The family on the ABC comedy series “The Goldbergs” didn’t come out as Jewish until an episode almost halfway into the show’s third season — the 57th episode overall. A long wait, for sure, but, then again, it was a well-written episode that explored the problems of being Jewish during the Christmas season. Hanukkah will again be at the center of “The Goldbergs” in an episode set to air at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 13, with the main plot involving a competition to throw the best Hanukkah party. There’s also a subplot about Pops (George Segal, 83) advising his grandson to become popular by entering a school talent show; it’s only then that he realizes the boy can’t sing.
At 7 p.m. on Dec. 17, Fox will present “A Christmas Story Live!” It’s a three-hour production inspired by the popular 1983 movie and the hit 2013 Broadway musical. The musical (music and lyrics) was written by the team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, both 32. They also wrote the lyrics for the song “City of Stars” in the movie “La La Land,” winning the 2016 Academy Award for best song. For those who have never seen “A Christmas Story,” it’s a heartwarming and very secular tale about a boy named Ralphie and his family that takes place in the 1940s. Matthew Broderick, 55, will narrate the live TV special as the voice of Ralphie as an adult, and Maya Rudolph, 45, will co-star as Ralphie’s mother. Pasek and Paul wrote several new songs for the special, including one Hanukkah song. The news of the Hanukkah song was broken by Ana Gasteyer, who will play Mrs. Schwartz, the mother of one of Ralphie’s friends. I’m guessing that the Schwartzes have become Jewish in this retelling.
“The Disaster Artist” (which opened in wide release on Friday, Dec. 8) depicts the meeting and early friendship of Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero, the actors behind the 2003 cult film “The Room” — often hailed as the “Citizen Kane” of bad movies. “The Disaster Artist” recounts the troubled making of “The Room” and Wiseau and Sestero’s ensuing careers. Palo Alto-raised James Franco, 39, directed “Artist” and plays Wiseau; his brother, Dave Franco, 32, plays Sestero. Appearing in major supporting roles are Seth Rogen, 35, Alison Brie, 34 (who is married to Dave Franco) and Ari Graynor, 34, who plays Cassie Feder in HBO’s “I’m Dying Up Here.” Advance reviews are mostly very positive; however, it’s a quirky film about a quirky film, so it’s not for everybody.
Set for its U.S. release on Friday, Dec. 15 is “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” The Skywalker saga continues as the heroes of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015) return for an epic adventure. The late Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia, makes her final screen appearance in this film.
Apatow on stage
After a 25-year absence, Judd Apatow, 49, has made his return to stand-up comedy with a performance you can catch on Netflix starting on Tuesday, Dec. 12. In “Judd Apatow: The Return,” the talented writer, producer and director will be riffing on living with his wife and two daughters, as well as recounting amusing career moments. Apatow was a relative failure as a stand-up comedian back in the ’80s, but his time on stage led to a few TV writing gigs for “The Larry Sanders Show,” “Freaks and Geeks” and “Undeclared.” Then his big breakthrough came when he wrote and directed “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” in 2004.
Jeopardy whiz related to S.F. rabbi
The winner of this year’s “Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions,” in a very exciting final, was Austin “Buzzy” Cohen, 32, a music executive from Los Angeles.
In a J. “Faces” column in 2016, columnist Suzan Berns interviewed Rabbi Moshe Levin of Congregation Ner Tamid in San Francisco right after Cohen had won $164,000 on regular “Jeopardy!” Cohen is married to Elisha Levin, the rabbi’s daughter. The proud father-in-law, who retired from the pulpit 13 months ago, told Berns, “I always knew he was smart and funny, but didn’t know he was that smart and funny.”
Cohen earned $250,000 for his Tournament of Champions triumph.