At the movies
“The Oath,” which opens nationally on Friday, Oct. 19, is a searing political comedy that was written and directed by its star, Ike Barinholtz, 41. He plays Chris, who is outraged when he learns that Americans are being asked to sign a loyalty oath, or lose tax credits. The deadline to sign coincides with a family Thanksgiving hosted by Chris and his wife, played by comedian-actress Tiffany Haddish, 38. There’s an agreement that no politics will be discussed at the table, but good luck on that. Carrie Brownstein, 44, co-stars as Chris’ left-wing sister. Haddish is the daughter of an Eritrean Jewish father and an African American mother. As her career soared after the success of “Girls Trip” in 2017, her unusual Jewish background has come to light. When Mayim Bialik, 42, learned of it last spring, she issued Haddish an online invitation to her Passover seder.
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (Oct. 19) is a comedy-drama based on a memoir of the same name by Lee Israel, an American author who died in 2014 at 75. Israel (played by Melissa McCarthy) had some success in the 1960s writing profiles and books about celebrities. In 1983, was contracted to write a biography of cosmetics mogul Estée Lauder (1908-2004). She had some dirt on Lauder, such as knowing Lauder came from a working-class Jewish family in Queens, New York, and was not the European-born daughter of aristocrats, as Lauder claimed. Lauder tried to bribe Israel to kill the book, but Israel refused. When the book was unsuccessful, Israel went into a career tailspin, propelled by alcoholism, and started selling letters that were supposedly penned by the rich and famous (but were actually forged by her). The FBI finally caught up with her and she served a short jail sentence. Nicole Holofcener, 58, co-wrote the screenplay.
Forty years ago, the original slasher film “Halloween” starred Jamie Lee Curtis, 59, as the only survivor of a killing spree by Michael Myers. The original (being shown in theaters for its 40th anniversary) spawned 11 sequels and remakes, including a new one called, once again, “Halloween.” Curtis stars as Laurie Strode for the fourth time in the series, but this time it will be “the final confrontation” between her and Michael Myers, PR materials promise.
Netflix’s current lineup includes the critically acclaimed original film “Private Life,” starring Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn (who both have Jewish spouses) as a middle-age couple desperately hoping to have a child. The film was written and directed by Tamara Jenkins, 56. Jenkins, who was raised by her Jewish father, chronicled her chaotic but loving childhood in the terrific 1998 comedy “Slums of Beverly Hills.”
“Camping,” a comedy that started Oct. 14 on HBO, follows a married couple (Jennifer Garner and David Tennant) who have issues that come to a head during a camping trip. Based on a British TV series, the U.S. version is written and produced by “Girls” creator-writer-star Lena Dunham, 32, and Jenni Konner, 47, who also wrote for “Girls.” Regulars on the show include Ione Skye, 47, and Brett Gelman, 41. Skye, who starred with John Cusack in the 1989 classic “Say Anything,” was raised by her mother, an American Jew; her father is ‘60s Scottish folk rocker Donovan (“Mellow Yellow”). She has been married to Australian-born rocker Ben Lee, 40, since 2008.
“Tell Me a Story” is scheduled to begin streaming on CBS All Access on Oct. 31. The handsome James Wolk, 33 (“Mad Men”), is a regular on the series, in which classic fairy tales are, according to a press release, “re-imagined as a dark and twisted psychological thriller” set in modern-day New York.
“Homecoming,” starting Nov. 2 on Netflix, is based on a well-received fictional podcast of the same name, Julia Roberts plays a caseworker assigned to a young veteran at a secret government facility. “Girls” actor Alex Karpovsky, 43, plays an employee at the facility.
Jews galore in baseball playoffs
The World Series, opening on Tuesday, Oct. 23, is guaranteed to have one Jewish player on each team’s roster. In the two league championship series (whose results were unknown at press time), each of the four teams involved had one Jewish player — marking the first time ever that all four teams in the LCS had a Jewish player.
The Jew crew: Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson, 26; Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun 34; Boston Red Sox second baseman Ian Kinsler, 36; and Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, 24.
Pederson grew up in Palo Alto and is such a streaky hitter that a big slump earned him a ticket to the minors in the second half of the regular season. Pederson, whose mother is Jewish, calls himself religiously “a nothing,” but he did play for Israel in 2012 in a World Baseball Classic qualifying round. Braun is a 12-year veteran and six-time All-Star who was 2007 Rookie of the Year and 2011 MVP in the National League. He is the son of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother and has said he’s proud to be role model for Jewish kids.
The Boston Red Sox traded for Kinsler, a four-time All-Star, in August; he is also the son of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother. Bregman, the MVP of this summer’s Major League All-Star Game (first time for a Jewish player), grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where his family belongs to a synagogue and he had a bar mitzvah. His paternal grandfather was a lawyer who did work for the old Washington Senators and his great-grandfather, a Russian immigrant, promoted boxing matches.