Another Hebrew in high-tech hollow
The third season of the hit HBO series “Silicon Valley” starts on April 24. I recently learned that star T.J. Miller, 34, has a Jewish mother and that he did a benefit appearance last year for the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. “Silicon Valley” has been Miller’s breakthrough role after a long career as a stand-up comedian with a stoner persona. The character he plays is Ehrlich Bachman, a former computer programmer who offers space in his Silicon Valley home as a startup incubator in exchange for a share of future profits. The tech nerds from the company Pied Piper who live and work in his house come to appreciate the creative wackiness that Bachman, a frequent pot smoker, brings to the venture. He works alongside fellow Jewish cast members Zach Woods (who plays Jared), Josh Brener (Big Head) and Ben Feldman (Ron LaFlamme).
In other TV news, the first season of the Netflix animated series “Kong: King of the Apes” is being released on Friday, April 15. Executive produced by Israeli Avi Arad, 67, it is set in 2050 and begins with Kong living on Alcatraz Island, which has been turned into the most impressive natural history and marine preserve on the planet.
At the movies
“Criminal,” an action flick opening April 15, was directed by Ariel Vromen, 43, who served in the Israel Defense Force’s elite airborne evacuation and rescue unit. The film is about a last-ditch effort to stop a diabolical plot by surgically implanting the memories, secrets and skills of a dead CIA agent into a dangerous death-row inmate. The CIA hopes the convict will complete the agent’s mission. The implant also includes the agent’s deep love for his wife and family and his strong sense of responsibility. Israeli Gal Gadot, 30, plays the wife, who helps reinforce the man’s new sense of purpose.
Gadot, of course, is in the news these days for her role as Wonder Woman in “Batman v. Superman.” Though the movie hasn’t been getting great reviews, that’s not the case for Gadot’s stunning red-carpet dress worn at the film’s premiere. W magazine commented: “It’s Wonder Woman’s world, we’re just living in it.”
In “Dazed and Confused” (1993), director-writer Richard Linklater captured stoner high school life in the 1970s. His new film, “Everybody Wants Some!!” is described as a “spiritual sequel” to the earlier film. It follows a group of college freshmen friends in the 1980s as they navigate the ups-and-downs of unsupervised adulthood over one weekend. Co-stars include Zoey Deutch, 21, and Wyatt Russell, 29. Russell, the son of Goldie Hawn, 70, and actor Kurt Russell, played in the top level of junior league pro hockey until injuries led him to “go into the family business” around 2010. Back when he was a pro athlete, he told Jewish Sports Review magazine that he identified as Jewish but wasn’t religious. The film is playing in the Bay Area.
Jon Favreau, 49, is the director of “The Jungle Book,” a new live-action version of the 1967 Disney animated film that is said to be truer to the original Kipling stories. Jewish thespians voicing key characters include Favreau (Pygmy Hog); Scarlett Johansson, 31 (Kaa); the late Garry Shandling (Ikki), and Sam Raimi, 56, as Giant Squirrel. Best known as a director, Raimi (“Spider-Man” trilogy) occasionally takes small acting jobs. Top actors and directors often agree to be in films that they can watch with their kids. Raimi has five children with his wife, Gillian Greene, 48 (daughter of the late Lorne Greene of “Bonanza” fame.) The film opens April 15.
Columnist Nate Bloom, an Oaklander, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.