A Note on New Movies

Big-budget films set for release in late March, or later, have been delayed due to the Covid-19 virus situation. The “flip side” to these delayed theater releases is the very early release to “video-on-demand” (VOD) of films that recently played theaters. These quick-to-VOD releases include: “Call of the Wild” (starring HARRISON FORD, 77); “Sonic the Hedgehog” (An animated film. BEN SCHWARTZ, 38, voices the title character); “Frozen II” (IDINA MENZEL, 48, and JOSH GAD, 39, co-star in this animated musical). The last two films should keep most children entertained for many hours. All these films are available on ITunes or Amazon.

New or Newish Choices for In-Home Viewing

On April 10, Netflix will release the entire, 8-episode first season of “Brews Brothers”. This sit-com is about Wilhelm and Adam Rodman, two estranged brothers who end up running a brewery together. They are both master brewers, but they have very different personalities and work habits. ALAN AISENBERG, 27, plays Wilhelm. Aisenberg, who had recurring role on “Orange is the New Black,” began his acting career at a New Jersey Jewish community center. “Brews” has some writers with a great track record (“Seinfeld”, other good shows) and may be much better than it sounds.

“A World on Fire,” a big budget, 7-episode BBC series began airing on PBS (Masterpiece Theater) last Sunday, April 5 (you can catch the first episode easily on-line or in encore showings). It shows the effects of the first year (1939-40) of WWII on ordinary people in many European countries and was filmed on location in France, Britain, Germany and Poland. Reviews are good, if not great. It did well enough in England that a second series has been ordered. The very handsome JONAH HAUER-KING, 24, has a major role as Harry Chase, an interpreter at the British embassy in Warsaw who later becomes a British army officer who takes part in secret missions in Nazi-occupied Europe. In Dec. 2018, I wrote about Hauer-King when he starred in his first big film role (“A Dog’s Life”). Here’s a short recap—he was raised religiously Jewish in London; his American mother is Jewish (not sure about his English dad); and Hauer-King is a dual U.K./U.S. citizen. Here’s what’s new to me: I just learned that HAUER-KING can sing (!) and last November he was cast as a co-star (“Prince Eric”) of an upcoming Disney live action musical film version of “The Little Mermaid.” Next week, I will continue my promised top 10 list of Jewish actors who can sing.

 

In Memoriam

Last week, I reported that busy character actor MARK BLUM died, age 69 on Mar. 25 of complications of the Covid-19 virus. On April 1, musician and composer ADAM SCHLESINGER died, age, 52, from complications of our modern plague. Blum’s most seen roles came early in his career (1985-86), and, kind of sadly, he played a comic jerk in both roles (boring husband in “Desperately Seeking Susan” and snobby boyfriend in “Crocodile Dundee”). I gather that his stage work was much more well-rounded. Only a few weeks ago, I mentioned that Schlesinger, an Emmy and Grammy winner, and an Oscar-nominee, was working on a new Broadway musical with FRAN DRESCHER. I highly recommend a (free) April 3rd on-line article in “The Atlantic” called “What Adam Schlesinger Knew”. It really captures the influences on Schlesinger and the wide range of his outstanding work in rock and other genres.

 

Two Little Passover Funnies

The following anecdotes have appeared in this column before. But, it’s Passover, and we certainly need a little bit of fun, now. So here’s a replay:

The 1956 blockbuster, “The Ten Commandments” is aired annually. In his 1989 memoir (“Which Reminds Me”), the late actor TONY RANDALL (born Arthur Rosenberg) tells two amusing, if a bit risqué Passover-related stories. The first features OLIVE DEERING, who played Miriam in “The Ten Commandments”. After many weeks of filming the movie in the heat and dust of California's Mojave Desert, Deering loudly said to everyone on the set: "Who do you have to sleep with to get off of this picture?" The second story Randall says is almost certainly not true, but “everyone” in Hollywood told it in the ‘50s. Here goes: (future convert to Judaism) MARILYN MONROE attends her first Seder at the home of playwright ARTHUR MILLER, her future hubbie. She is served matzo ball soup and says, “This is good. What do they do with the other parts of the matzoh?”

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