Almost immortal Asner, Menzel, Celeb “Wheel,” Whale and Bellow

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American actor Ed Asner as newspaper editor Lou Grant in the US TV show ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’, circa 1975. (Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

By Nate Bloom , Special to the Jewish Light

The animated film “Diary of a Whimpy Kid: Roderick Rules” began streaming on Dec. 2.  ED ASNER, who died in 2021 at age 91, has a starring (voice) role. Asner, a Kansas City native, loved to work and at the time of his death he had completed 10 TV shows and movies that hadn’t (yet) been released. Six Asner projects (two voice and four “live”) remain to be released.

The most exciting is “Deadly Draw” in which he co-stars as “Max Perlmutter” (got to be Jewish!) a participant in a very dangerous card game. By the way, Asner holds the record for the most Primetime Emmys won (7) by any actor. He could be the first actor to win an Emmy two years or more after his death.

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On Dec. 9, Disney+ began streaming a documentary about singer/actress IDINA MENZEL, 51. Entitled, “Which Way to the Stage,” the film will cover her life and career. It will end with her headlining a Madison Square Garden concert.

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Menzel’s first big break came as a star of the hit stage musical “Rent” (1996). She became nationally well known as a star of the musical “Wicked” (2003). Worldwide fame followed as she provided the voice of Elsa in the mega-hit “Frozen” series of animated flicks.

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“The Whale,” which opens in St. Louis later this month, stars Brendan Fraser as Charlie, a man who tries to make contact with his estranged daughter because he fears that he will die soon. Charlie left his family for another man. The man died and Charlie, guilty about his death, responded by becoming morbidly obese. Advance reviews are mostly positive, but this film is clearly not for everyone.

The film was directed by DARREN ARONOFSKY, 53. None of his films are “easy” watches (his hits include “The Wrestler” and “Black Swan”).

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Nobel Prize winner SAUL BELLOW (1915-2005) is the subject of a new American Masters documentary profile on PBS. It’s entitled “The Adventures of Saul Bellow” and it premiered at 8 p.m. Dec. 12 (it will also be on the PBS app, free, for at least a month after first airing). Many prominent writers, including Salman Rushdie and the late PHILIP ROTH, were interviewed for the documentary.

The American Masters site notes the film will “explore Saul Bellow’s impact on American literature and how he navigated through issues of his time, including race, gender and the Jewish immigrant experience…It also sheds light on his willingness to confront social issues, his criticisms of American society and materialism and his provocative political view.”

Bellow had as much energy as Ed Asner. He kept on writing and teaching almost until the day of his death. He had energy in another way: He was married five times. Four wives were Jewish. One was the daughter of Jews from Georgia, the former Soviet republic.

All his marriages, save his last, ended in divorce. He had four children, all with Jewish wives, including his youngest child (a daughter) when Bellow was 84 years old.