Columnist Nate Bloom, an Oaklander, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Superhero showdown and more
The blockbuster action film “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” opens March 25. No doubt the late Bob Kane, who created Batman, and the late Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who created Superman, would be surprised to see the duo at odds. However, a superhero showdown is a novel twist — at the movies, at least — and we’ll see how well it’s done. The film opens with Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill) at odds over proper use of superpowers. Enter Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg, 32), a billionaire sociopath, who unleashes the classic Superman adversary Doomsday. The duo is then united against the common threat.
The film features the first appearance of Wonder Woman in a major movie, and the Jewish press has been kvelling about the casting of Israeli actress Gal Gadot, 30 (“Fast & Furious”) in that role. The news gets better: Wonder Woman is a major character in the film and will reappear in future DC Extended Universe films. Also appearing in a brief scene is Ezra Miller, 23, as the Flash. Gadot’s Wonder Woman and Miller’s Flash will get their own movies in 2017 and 2018, respectively, and both will appear in the forthcoming Justice League movies.
Melissa Rauch, 35, is best known as Bernadette on “The Big Bang Theory.” On the show, she is a Catholic married to a Jew and speaks in a high, childlike voice. In real life, she’s Jewish and her natural voice is actually a mite lower than that of most women. You’ll hear her natural voice in “The Bronze,” a comedy she co-wrote and in which she stars. Rauch plays Hope, a small-town Ohio woman who years before clinched a bronze medal in Olympic gymnastics. Her inspired performance briefly made her a national hero (like real-life gymnast Kerri Strug, 38, whose dramatic vault clinched a U.S. team gold medal in 1996). Unlike Strug, Hope hasn’t moved on and spends her days in the mall, in her team uniform, milking her fading celebrity for food and favors. Things change when she’s told she’ll inherit a lot of money if she coaches a local teen gymnastics prodigy. The movie opens March 18.
The cast for the new season of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” which begins at 8 p.m. Monday, March 21, includes Fox News journalist Geraldo Rivera, 72. Rivera, the son of a Jewish mother and a Puerto Rican father, was raised Jewish and had a bar mitzvah. In recent years, he has identified more strongly as Jewish. His wife since 2003, Erica Michelle Levy, 40, is Jewish and they have a 10-year-old daughter. Also dancing is Marla Maples, Donald Trump’s ex-wife. Her presence in the cast, in light of recent events, should cause ratings to skyrocket for a while.
The comedic game show “Separation Anxiety” premiered March 8, with new episodes airing 10 p.m. Tuesdays on TBS. Host Iliza Shlesinger, 33, tests couples on how well their partners know trivia in various subjects. Shlesinger, who has often played San Francisco, began doing improv in college. In 2008, she became the first woman and the youngest contestant to win NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” standup competition. Over on YouTube, you can watch her present three “Laugh Out Loud Jewish Jokes” submitted to an online contest.
Early in February, “Empire” star Jussie Smollett, 32, visited Flint, Michigan, and donated $10,000 to relief efforts. On Oscars night, Feb. 28, the Santa Rosa native joined other African American stars onstage in Flint to raise awareness of the city’s water crisis and raise money for its residents. Smollett sang a song. The son of a Jewish father and an African American mother, Smollett, in his own words, identifies as “an African American and a Jewish man.” By the way, his sister Jurnee Smollett-Bell, 29, co-stars in “Underground in Louisiana,” a new 10-episode WGN series about the Underground Railroad that began March 9, with new episodes airing Wednesdays at 10 p.m. Christopher Meloni (“Law & Order: SVU”) co-stars.