Pass the remote
Now streaming on Hulu is “The First,” a limited series (eight episodes) about the first human mission to Mars. Former Marin County homeowner Sean Penn, 58, stars as an astronaut selected for the mission. Some reviewers have praised Penn’s performance and the series, though some say the show takes to long too get into space, but gets much better once it does.
The first season of “Forever” is now streaming on Amazon. It stars Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph, 46, as a long-married couple. Caught up in a rut, they try to shake things up — which leads to unexpected results and plot twists. Reviews of the first eight episodes have ranged from good to great, and I give a thumbs-up. Noah Robbins, who turns 28 on Oct. 6, appears in six episodes as Mark, a 17-year old skateboarder. Robbins’ credits include starring in a 2009 Broadway revival of “Brighton Beach Memoirs,”a play written by Neil Simon, who died Aug. 26 at age 91.
“Star Wars: Resistance” started on the Disney Channel at 10 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7. Set decades after the events in the “Return of the Jedi” (1983) and six months before “The Force Awakens,” the JJ Abrams-directed first film in the current trilogy, the series follows a pilot who is recruited to spy on the growing threat of the First Order. One of the regulars is Josh Brener, 34, who starred as Nelson “Big Head” Bighetti on HBO’s “Silicon Valley.” The show expands the visual pallet of the Star Wars universe in an anime-inspired direction.
‘A Star Is Born’ … again
Opening this week is the fourth film production of “A Star Is Born” (earlier versions hit the big screen in 1937, 1954 and 1976). Lady Gaga stars as Ally, a struggling musical artist who becomes romantically involved with a big star, played by Bradley Cooper, who also directed and co-wrote the film (and sings in it). The script was co-written by Oscar-winner Eric Roth, 73 (“Forrest Gump”); the songs are new and many were written by Lady Gaga. Producer-songwriter Mark Ronson, 43, co-wrote one tune with Gaga (“Shallow”) and nine-time Oscar nominee Diane Warren, 62, co-wrote another (“Why Did You Do That?”).
Barbra Streisand, 76, who co-starred in the 1976 remake, recently told the TV show “Extra” that she had seen the new version. “I loved it. I think it is wonderful,” she gushed. “She [Lady Gaga] is wonderful. Bradley [Cooper] told me he spent months with her working to see her real self … I think they are going to have a big hit.” Streisand added that’s she’s friends with Lady Gaga and addresses her by her real first name, Stefani.
Coming soon to a theater near you is “Beautiful Boy,” a movie based on a pair of memoirs, one by journalist David Sheff, 62, and the other by his son NIC, 36, about the latter’s battle with drug addiction. Oscar-nominee Timothée Chalamet, 22, plays Nic. Sheff, a UC Berkeley grad, lives in Inverness in West Marin.
A bouncing baby boy
Media sources were reporting last week that Vampire Weekend lead vocalist and guitarist Ezra Koenig, 34, and actress Rashida Jones, 42, “secretly” had a son named Isaiah Jones Koenig on Aug. 22. The boy is Jones’ first child and I believe the same is true of Koenig. Jones is the daughter of actress Peggy Lipton, 72, who played flower-child Julie in “The Mod Squad,” and legendary music producer Quincy Jones, 85.
Jones, a Harvard University grad, is multitalented. She’s a competent comedy actress (TV’s “Parks and Recreation” and “Angie Tribeca”) and has drama chops, as well. Plus, she produces and helps write many of her showbiz projects (such as “Angie” and the very good 2012 film “Celeste and Jesse Forever,” in which she starred with Andy Samberg, 40). She also co-wrote a documentary about her father (“Quincy”) that began streaming on Netflix in September. Oh, and she can sing, too.
Jones was raised Jewish and identifies strongly as Jewish, and most of her beaus (including Ronson, the songwriter mentioned in the “A Star is Born” item) have been Jewish. Likewise, Koenig, the son of two Jewish parents, was raised Jewish in New Jersey and had a bar mitzvah. He earned a scholarship to Columbia University, where he and three fellow students formed Vampire Weekend (an alternative rock band) in 2005. The group broke out in 2010 with a CD (“Contra”) that was a big seller worldwide. Koenig also is the creator of the Netflix animated series “Neo Yokio” — and, I have to say, he, like Jones, is quite cute … two sheyne punims.