Teen hijinks in ‘Booksmart,’ a Catch-22 remake and more

Beanie Feldstein (left) and Kaitlyn Dever star in the new teen comedy ‘Booksmart.’ Photo: FRANCOIS DUHAMEL/ANNAPURNA PICTURES

By Nate Bloom, Special to the Jewish Light

At the movies 

Teen comedy “Booksmart,” which opens May 24, centers on Amy (BEANIE FELDSTEIN, 25) and Molly (Kaitlyn Dever), best friends and high school seniors who decide to break-out of their bookish rut by going to a wild graduation party. But they don’t know where it is. So they accidentally go, first, to a party on a yacht hosted by a rich classmate (SKYLER GISONDO, 22) and then to another classmate’s (NOAH GALVIN, 24) “wrong party” before they finally make it to the right one. LISA KUDROW, 55, has a supporting role as Amy’s mom.

Also opening on the 24th is “Aladdin,” a live-action re-make of the 1992 Disney animated film of the same name. Canadian actor Mena Massoud, an Egyptian Coptic Christian (like Rami Malek), plays Aladdin and Will Smith plays the Genie. The score (music other than the songs) was written by ALAN MENKEN, 69. He also wrote the score for the 1992 film and co-wrote the original version songs with the late HOWARD ASHMAN and Tim Rice. Menken wrote two new songs for the re-make with the Oscar-winning (“La La Land”) team of BENJ PASEK, 33, and Justin Paul.

Streaming/TV: Catching up

 “Catch-22,” an original Hulu six-episode miniseries, began streaming, in its entirety, on May 17. Of course, it is based on the famous satirical novel (1961) of the same name by JOSEPH HELLER (1923-1999). The novel was inspired by Heller’s own experience in World War II. He enlisted at age 19 and flew 60 combat missions on a B-25 as the plane’s bombardier (i.e., bomb dropper). His novel (and the series) centers on Yossarian, a bombardier, whose big problem is that the number of missions he has to fly until he comes home keeps growing. There’s a lot of other nasty or absurd misigosh going on and the novel’s description of it caught the wave of the anti-establishment sentiment of the 1960s, which made the novel a cult classic. Will it play as well, today? We’ll see.


The series was co-produced by George Clooney, who directed two episodes and has a co-starring role. GRANT HESLOV, 55, an actor who has been Clooney’s producing partner for decades, co-produced the series, and also directed two episodes. Heslov has a big supporting role as Doc Daneeka, the character who explains what “Catch-22” means. The large cast includes British Jewish actor RAFI GAVRON, 29, as Aarfy Aardvark and JON RUDNITSKY, 29, as McWatt. Rudnitsky’s uncle, MICHAEL OREN, 63, is the former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.

“Blood and Treasure,” a new CBS series, premiered on May 21 with a two-hour pilot. You can easily catch-up on-line or on-demand. New episodes air Tuesdays at 9 p.m.  Matt Barr and Sofia Pernas, star as, respectively, a brilliant antiquities expert and a cunning art thief who team up to catch a ruthless terrorist who funds his attacks through stolen treasure. 

Israeli actor ODED FEHR, 48, who is best known for co-starring in the hit movie “The Mummy” (1999) as well as the Showtime series “Sleeper Cell,” has a co-starring role as the terrorist, Karim Farouk. Appearing in a recurring role (“Roarke”) is Canadian-American actress ANNA SILK, 45. She was born in Newfoundland, where her mother is a prominent actress and theater director. She moved to Toronto in 1999, where she worked steadily in Canadian TV shows. When she re-located to Los Angles in 2007, she met her future-husband, SCOTT COOPERMAN. They wed in a civil service in 2009 before having a Jewish ceremony in 2011, after Silk converted to Judaism. They now have two young sons, SAMUEL and LEVI. “Blood” is her first big American TV role.