Celebrity Jews

At the movies

Opening Oct. 16 is “Bridge of Spies,” based on the true events leading up to the 1962 exchange of convicted Soviet spy Rudolf Abel for American spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers, who was shot down in 1960. It stars Tom Hanks as an American lawyer who represented Abel and, later, aided the Cold War swap. Directed by Steven Spielberg, 68, “Bridge” is the third Spielberg film starring Hanks, his old friend. Ethan and Joel Coen co-wrote the script.

R.L. Stine

“Goosebumps,” also opening Oct. 16, is an interesting comedic take on the best-selling scary children’s book series by R.L. Stine, 71. The movie begins with teen Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) upset about moving to a small town. The silver lining is next-door neighbor Hannah Stine (Odeya Rush, 18), a beautiful teenage girl and the daughter of the famous author (Jack Black, 46). The action takes off when Stine reveals that the creatures in his stories are real and that he protects his readers by keeping them locked in his books. Well, of course, the creatures get out and Zach, Hannah and everybody else have a wild night trying to get them back into the books. This is Rush’s second feature-film lead and may be her breakthrough role. She was born in Israel and moved to the States in 2010 when her father took a security job. She lives in Los Angeles with her parents and four younger brothers (two sets of twins). Her two older brothers live in Israel.

On Hulu and Amazon

Michaela Watkins

The 10-episode original Hulu series “Casual” premiered Oct. 7 with the release of the first two episodes. Produced and directed by Jason Reitman, 38 (“Juno”), it stars Michaela Watkins, 43, as Valerie, a therapist with a teen daughter whose husband recently left her. The reviews for Watkins and the series are stellar. It appears that Watkins, who has done everything from supporting roles in films to a year on “SNL,” now has a career role.

Watkins’ husband, Fred Kramer, 41, is a businessman who took five years off (2008-2013) to serve as executive director of Jewish World Watch, a Los Angeles-based anti-genocide nonprofit. Since 2008, he has been on the board of the IKAR Jewish community and is a past board chair.

Michaela Watkins

“Red Oaks” premiered Oct. 9 on Amazon Prime Instant Video, which released the whole first season at once. It has received good notices. The year is 1985 and most action centers around Red Oaks, a New Jersey country club that is mostly Jewish. Central character David Meyers is a Jewish college student who works at the club. Getty (Paul Reiser, 58) one of the club’s richest guys, takes an interest in David and mentors him, sometimes clashing with David’s father, played by Richard Kind, 58.


Matt Jackson, 23, a Washington, D.C., paralegal, has been generating a lot of buzz with his winning streak on “Jeopardy.” As of Oct. 13, he had won more than $411,000 in 13 straight matches. Even if he isn’t still winning as you read this, look for him during the next “Tournament of Champions.” When host Alex Trebek asked him about his “very different parents,” Jackson replied: “My mother is white, liberal and Jewish, and my dad is black, Christian and conservative.”

Jackson said his biggest influence was his grandfather Barnett Berman, a Johns Hopkins physician who went on a long digression at a Passover seder trying to figure out who wrote the Torah. He added that his grandfather had “a big collection of books. He got a computer, a PC, at a very early stage and taught me to use it.”

The Arizona State football team defeated UCLA in a big upset on Oct. 3. What was more remarkable is that both Division I teams had Jewish starting quarterbacks (Matt Bercovici, 22, Arizona, and Josh Rosen, 18, UCLA). No Jewish sports maven can recall this ever happening before.

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

Nate Bloom

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