Judge Judy, Star Trek, Barefoot Contessa and more

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Judy Sheindlin of “Judge Judy” at the Daytime Emmy Awards in 2019, where she received the Lifetime Achievement Award. (Gregg DeGuire/ Getty Images)

Nate Bloom, Special to the Jewish Light

JUDY SHEINDLIN, 78, better known as “Judge Judy,” was one of the highest paid people on broadcast TV (over $1 million per episode). But she had a falling out with CBS and her new program, “Judy Justice,” which began on Nov. 1, will only be streamed. Daily episodes will stream on IMDB TV, a free app (with ads) that you can download or add to your Roku, Apple TV or Amazon Fire app “line-up.”

Judge Judy’s new law clerk is SARAH ROSE, her granddaughter. Rose, who is about 25, is now in law school. Judge Judy had a son and daughter with her first husband, a Jewish lawyer. Her second husband, the late Judge JERRY SHEINDLIN, had three children by his first marriage and Judge Judy helped to raise them.

On Nov. 5, The History Channel premieres a 10-part docuseries called “The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek.”  It’s directed by BRIAN VOLK-WEISS, 45, the director/producer of “The Movies That Made Us,” a hit Netflix series. Each episode focuses on different “chapters” of the Trek franchise: live-action TV series, animated series and films.

Many people associated with Trek were interviewed for the docuseries, including actor WALTER KOENIG, 85 (‘Chekov’ in the original Trek series), actor BRENT SPINER, 72 (‘Data’ on Star Trek: The Next Generation”), NICHOLAS MEYER, 75 (who directed “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” and co-wrote “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”) and RICK BERMAN, 75, the head producer of five Trek TV series– beginning with “Next Gen” and ending with “Star Trek Enterprise.”)

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Leonard Nimoy and WIlliam Shatner on ‘Star Trek.’ (Kipp Teague/Flickr)

I hope “Center Seat” sheds light on what I think of as the Trek “miracle”: three out of the seven leads in the original “Trek” were Jewish. (Koenig; the late LEONARD NIMOY as Mr. Spock; and WILLIAM SHATNER, now 90, as Capt. Kirk.) My educated guess: “Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry had a small show budget and he followed the example of ROD SERLING, the creator of “The Twilight Zone,” who hired low-salary, but very talented character actors and cast them in lead roles. For a variety of reasons, Jewish actors were/are much more likely to be first-class character actors than leads. 

Shatner didn’t have much of track record as a leading man. But he did guest star on two memorable “Twilight Zone” episodes. Nimoy was a guest actor on other shows Roddenberry had worked on and he knew Nimoy was talented. As for Koenig—well, he could do a really authentic Russian accent because his parents were Russian-speaking Jewish immigrants.

Jewish superstar chef INA GARTEN, 71, began hosting a new season of her hit cooking show, “The Barefoot Contessa,” on Oct. 31. Two weeks ago, Garten announced a “big deal” with the Discovery+ channel. “The Barefoot Contessa” program will continue on the Food Network, but next year she’ll launch a new program called “Be My Guest.” An hour-long version will stream on Discovery+, with a half hour version on the Food Network.

“Finch” is a new film that was set to be in theaters in 2020, but the pandemic intervened. It now premieres on Apple+ on Nov. 5.

The premise is that the Earth was turned into a wasteland by a solar event. Tom Hanks plays Finch, a robotics engineer and one of the few survivors. His companion is a beloved dog. Things get dicey when Finch learns he is dying. He creates a robot and trains it to be “so human” that it will be able to take over the care of his dog. The director is MIGUEL SAPOCHNIK, 47, a British Jew whose parents were Argentine immigrants. Sapochnik is best known as the Emmy-winning director of the spectacular, big-battle “Game of Thrones” episodes (“Battle of the Bastards” and others).

“The Shrink Next Door” is an eight-episode limited series that will begin streaming on Apple+ on Nov. 12. It is based on a hit 2019 podcast of the same name.

In the early ’80s, MARTY MARKOWITZ, now 79, was referred to DR. ISAAC HERSCHKOPF, a psychiatrist. Markowitz (played by PAUL RUDD, 52) was a wealthy man who suffered from depression. For about 30 years, Herschkoff (played by Will Ferrell) controlled Markowitz’s life and finances. He went so far as to take over Markowitz’s palatial home and he moved Markowitz into a guest house. Spoiler (good guys win): Markowitz finally regained control of his life. Other patients who had been taken advantage of came forward after the podcast aired and Herschkoff lost his license last April.