‘Game of Thrones’ mania
This month’s top TV event is the Sunday, April 14 return of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” for its eighth and final season. Creators David Benioff, 48, and D.B. Weiss, 47, who wrote many episodes in past seasons, are the credited writers for all but the opener in the six-episode final season (they also co-directed the finale).
Miguel Sapochnik, 44, directed two episodes in this final season, after directing just four in the first seven seasons. An English Jew of Argentine Jewish ancestry, he directed the great “Hardhome” from season 5 and the stupendous “Battle of the Bastards” in season 6 (for which he won an Emmy for best director). Since 2006, he’s been married to actress Alexis Raben, 38, a Russian immigrant who grew up in the U.S. and now plays Rohm on the Syfy series “Krypton.”
Two Jewish actors who have etched their name in “Game of Thrones” lore are Paul Kaye, 54, and Anton Lesser, 67. Kaye’s character, Thoros of Myr, was a priest of the Red God and member of the Brotherhood Without Banners who died last season. Lesser plays Qyburn, a learned man who has become the evil Queen Cersei’s chief advisor.
“Game of Thrones” is full of plot lines in which characters discover previously unknown parentage and/or family ties, but here are two real-life ones of note: 1, Benioff was born David Friedman and uses his mother’s maiden name as his nom de plume. He shares a maternal great-grandfather with Marc Benioff, 54, the billionaire CEO of S.F.-based Salesforce. David and Marc only became aware of each other and their family ties after after both became famous. 2, George R.R. Martin, the author of the fantasy novel series that was adapted into “Game of Thrones,” was on the PBS ancestry series “Finding Your Roots” this season. He didn’t know of any Jewish ancestry until the program’s DNA tests revealed that his paternal grandfather was an Ashkenazi Jew (with whom his grandmother apparently had an extramarital affair).
If you are a “Game of Thrones” fan, check out these funny commercials (video embedded below_ from the comedy website Laugh Or Die . A few ads for the Israeli company SodaStream feature 6-foot-9 Icelandic strongman Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson who plays Gregor Clegane aka “The Mountain,” and another co-stars Mayim Bialik, 43, and the simple-minded “Thrones” character Hodor, played by Irish actor and DJ Kristian Nairn
‘Crazy Ex’ finale
The series’ finale of the CW series “My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” will air on Friday, April 5, but you don’t have to be a fan to tune into the 9 p.m. special afterward, “Yes, It’s Really Us Singing: The ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ Concert Special.” Taped in March, the special features star Rachel Bloom, 31, and the “Crazy Ex” cast performing the show’s most memorable songs, backed by a band and orchestra.
Bloom, Adam Schlesinger, 51, and Jack Dolgen, 50ish, wrote some 150 songs for the series, which led to three Emmy nominations. Though this blog entry (tinyurl.com/crex-topjewish) hasn’t been updated for a couple of years, it’s a pretty cool ranking of “Crazy Ex” songs from most to least Jewish.
Bloom, by the way — unlike her very Jewish character, Rebecca Bunch — is happily married, since 2015, to Dan Gregor, 39, a successful TV sitcom writer (“How I Met Your Mother” and others). Bloom’s rabbi cousin performed their wedding.
At the movies
In the new movie “Shazam!,” which opens Friday, April 5, Billy Batson (the teen who can magically turn into an adult with superpowers) is played by Asher Angel, 16, co-star of the Disney Channel comedy-drama “Andi Mack.” He comes from an observant Arizona family and had a bar mitzvah. Adam Brody, 39, also stars in the movie as Captain Marvel Jr.