Celebrity jews

TV premieres

Judd Hirsch

The following TV shows, which premiere from Sept. 21 to 30, each have a Jewish cast member. Starts Sept. 21: “Madam Secretary” stars Tea Leoni as a former CIA agent who unexpectedly is named secretary of state. Bebe Neuwirth, 55, co-stars as the secretary’s chief of staff (CBS, 8 p.m.). Starts Sept. 22: “Forever” is a supernatural drama starring Ioan Gruffudd as Harry, a medical examiner who can’t die. Judd Hirsch, 79, plays Abe, an antique-store owner and ladies’ man who is Harry’s best friend and confidant. He urges Harry to enjoy life, including romance (ABC, 10 p.m.). Starting the same night, at 8 p.m. on Fox, is the highly touted “Gotham,” a “Batman” spin-off of sorts. Benjamin McKenzie plays Detective Gordon before he becomes Gotham’s police commissioner. His first big case is investigating the murder of the parents of the young Bruce Wayne, played by David Mazouz, 13, from Los Angeles. Also starting on Sept. 22 (CBS, 9 p.m.) is “Scorpion.” The plot: A bunch of tech nerds gets together to solve the world’s most difficult problems. Eddie Kaye Thomas, 33 (Finch in “American Pie”), plays Toby, a team member.


Debra Messing

Starting on Wednesday, Sept. 24, are “Mysteries of Laura” (NBC, 8 p.m.) and “Black-ish” (ABC, 8 p.m.). “Mysteries” stars Debra Messing, 46, (“Will and Grace”) as a brilliant police detective who tries to balance career and single motherhood. “Black-ish” explores one suburban black father’s efforts (first name Dre) to establish a cultural identity for his four kids. His biracial wife, Rainbow, is played by Tracee Ellis Ross, 41. She’s the daughter of famous singer Diana Ross and Ross’ ex-husband, Robert Ellis Silberstein, 67. Dre and Rainbow’s four children include Andre, who really wants a bar mitzvah despite the fact the family isn’t Jewish. By the way, when ABC was previewing this show for the media, a reporter stood up and told the head of ABC programming, “I think ‘Black-ish’ will mention a bar mitzvah before ‘The Goldbergs’ [on ABC] does.” The programmer’s (Paul Lee) reply implicitly acknowledged that “The Goldbergs” had gone a full season without using the word “Jewish.” Said Lee: “I don’t think there’s anybody in the country that watches ‘Goldbergs’ and doesn’t think it’s about a Jewish family. We have so much support and respect for Adam [Goldberg, the show’s creator] … When he’s ready to tell that story, he’ll tell that story …” Starting Sept. 25 (ABC, 10 p.m.) is “How to Get Away with Murder,” which centers on a law school professor, her associates and her students getting caught up in a murder case. Playing one associate is Liza Weil, 37 (Paris Geller on “The Gilmore Girls”).


Digging through the ‘news’

Gwyneth Paltrow

The death of Joan Rivers led People magazine to run an online article (Sept. 6) worth checking out: It’s about her surprising friendship with Prince Charles. They hit it off at a dinner party in 2003 and she was a guest at his 2005 wedding to Camilla, and he expressed his condolences after her death … The New York Post’s gossip column reported that Gwyneth Paltrow, 41, was “converting to Judaism.” There was no named source for this “bombshell,” but as happens at least twice a year, an almost certainly made-up story of “celeb turns Jewish” was reprinted widely. Consider this: What is she converting to? One would think Reform Judaism, not Conservative or Orthodox. There is almost certainly no need for Paltrow to formally convert under Reform Jewish guidelines: Her father was Jewish and the main religion in the Paltrow’s childhood home was Judaism — her brother, her only sibling, had a bar mitzvah.

Columnist Nate Bloom, an Oaklander, can be reached at [email protected].


Nate Bloom

Nate Bloom writes the "Celebrity Jews" column for J.