Jessie Mei Li stars in Netflix's "Shadow and Bone," based on a book series by Israeli-American writer Leigh Bardugo.
Jessie Mei Li stars in Netflix's "Shadow and Bone," based on a book series by Israeli-American writer Leigh Bardugo.

‘Shadow and Bone’ is Jewish; Rogen is done with Franco; Ethiopian Jew is going to Eurovision; etc.

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Bardugo’s witches a Netflix hit

It’s been a wild ride for young adult and fantasy author Leigh Bardugo. The 46-year-old Israeli American has seen her fantasy novels, which portray an alternative Europe in which witches from a country very much like Russia pose a threat to a delicate political balance, turned into a Netflix series called “Shadow and Bone,” now being called an unqualified hit.

It’s all the more poignant for Bardugo, she told Variety, because she wrote the books during a dark time. “I had reached this point in my life where I thought, ‘Well, I guess this is it. My tombstone will read ‘had potential,’” she said, adding that she “felt incredibly grateful because this was a journey that’s been 10 years in the making.”


Bialik is the cat’s meow

Mayim Bialik, 45, is probably purring. Her show, “Call me Kat,” has been renewed for a second season and ratings company Nielsen said it has tied for No. 1 new comedy.

The series, an adaptation of long-running hit BBC sitcom “Miranda,” stars Bialik as a woman who spends her life savings to open a cat café in Kentucky in an effort to prove she can live a happy and fulfilling life, despite being single at 39.


Rogen won’t work with Franco

Seth Rogen is getting plaudits for a statement he recently made about James Franco, a frequent collaborator. In an interview with the London-based Times, ostensibly about his new memoir, “Yearbook,” he tackled the subject of Franco, who’s been accused of multiple instances of sexual misconduct.

Seth Rogen at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, Feb. 29, 2020 in New York City. (Photo/JTA-Roy Rochlin-Getty Images)
Seth Rogen at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, Feb. 29, 2020 in New York City. (Photo/JTA-Roy Rochlin-Getty Images)

When asked if the change in his relationship with Franco is “painful,” Rogen replied, “Yeah. But not as painful and difficult as it is for a lot of other people involved. I have no pity for myself in this situation.”


Israel’s Alene heads to Eurovision

Eden Alene, 21, whom we wrote about last year, is off to the Eurovision song contest, representing Israel. She won the right to do that after winning a 2020 qualifying competition, but then faced a tense wait when the pandemic forced the show to go on hold. Now it’ll be held live in the Netherlands for five days starting May 18. Born to Ethiopian Jewish parents who immigrated to Israel in the 1980s, she grew up in Jerusalem.

“I feel proud of myself as an Ethiopian,” Alene, who turned 21 last week, told the Forward in a recent interview.


’80s glamour actress dies

Tawny Kitaen, the actress known for heating up Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” and other 1980s heavy metal videos, is dead at 59. In 1984, she co-starred in an early Tom Hanks comedy, “Bachelor Party,” and worked with bands Ratt and Whitesnake (she was married to lead singer David Coverdale). She struggled with drug abuse and in 2008 was on the second season of “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew,” but always loved to recount her adventures in her hair-band heyday, according to her New York Times obituary.

Maya Mirsky
Maya Mirsky

Maya Mirsky is a J. Staff Writer based in Oakland.