Eric André plays a megachurch pastor in the new season "The Righteous Gemstones." (Photo/Ryan Green-HBO)
Eric André plays a megachurch pastor in the new season "The Righteous Gemstones." (Photo/Ryan Green-HBO)

Eric André joins ‘Righteous Gemstones’; Judge Judy gets generous; etc.

Brown’s ponytail is gone

While fans are set to watch figure skater Jason Brown do another stunning routine in next month’s Winter Olympics in Beijing, there will be one adjustment they’ll have to get used to: Brown’s ponytail is gone. The athlete’s hairdo was so famous it even had a parody Twitter account, but Brown, who was an alternate at the last Winter Games and won a team bronze in 2014, is doing this Olympics without it. He said he was nervous when he cut it, in case the magic was gone. But everything was fine. “I went straight to the rink,” he told NBC. “I tried all my jumps and I could land everything, I was at ease.”

Jews on screen

Meanwhile, some TV news. In the new season of HBO’s “The Righteous Gemstones,” comedian Eric André plays a celebrity megachurch preacher who hosts mammoth, rock concert-like services. How accurate is it? “I’m an atheist Jew, so I’m not the one to ask,” he told Vulture. But his over-the-top antics are true to form. “Bad Trip,” his hidden camera prank movie, is on Vulture’s “best of 2021” movie list.

Not filming yet but in the works is a new show, co-written by Emily Goldwyn, great-granddaughter of motion picture mogul Samuel Goldwyn (born Szmuel Gelbfisz in Warsaw). “Bad Habit,” still uncast, is a comedy about nuns who pivot to cannabis in order to keep their convent from bankruptcy.

And Cuban American actor and heartthrob William Levy has been cast in a new adaptation of “The Count of Monte Cristo.” Called simply “Montecristo,” Levy plays a modern version of the titular hero, “a mysterious figure driven in his pursuit of justice and vengeance” but one who also happens to be a startup founder. Levy is also known for his smoldering turn in the Colombian series “Café con aroma de mujer.”

Finally, in film: The Hollywood Reporter is calling “Sublet,” directed by Israeli icon Eytan Fox and starring Niv Nissim, an “underseen gem.” The website put the film, about a queer, cross-generational, emotional awakening set in Tel Aviv, on a year-end list of underappreciated movies.

Judge Judy is generous

Judy Sheindlin, otherwise known as Judge Judy, has made a hefty donation to the law school she attended. Sheindlin gave New York Law School $5 million to fund full tuition and books for 10 women every year. Her own granddaughter, Sara Rose Levy, is currently a student there. Both women appear in Sheindlin’s new show, “Judy Justice,” streaming on IMDb TV.

An ongoing fight

David Baddiel, English comedian and author of the 2021 book “Jews Don’t Count,” has waded into the conversation around whether non-Jewish actors should portray Jews on film. In a newspaper opinion piece,  he argues that casting actors who are of the ethnicity of the character has been a trend that has largely ignored Jews. “Minority experience should be expressed by those who truly know it, rather than caricatured by those who don’t,” he writes. “It would be an interesting conclusion, given 2,000 years of persecution, that the representation of Jewish identity doesn’t deserve this complexity.”

Maya Mirsky
Maya Mirsky

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