Celebrity Jews, Movies and more
AT THE MOVIES
Opening Sept. 29:
American Made stars Tom Cruise as the real-life Barry Seal, a hustler and pilot that the CIA recruited to run a huge covert operation involving drugs and guns in the 1980s. Lola Kirke, 26 (Girls), has a large supporting role as the wife of a suspicious Arkansas sheriff. The director is Doug Liman, 52, who directed Cruise in the hit Edge of Tomorrow (2014).
Battle of the Sexes tells the backstory of the famous 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell) that over 90 million people watched. King was famous for fighting for women’s equality in tennis. Prize money was long mostly given to the men, and in larger portions, despite the fact that women drew almost as many fans. Riggs, 55 at the time of the match, was a tennis champ in his youth.
He was 40 and broke when former Detroit Tigers star Hank Greenberg, a friend of Riggs, suggested he play rich guys in “hustle” matches — Riggs would give the rich guy some edge and Riggs and his opponent would bet on the outcome. Riggs took Greenberg’s advice. His biggest hustle was challenging top women players, 20 or more years younger, to a singles match. After one star woman player lost to Riggs, King felt she had to play Riggs to restore the credibility of women’s tennis.
Sarah Silverman, 46, has a large supporting role as Gladys Heldman (1922-2003). A talented amateur player, Heldman worked with players, including King, to found the first women’s pro tennis circuit in 1970. Her daughter, Julie Heldman, now 72, was a top player in 1973. She beat King just two weeks before King played Riggs. A side note: King, who lost all her endorsements overnight when she was outed as gay, has been in a long-term relationship with former tennis star Ilana Kloss, 61. Kloss was inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
The documentary Supergirl will be released on Sept. 28 (DVD and on-demand services including Amazon, iTunes and Vudu). It centers on Naomi Kutin,15, a Modern Orthodox New Jersey girl. When Naomi was 9, she was the subject of a Forward article that explained that she was already breaking records in her weight class for power weightlifting. Filmmaker Jessie Auritt read the article and then followed Naomi and her family for the next five years. We see how Naomi balanced her hard training (she’s coached by her father, who gave her the nickname “Supergirl”) with the demands of her faith (no meets on Shabbat; going to yeshivah; having her bat mitzvah). This film was highly praised when it played Sundance and many other festivals.
HEBREWS IN NEW TV SHOWS
Wisdom of the Crowd is a drama that debuts on CBS on Sunday, Oct. 1, at 8:30 p.m. Jeremy Piven, 52, stars as Jeffrey Tanner, a visionary Silicon Valley tech innovator who creates a cutting-edge crowdsourcing app to solve his daughter’s murder. Inspired by the notion that a million minds are better than one, Tanner develops “Sophe” (the Greek personification of wisdom), an online platform for publicly shared information he’s certain will find his daughter’s killer.
Ten Days in the Valley is an ABC mystery series that begins on Oct. 1 (10 p.m.). Kyra Sedgwick, 52, stars as Jane Sadler, a TV producer whose life gets complicated after her young daughter disappears in the middle of the night.
Nate Bloom COLUMNIST