Alison Brie
Alison Brie

Brie and Franco wed; Gyllenhaal comes to ‘Life’; Arkin goes ‘In Style’

Sign up for Weekday J and get the latest on what's happening in the Jewish Bay Area.

At the movies

“Life,” a big-budget sci-fi thriller that opened last week, follows a crew aboard the International Space Station who capture a space probe with a sample inside that contains alien life. Without spoiling the surprises, I’ll just say this alien creature presents big difficulties for the crew. Jake Gyllenhaal, 36, stars as Dr. David Jordan.’

“Life” screenwriters Paul Wernick, 48, and Rhett Reese are on a hot streak. Their first film, “Zombieland” (2009), which they co-wrote, was a clever satire about a zombie apocalypse. The flick somehow managed to be funny and exciting at the same time. (It starred Jesse Eisenberg, now 33, and a then-almost unknown Emma Stone). Their second film, “Deadpool” (2016), echoed “Zombieland” in that it was also funny and exciting. Sequels for these movies are in the works. Nice to note: Wernick’s father recently celebrated his second bar mitzvah.

“The Ghost in the Shell” is an action-adventure based on a Japanese comic book and film. It follows Major (Scarlett Johansson, 32), a special-ops, one-of-a-kind human-cyborg hybrid who leads an elite task force devoted to stopping the most dangerous criminals.

The fact that the lead character is female seems to have helped persuade Johansson to take the role. She told Marie Claire magazine: “Having a franchise with a female protagonist driving it is such a rare opportunity … Certainly, I feel the enormous pressure of that — the weight of such a big property on my shoulders.” It opens March 31.

“Going in Style” is a remake of a 1979 action-comedy film of the same name that starred George Burns, Lee Strasberg and Art Carney as three nice senior citizens who decide to rob a bank and do it. The new version stars Alan Arkin, 82, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman. Joey King, 17, co-stars as Caine’s smart granddaughter. It’s directed by Zach Braff, 41, and it has been made known that this version has a happy ending (no jail like in the original). It opens April 7.

Brie and Franco: Not Parisian cheese

People magazine reported that Alison Brie, 34 (“Community”), and Dave Franco, 31 (“Neighbors”), got married in a secret ceremony around March 12. No details were released about the nuptials and whether they had a Jewish wedding. Both actors have described themselves as Jewish and both have Jewish mothers. The couple dated three years before getting engaged in 2015.

Dave and his brother, actor James Franco, 38, were raised in Palo Alto. James had an intimate bar mitzvah in 2015 with a rabbi officiating. It was followed by a celebration at the Hollywood Palladium that 4,000 attended. Seth Rogen, 34, and many others did comic shtick and Miley Cyrus sang. Tickets sales raised over $2 million for a foundation that helps those suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Home viewing notes

“Superior Donuts,” a CBS sitcom starring Judd Hirsch, 82, is plunging in the ratings and a second season is doubtful. The cast is talented, but the humor is stale. Hirsch’s character was identified as Jewish in the first episode and I believe that he is the first actor to have a starring role as a Jewish character in three TV series (the other two are “Taxi” and “Num3brs”).

“Imaginary Mary” is an ABC sitcom that had a special sneak premiere last week (it can be viewed on Its second episode will air on Tuesday, April 4, at 9:30 p.m. (its regular time). The show stars Jenna Elfman as Alice, a single public relations executive who falls in love with Ben (Stephen Schneider, 36), the single father of three kids. The twist is that Alice’s imaginary childhood friend, Mary, returns to her life to guide Alice in the new relationship. Rachel Dratch, 51, voices Mary.

You’ll probably recognize Schneider from TV guest shots. The same can be said about his wife, actress Jenn Proske, 29. She converted to Judaism before the couple wed in 2013. Their 2-year-old daughter attends a Jewish preschool.

Nate Bloom

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