played by Katherine Heigl, has fallen for her client, a doctor accused of murder. Her effort to clear him is the arching plot line of the show. Her firm’s diverse staff includes a transgender attorney, a former felon and Isaiah Roth, described as “a revered legal lion and lefty legend whose approval is the [staff’s] holy grail.” Roth is played by Elliott Gould, 76.
Super Bowl notes
Last year I wrote an article for J. about Jewish players who had appeared in the first 50 years of the Super Bowl. I noted that Nate Ebner, 28, was (and is) a very good New England Patriots special-teams player who appeared in the 2015 Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks. Though he had not been cleared to practice as of late last week (he suffered a concussion in the AFC Championship game), he expects to be on the field in Houston on Sunday, Feb. 5 when the Patriots play the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51.
Last year, I also addressed the constant “Is he Jewish?” questions about Patriots star wide receiver Julian Edelman, 30, a native of Redwood City native. I wrote, in part, that “of his eight great-grandparents, only his paternal great-grandfather was Jewish. Still … Edelman has called himself Jewish, he’s visited Israel and, for the last two years, he’s attended Yom Kippur services.”
Both owners of this year’s Super Bowl teams are Jewish: Robert Kraft, 75 (New England Patriots) and Arthur Blank, 74 (Atlanta Falcons).
Blank is a co-founder of Home Depot along with Bernard Marcus, 87, who received a good amount of ink last year when he came out in support of Donald Trump. Wondering if Blank is in step politically with his fellow Home Depot founder, I did some research and found (via a USA Today article) that while the vast majority of NFL owners give most of their political contributions to the GOP, most of the Jewish owners, including Kraft and Blank, give the majority of their political donations to Democrats. According to that article, Blank in 2008 contributed more money to Barack Obama than any other NFL owner, and in 2012, Kraft did.