Virgin River Gets a Little Jewish, CNN does Comedy and Jerusalem; Hasid to Fashionista, More


The third season of the Netflix original series “Virgin River” began streaming on July 9. It consistently ranks as one of the most popular series on Netflix.  The title refers to a (fictional) rural Oregon town where the series is set. The first season deftly juggled humor with dramatic scenes. The acting was very good. Like many series, the second season faltered as the plot lines got more soap opera-ish.

I tend to binge this series and I haven’t yet binged season 3. I hope “Virgin River’ returns to form as it welcomes its first Jewish cast member — STACEY FARBER, 33.  She has a recurring role as Tara, the granddaughter of Connie, an important recurring character who runs the town’s general store.

Farber grew up in Toronto.  Like many young Canadians, she got her start with a big role on the popular Canadian series “DeGrassi High: The Next Generation”. Last February, another Canadian actress, EMANUELLE CHRIQUI, was reported to have a recurring role this season on “Virgin River”, while also appearing in the new CW series “Superman & Lois” in a recurring role. “Superman & Lois” began last February, is a hit, and was renewed for a second season. Chriqui’s character (Lana Lang) was ‘promoted’ to “main cast” and, I guess, that led Chriqui to drop out of “Virgin River.”

The 8-part original CNN series, “History of the Sitcom”, began last Sunday and new episodes premiere on Sundays at 8 p.m. It features 180 interviews with famous sit-com figures, including the late CARL REINER, NORMAN LEAR, LISA KUDROW, JASON ALEXANDER, MEL BROOKS, JUDD APATOW, DAN LEVY and CHUCK LORRE. Another CNN original series, "Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury", begins on Sunday, July 18 (9 p.m.) This six-part series covers the City’s history from Biblical times until the present. It is narrated by actor Ewan McGregor (McGregor’s ex-wife is Jewish. The couple's four children were raised Jewish).

"My Unorthodox Life", an original Netflix reality show, began streaming on July 14. No doubt, there will be mucho coverage in the Jewish media. The series centers around the personal and professional life of fashion mogul JULIA HAART, 50ish. Haart, the mother of four, left her life in a Hasidic sect to become the head of a major modeling empire. In dress and conduct, she is no longer a typical Hasidic woman. Much of the series focuses on the contrast between the former Hasidic lifestyle of her and her children and their current lifestyles.

The first episode of the 3rd season of “Miracle Workers”, a TBS comedy/drama series, premiered July 13 (encore showings every day on TBS and Hulu+ through the 19th). Each “Miracle Workers” season stands alone. The first season featured two angels, played by DANIEL RADCLIFFE, 31, and Steve Buscemi. It was based on a novel by SIMON RICH, 37. The second season, which is streaming on Hulu+, also starred Buscemi and Radcliffe, but in different roles. It was set during the Dark Ages. The third season finds Radcliffe playing an idealistic small-town preacher who teams up with a wanted outlaw (Buscemi) as they try and lead a wagon train across the country on the Oregon Trail (1844). 

Footnote with a joke at the end: By chance, I met (very briefly) Steve Buscemi in a park in Manhattan. I knew he was a NYC firefighter before becoming an actor, so I was surprised how small he is in “real life". My brother owns a brownstone in Park Slope, a trendy Brooklyn neighborhood. I told my brother’s only tenant, an actor, that I just met Buscemi. He said he knew him and that he lives in “the Slope”.

Not long after, I saw an episode of a short-lived interview series Buscemi did for AOL. During the episode, Buscemi visited La Bagel Delight, a very good “Slope” bagel store with an absurd name. Buscemi went to the bagel store with two other “Slope” residents: PAUL AUSTER, a pretty famous author, and John Turturro (who holds the record for the most Jewish film/TV parts [10] played by a non-Jewish actor).

While in the bagel store, Auster, now 74, said he used a funny La Bagel Delight story in one of his novels. The story, he said, really happened to his wife. His wife asked for a cinnamon raisin bagel, but a word got caught in her mouth, and came out as ‘cinnamon-reagan’. Without missing a beat, the guy behind the counter said, “Sorry, we don’t have any of those. How about a pumpernixon?”

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