Small screen premieres
The History Channel archeology series, “Digging for the Truth,” got great ratings and turned Josh Bernstein, the host, into a TV star. The Discovery Channel has lured him away and his new Discovery series, “Into the Unknown with Josh Bernstein,” began last week. A repeat showing of the series’ second episode, about Noah’s ark, can be seen Saturday, Aug. 30, at 1 p.m. New episodes premiere Mondays at 10 p.m.
Bernstein, 37, is a Cornell graduate who spent a post-graduate year at Jerusalem’s Pardes Institute studying Jewish mysticism. A consulting position with the History Channel led to his “Digging” host job. A Toronto Globe and Mail critic recently outlined Josh’s appeal: “With his tousled hair and his attractively craggy face, he [acts] as a stand-in for the couch-potato dude who fancies himself a history buff … Bernstein has to be the perfect fantasy persona. He’s suitably smart and comfortably casual, and he inhabits the high end of the geeky-sexy spectrum.”
Steven Bochco, the creator of “Hill Street Blues” and “NYPD Blue,” has a new TNT cable series, “Raising the Bar,” about the lives of public defenders and district attorneys (it begins Sept. 1 at 10 p.m.). The series co-creator is law professor David Feige, a former top public defender in the Bronx and the author of “Indefensible,” an acclaimed study of the criminal justice system. Feige, the son of an economics professor, told the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, “I think the combination of being Jewish and being a child of an academic created a culture in my home that valued genuine thought and real questioning of the world.”
Feige’s Web site (www.davidfeige.com) is a great collection of his articles for scores of publications, including one for Modern Bride in which he recounts how he and other family members made squares to be sewn into his sister’s chuppah.
Director’s brother’s big gig?
“Traitor,” which opened Aug. 27, stars Don Cheadle (“Hotel Rwanda”) as a former army special operations officer who is suspected of being in bed with terrorists. He is chased around the world by an FBI agent (Guy Pearce), and gradually a larger conspiracy emerges.
The director and screenwriter is Jeffrey Nachmanoff, 41 (“Day After Tomorrow”). This is Nachmanoff’s first major film as a director, but he also wrote and directed the award-winning short “The Big Gig,” about Jewish gangsters. Jeffrey’s brother, David Nachmanoff, 44, is a former philosophy instructor turned folksinger who told me that he and Jeffrey were each bar mitzvahed. David’s tunes include “Let’s Eat,” a song he wrote that can be lyrically modified to celebrate almost any Jewish holiday (check it out on YouTube). David, who lives in Davis, will be Al Stewart’s opening act at the Sausalito Art Festival, Sunday, Aug. 31, 12:15 p.m. on the main stage.
Last year, singer Britney Spears briefly dated a Jewish male model. A third-rate gossip rag then invented a story that Spears was going to convert to Judaism. Quickly, many Web sites and papers, including Jewish ones, re-reported this story as credible. Last week, a healthy looking Spears was photographed wearing a large cross.
A couple weeks ago, a third-rate gossip rag reported a “source” saying that troubled actress Lindsay Lohan is contemplating converting to Judaism, the religion of her “apparent” romantic partner, club DJ Samantha Ronson (her brother, Mark Ronson, is a top music producer). Many Web sites echoed the “Lohan becoming Jewish” story, and much of the Jewish press reported it as if it is true.
If Las Vegas bookmakers got involved with these things, the odds of Lohan ever converting would be 100 to 1. It’s also 100 to 1 that there won’t be another phony celebrity conversion story within the next year.
Columnist Nate Bloom , an Oaklander, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.