88 and still in the game
Opening Nov. 9 in Bay Area theaters is “Monrovia, Indiana,” a 143-minute documentary by Frederick Wiseman, 88. Wiseman, an honorary Oscar winner, is known for having no narration or interviews in his films. Through editing, he shapes the film he wants — a style that creates big variances in how the film is perceived and reviewed. “Monrovia” got rave reviews from NPR and the New York Times, with the latter calling Wiseman’s “visit to Trump country” a “sharp, lyrical look at small-town America.” However, a critic for AVClub.com decried the fact that politics hardly came up in a region that voted heavily for Trump.
Wiseman has made more than 40 documentaries since he stopped being a law professor in 1967, and he helped write one fictional film, “The Last Letter.” The title of that 2002 film refers to a letter a Russian Jewish woman writes to her son before the Nazis kill her. It’s available for free download via the San Francisco Public Library’s Kanopy service (you’ll need an S.F. library card, but any California resident can get one). For details, visit kanopy.com/product/last-letter. The company’s namesake is Zipporah Batshaw, 88, a retired law professor and Wiseman’s wife of 63 years.
On Oct. 2, CBS News announced it was adding Bianna Golodryga (go-low-DREEG-ah) as a fourth co-anchor on its morning show. Golodryga, 40, was born in the former Soviet republic of Moldova, and she was 18 months old when her family came to the U.S. in 1980 as political refugees (they reportedly arrived with $75 to their name). Their resettlement was assisted by what was then called the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society, and “CBS This Morning” did a story about Golodryga’s connection to HIAS after the agency was assailed by the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect.
Since 2004, Golodryga has appeared in increasingly important roles as a reporter and contributor on CNBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC and CBS. In a Jewish ceremony in 2010, she married Peter Orszag, 49, the former Obama administration budget director. They now have two children.
John Berman, 46, recently replaced Chris Cuomo as the co-anchor of the CNN morning program “New Day.” In 2014, Berman traced the roots of his father’s mother’s family (Sephardic Jews) for a CNN feature piece, learning that they went from Portugal to Morocco to Holland to the United States.
Selma Blair’s disclosure
Actress Selma Blair, 46, known for her roles in “Hellboy” and “Cruel Intentions,” disclosed on Oct. 13 that she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in August, sharing the news on Instagram. More women than men are diagnosed with MS, and the diagnosis is usually occurs between ages 20 and 50. MS disables the central nervous system by disrupting the flow of information between the brain and body. Progression and symptoms vary widely from person-to-person.
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I was in this wardrobe fitting two days ago. And I am in the deepest gratitude. So profound, it is, I have decided to share. The brilliant costumer #Allisaswanson not only designs the pieces #harperglass will wear on this new #Netflix show , but she carefully gets my legs in my pants, pulls my tops over my head, buttons my coats and offers her shoulder to steady myself. I have #multiplesclerosis . I am in an exacerbation. By the grace of the lord, and will power and the understanding producers at Netflix , I have a job. A wonderful job. I am disabled. I fall sometimes. I drop things. My memory is foggy. And my left side is asking for directions from a broken gps. But we are doing it . And I laugh and I don’t know exactly what I will do precisely but I will do my best. Since my diagnosis at ten thirty pm on The night of August 16, I have had love and support from my friends , especially @jaime_king @sarahmgellar @realfreddieprinze @tarasubkoff @noah.d.newman . My producers #noreenhalpern who assured me that everyone has something. #chrisregina #aaronmartin and every crew member… thank you. I am in the thick of it but I hope to give some hope to others. And even to myself. You can’t get help unless you ask. It can be overwhelming in the beginning. You want to sleep. You always want to sleep. So I don’t have answers. You see, I want to sleep. But I am a forthcoming person and I want my life to be full somehow. I want to play with my son again. I want to walk down the street and ride my horse. I have MS and I am ok. But if you see me , dropping crap all over the street, feel free to help me pick it up. It takes a whole day for me alone. Thank you and may we all know good days amongst the challenges. And the biggest thanks to @elizberkley who forced me to see her brother #drjasonberkley who gave me this diagnosis after finding lesions on that mri. I have had symptoms for years but was never taken seriously until I fell down in front of him trying to sort out what I thought was a pinched nerve. I have probably had this incurable disease for 15 years at least. And I am relieved to at least know. And share. 🖤 my instagram family… you know who you are.
Blair noted: “I am disabled. I fall sometimes. I drop things. My memory is foggy. And my left side is asking for directions from a broken GPS. But we are doing it. And I laugh and I don’t know exactly what I will do precisely but I will do my best.” The symptoms have not stopped Blair from working on a new Netflix sci-fi series, “Another Life,” in which she co-stars as a reporter.
Blair thanked a number of friends for their support, including actresses Sarah Michelle Gellar, 41, and Elizabeth Berkeley, 46. Gellar co-starred with Blair in the 1999 hit film “Cruel Intentions,” and Berkley went to the same suburban Detroit private school as Blair, who previously had attended a Hillel school. Blair also thanked Berkley for insisting she see her brother, Dr. Jason Berkeley, 45, a neurologist affiliated with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. After an MRI, he was able to diagnose her.
Briefly noted funnies
On Oct. 22, Amy Schumer, 37, disclosed to reporter Jessica Yellen, 47, that she is pregnant. The news was slipped into an email to Yellin listing the Democrats that Schumer is supporting in the midterm elections. Yellin posted the email on Instagram. A few days later, Schumer told the Los Angeles Times that she and her husband, Chris Fischer, “are thrilled and almost positive he is the father. I look forward to competing with [Princess Meghan] Markle every step of the way.”
A few weeks ago, MSNBC host Ari Melber, 38, had as his guest David Corn, 59, the chief Washington correspondent for Mother Jones magazine, leading to a rare “Jewbro” exchange in prime time. Knowing that Melber is a big rap music fan, Corn asked him to “come up with a rap lyric word for collusion.” “First of all, David,” Melber replied, “the DJ doesn’t take requests here. [Pause] I’m just kidding, I’m dying to be a bar mitzvah DJ and if I do, I’ll take requests. It’s what a good DJ does.” Replied Corn: “I can only regret that you were not there for my bar mitzvah.”