Jewish stars of TV season
The following is a list of new broadcast network TV shows that premiere through Sept. 22 and have a Jewish cast member or members in an important role.
Kat Dennings, 25, co-stars in the CBS comedy “2 Broke Girls.” She plays one of two waitresses working at a Brooklyn greasy spoon who hope, one day, to open their own eatery (starts Sept. 19 at 9:30 p.m., a “special time” right after “Two and a Half Men.” Thereafter, 8:30 p.m. Mondays); starting the same night, at 10 p.m. on NBC, is “The Playboy Club.” Set in 1963, it’s a largely fictional take on the first Playboy Club in Chicago. David Krumholtz, 33, co-stars as Billy Rosen, the club’s manager.
Starting Tuesday, Sept. 13 is “Ringer,” starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, 34 (9 p.m., CW). Gellar plays a woman who, after witnessing a murder, goes on the run and assumes the life of her rich identical twin sister — only to learn that her sister’s life is very complicated and very dangerous. Starting on Sept. 20 is “New Girl,” a sitcom starring Zooey Deschanel as a nice girl who moves in with three single guys after a romantic breakup. One of them, “Schmidt,” a Casanova, is played by Max Greenfield, 30 (9 p.m., Fox).
Starting 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14 is the NBC comedy “Up All Night.” Christina Applegate stars as a successful businesswoman, with Will Arnett as her stay-at-home husband/baby caregiver. Maya Rudolph, 39, co-stars as Applegate’s boss and best friend. “Free Agents,” a workplace comedy, begins on NBC right after “Up All Night.” Hank Azaria, 47, plays Alex, a newly divorced public relations executive. He has a one-night stand with his gorgeous co-worker (Kathryn Hahn), but she just wants to be friends. His co-workers, including one played by standup comic Mo Mandel, 30, try to get Alex to date again.
Mandel, who grew up in rural Boonville, in Mendocino County, was profiled by j. in 2007. Mandel, who became a bar mitzvah and went to Israel via Birthright, told this paper that his was one of only four Jewish families in Boonville: “We had a shrink, a real estate broker and a doctor. It was like they just imported Jews to improve the town.”
Starting at 8 p.m. Sept. 21 is the talent competition show “The X-Factor,” in which the judges scour the country for vocal talent (solo and groups), with a $5 million prize package for the winner. The show reunites, as judges, Paula Abdul, 49, and Simon Cowell (who found out a few years ago that his late father was Jewish).
Finally, the season of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” begins at 8 p.m. Sept. 19. The celebrity dancers include actress and talk show host Ricki Lake, 42. Also dancing is actor David Arquette, whose late mother was Jewish. Long story short: While Arquette is proud of his Jewish background, I’d have to say that he is a nondenominational Christian now, based on his statements about religion.
The Emmys, for excellence in primetime TV, will be telecast live on Fox at 5 p.m. Sept. 18. Here are the Jewish nominees in the acting categories: Julianna Margulies (“The Good Wife”), lead actress in a TV drama; Josh Charles (“The Good Wife”), lead actor in a TV drama; Evan Rachel Wood and Mare Winningham (“Mildred Pierce”), supporting actress, mini-series/movie; Randee Heller (“Mad Men”), guest performance, drama; and Elizabeth Banks (“30 Rock”) and Gwyneth Paltrow (“Glee”), guest actress, comedy.
There are too many nominated Jewish writers and directors to name here. Some are multiple past winners, such as Jon Stewart (nominated as producer and writer of “The Daily Show”) and Matthew Weiner (producer and writer of “Mad Men”). Local pride makes me note that Berkeley natives Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer are nominated for writing “Saturday Night Live.”