Segal, Leibowitz, and Sex and the City Return; Sherwin

The Friend”, a “tearjerker” dramatic film, with a little humor, was made in 2019 and screened at the 2020 Toronto Film Festival just before Covid-19 hit. It opens in a few theaters on Jan. 22 and is also available that day on video-on-demand. It is based on a 2015 Esquire article in which Matthew Teague detailed the death of his wife, Nicole, from ovarian cancer. The couple’s best friend, Dane, upended his life and stayed with them for months, assisting with everything, including helping with their two young daughters. JASON SEGAL, 40, plays Dane. Its Segal’s first major film role in four years. Casey Affleck plays Matthew, with Dakota Johnson as Nicole. Major critics were divided about the film, but all praised Segal’s performance. “Vanity Fair” thought it flawed, but mostly hit the right notes. “Variety” thought it failed, in part, because it omitted too many of the gritty details that made Teague’s article so moving and honest.

In 1978, FRAN LEIBOWITZ, now 70, came out of almost nowhere with “Metropolitan Life”, a collection of stories featuring acerbic, but often brilliant and very funny observations about contemporary life. It was a smash, as was “Social Studies (1982), a similar collection of stories. Leibowitz was in demand as a paid speaker and talk show guest for most of the 1980s. Most people, I think, assumed she came from an intellectual family and probably had an Ivy League degree. In reality, her father ran a New Jersey furniture store. She was a bad student and a high school drop-out (she did get a G.E.D.)  She worked menial jobs until magazines started buying her stories, some of which were in a first book.  Her Cinderella story faded as Leibowitz wrote virtually nothing after 1982, blaming a writer’s block. Then, in 2010, Martin Scorsese brought her back into the public eye with “Public Speaking”, an HBO documentary mostly about her entertaining speaking appearances. Ten years later, and Scorsese is again showcasing Leibowitz. With little advance notice, a 6-part documentary series about Leibowitz, called “Pretend It’s a City”, was released on Netflix on Jan. 8. Scorcese pretty much points the camera at Leibowitz and she opines, in her trademark funny/snarky way, about New York City, the pandemic, and many other things. Reviews have been mixed. Six, 30-minute episodes, I agree, is too much Leibowitz. But give it a chance. The second episode, the last one I have watched, dials down the snark in favor of interesting autobiographical anecdotes.

On Jan. 9, it was officially confirmed that a re-boot of “Sex and the City” will begin filming this spring. It will run on HBO Max. Three out of the four leads will return: SARAH JESSICA PARKER, now 55, as Carrie, Cynthia Nixon as Miranda, and Kristen Davis, as Charlotte (Charlotte converted to Judaism and wed Harry, a Jewish guy played by EVAN HANDLER, now 60. It’s likely, but not confirmed that Handler will be in the re-boot). Kim Cattrall, who played Samantha, has long said that she wouldn’t appear in another sequel or re-boot. Few details about the re-boot were released, just a vague press release about the ladies “navigating the realties of life and friendship in their ‘50s”.

A reader question prompted this item: I checked, and the interim D.C. United States attorney, MICHAEL SHERWIN, 49, is Jewish. He’s been in the news since he recently announced that he is investigating everyone, including the former President and Donald, Jr.  Sherwin, a career Justice Dept. prosecutor, has an apolitical/straight-arrow reputation, but he was hand-picked for his job by William Barr and he had a role in some controversial moves in the Michael Flynn case. So don’t expect the Biden administration to keep him in his job for long. (Actually, even without controversy-- when one party replaces another in the Presidency, they very rarely retain the top attorney in federal districts).

Sherwin, whose middle name is Rafi, grew-up in the Cleveland area. He and his brother, DANIEL ARI SHERWIN, now 51, were both top weightlifters at Ohio State. Michael won a national collegiate title in 1992 and Daniel was a 4-time state champ. While in college, they went to Israel and coached young Israelis hoping to go to the Olympics. Both brothers became attorneys after college and Michael served from 1999-2004 in US Navy intelligence. He was decorated for his service in Iraq. In 1999, Michael married SHANI SOLOMON, now 48, who is also a Cleveland-area native.

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