Mrs. Maisel returns, Law and Order reboot and more Jewish celebrity news


Alex Borstein (left) and Rachel Brosnahan in ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.’  Photo: Amazon Prime

NATE BLOOM, Special to the Jewish Light

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” the hit Amazon Prime series about a Jewish comedian, finally returns for a fourth, eight-episode season on Feb. 18 after the pandemic long delayed filming. New episodes of “Maisel” were last released in Dec. 2019.  Two episodes will, as they say, be “dropped” on Feb. 18 and each following Friday, two more episodes will be released.

Most of the “Maisel” main characters are supposed to be Jewish. Here, first, are the Jewish actors playing Jews: MICHAEL ZEGEN, 42 (Joel, Mrs. Maisel’s ex-husband); KEVIN POLLAK, 64 (Joel’s father); CAROLINE AARON, 64 (Joel’s mother); and ALEX BORSTEIN, 50 (Susie Myerson, Mrs. Maisel’s manager).

I long wondered if Myerson is supposed to be Jewish. Then Borstein confirmed that Myerson was Jewish in a 2019 interview — noting that Myerson, unlike the other Jewish characters, comes from a working-class background.

Here are the non-Jews playing Jews: Rachel Brosnahan, who plays Mrs. Midge Maisel (the title character); Marin Hinkle, who plays Midge’s mother; and Tony Shalhoub, who plays Midge’s father. Also worth noting: Real life ’60s comedian LENNY BRUCE, who had a big recurring role in Seasons 1-2, will have a big role in Season 4. Luke Kirby, who plays Bruce, isn’t Jewish.

Reports say the comedic material that Mrs. Maisel uses on-stage will get more explicit and “hip” as the series timeframe moves further into the “culture-changing” 1960s.

“Lincoln’s Dilemma” is a four-part documentary that will be released in its entirety on Apple+ on Feb. 18. It follows Lincoln’s complex journey to end slavery and his evolving views about the status of African Americans. The story is told by a panel of distinguished historians, educators and journalists. Emmy-nominated actors Bill Camp and Jeffrey Wright provide the voices of Frederick Douglass and Lincoln, respectively.

The documentary was directed by BARAK GOODMAN, 57. Over the last 30 years, he has directed and/or produced 34 documentaries, and has won two Emmys. Many of his films first aired on the PBS series “The American Experience.” His wife, RACHEL DRETZIN, 55, has also produced and/or directed many documentaries, including 14 PBS “Frontline” documentaries.

Her mother is JOANNA MERLIN, 90, a busy character actress. She is the last living “credited” actor or actress in “The Ten Commandments” (1956). You might know her from 43 appearances on “Law and Order: SVU” as Judge Lena Petrovsky.

The original “Law and Order” series ran from 1990-2010 and spanned several “spin-offs,” including “Law and Order; SVU.” A re-boot of the original series is set to premiere on NBC on Feb. 24 (7 p.m.). Sam Waterston is returning as Jack McCoy, Manhattan’s (head) District Attorney. He played that role for the last three seasons of the original. Before his promotion, McCoy was the top assistant district attorney for 12 seasons.

Fans will recall that McCoy worked, for five seasons, under Adam Schiff, the (Jewish) Manhattan District Attorney. Schiff was played by the late STEVEN HILL, an Orthodox Jew. The beautifully acted and well-written interplay between Schiff and McCoy was one of the highlights of the original series.

In the reboot, the top assistant D.A.s are played by Hugh Dancy and ODELYA HALEVI, 30ish. Halevi was born and raised in Israel, the grandchild of Yemeni Jewish immigrants. After a year of military service, she moved to the United States at age 19. She’s had many small roles. Her “Law and Order” reboot role is a huge career break.

CAMRYN MANHEIM, 60, a veteran well-known TV actress (“The Practice,” “Ghost Whisperer”), has snared a plum role as the detective in charge of the whole police squad room.

“Kimi,” an original HBO film, began streaming on Feb. 10. ZOE KRAVITZ, 33, stars as Angela, an agoraphobic tech worker who works at home during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. She discovers evidence of a violent crime while reviewing a data stream, but her discovery is ignored by her company. She realizes she may have to go outside to contact people who will take her seriously. (Next month, look for Kravitz as Catwoman in the new Batman movie series re-boot, entitled “The Batman.”)

“Uncharted” opened in theaters on Feb. 11. Tom Holland (the newest Spiderman) and Mark Wahlberg co-star as partners who fend off bad guys as they go after a long-sunken Spanish treasure ship. 

The film was directed by RUBEN FLEISCHER, 47. He directed the two “Zombieland” films, which were critical and box-office smashes.