Celebrity Jews

New TV season, new Hebrews

Several TV shows that premiered this month feature a Jewish thespian in a key role.

Pamela Adlon

“Better Things,” an FX cable show, began on Sept. 8. It was created by and stars Pamela Adlon, 50, a frequent collaborator with Louis C.K., who has a supporting role in the series. Adlon voiced the character Bobby on “King of the Hill,” played C.K.’s wife on “Lucky Louie”; and had a role in “Californication” as the wife of David Duchovny’s best friend. In “Better Things” Adlon plays an actress who is raising three daughters alone, just like in her real life.

The first season of Amazon’s “One Mississippi” stars lesbian comedian and Mississippi native Tig Notaro as a lesbian from Mississippi who returns home following the unexpected death of her mother. John Rothman, 67, one of those character actors with a recognizable face, plays her stepfather. The Los Angeles Times said Rothman “is the marvel of ‘One Mississippi,’ taking a role too often used strictly for humor and exposition and turning it into a beautiful portrait of a man who has just lost his emotional translator.” Also on Amazon is “Fleabag,” a BBC import about the complex life of a young woman. American comedian Brett Gelman, 39, has a large supporting role.

Woody Allen

In the ABC series “Designated Survivor,” which premiered on Sept. 21, an explosion kills the president and all of the Cabinet members except Kiefer Sutherland’s character, the Housing and Urban Development secretary. He becomes president and quickly learns about more horrible surprises that are coming. Ashley Zuckerman, 32, an Australian Jewish actor who starred in the WGN series “Manhattan,” has a recurring role as a congressman who was a war hero.

“Crisis in Six Scenes,” an Amazon series set for release on Sept. 30, marks the first time that Woody Allen, 81, has created and directed a TV series. The listed cast includes Allen (apparently starring), Elaine May, 84, and Michael Rapaport, 46.

At the movies

Kevin Pollak

It was hard not to be charmed by Jerry Lewis, who turned 90 in March, when he appeared recently on a few TV shows to promote the film “Max Rose.” While Lewis cannot walk anymore, mentally he is completely there. I was truly touched as he poignantly discussed his bromance with Dean Martin and why he raised more than $1 billion for charity. Scenes in “Max Rose” between Lewis and San Francisco native Kevin Pollak, 58, who plays Max’s son, have been singled out as the film’s best. The review in this paper said Lewis gives “a spare, generous performance that brims with kindness and appreciation for other people’s burdens and loneliness” (tinyurl.com/max-rose-jweekly). Max is a jazz musician haunted by the recent discovery that his wife (Claire Bloom, 85) may have long been unfaithful. Comedian Mort Sahl, 89, who has lived in Mill Valley since 2008, has a supporting role. The film opened last week.

Here’s the basic plot of the 3-D animated film “Storks,” according to official materials: A high-tech internet giant has been using storks to deliver packages. A stork known as Junior (voiced by Berkeley native Andy Samberg, 30) is up for a big promotion when he accidentally activates the company’s “Baby Making Machine,” which kicks out an adorable but unauthorized baby. Junior enlists a human friend to deliver the baby girl before his boss finds out about it. Gradually, we realize that this baby drop may result in restoring the storks to their true mission in the world. “Storks” was directed and written by Nicholas Stoller, 40, who co-wrote the two most recent “Muppets” movies. It opens on Friday, Sept. 23.

Nate Bloom

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