Wallace Shawn and Elena Anaya in "Rifkin's Festival," directed by Woody Allen.
Wallace Shawn and Elena Anaya in "Rifkin's Festival," directed by Woody Allen.

Israel’s Olympic skiers; Fran Drescher takes over SAG; Wallace Shawn defends Woody Allen

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Jews hit the slopes

Sibling rivalry can extend pretty far, but what about to the Olympics? Barnabás, 23, and Noa Szőllős, 18, are a brother and sister team both competing in alpine skiing for Team Israel. However, the Austria-raised siblings have never skied in Israel, a country not much known for its winter sports. “I really hope I can make a lot of people proud with this, because I’m extremely proud to represent Israel,” said Noa (the pair’s father is Hungarian Israeli). Israel is sending six athletes to the Winter Games in Beijing, none of whom were born in the country. The games open Feb. 4.

A Southern story

In a talk at L.A.’s Jewish theater company the Braid, Caroline Aaron — who plays Joel’s mother Shirley on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” — opened up about Jewish representation on screen. “I don’t remember seeing anyone on television that was like me or having my experience growing up,” said Aaron, 69. She also spoke about her upbringing as a Sephardi-Mizrahi Jewish girl in Alabama. “It’s important to tell our authentic Jewish stories,” she said.

Fran takes over

Fran Drescher is the new head of the actors’ union SAG-AFTRA, and in an interview with Vanity Fair she discussed her career, her activism and her plans as head of the 160,000-member association. Of her groundbreaking character in the sitcom “The Nanny,” she said execs pushed to make the extravagant character Italian instead of Jewish, but Drescher refused. “If I didn’t have that instinct to challenge authority and keep looking for something that makes more sense to me,” she said, “I’d probably not be alive today.”

Brett signs a deal, local boy does well

In TV news, there’s good news for English actor Brett Goldstein, the Emmy-winning actor on “Ted Lasso” who started out in the writers’ room. He’s signed a deal with Warner Bros. to create new content, including “Shrinking,” a comedy series starring Jason Segel that will stream on Apple TV.

And local boy Morgan Spector, who was raised in Sonoma County, is one of the stars of new period drama “The Gilded Age,” by “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes. The show revolves around class, money and power, with Spector playing an outsider with cash but no pedigree. He told W Magazine that the way the show looks at the microcosm of New York society in the 19th century is fascinating. “That’s the spirit of the show — what are these weirdos doing with their kajillions of dollars?” he said.

Defending Woody Allen

Actor and playwright Wallace Shawn spoke to JTA about the painful conversations he’s had both about his recent film with Woody Allen and about Israel (which he called out in a recent article in the Nation as “exhibiting a heartlessness that is equal to that of many of the worst governments on earth”). On his relationship to Judaism, he said he isn’t into identifying himself with a group, “but yes, I feel that connection on a daily basis. I feel, in myself, the Jewishness of myself, in my personality and my sense of humor — in every aspect of my life it’s part of me.”

Maya Mirsky
Maya Mirsky

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