Celebrity Jews: Thoroughbreds, Heathers And More
Opening on Friday, March 9, is Thoroughbreds, co-starring the late Anton Yelchin in his final film role. You may recall that Yelchin died in a freak car accident in June 2016, age 27. At the time of his death, Yelchin was a well-established film actor, probably best known for his role as Chekov in the Star Trek re-boot movies. Thoroughbreds is dedicated to Yelchin.
The film is a black comedy and quasi-thriller about Lily and Amanda, childhood friends in suburban Connecticut who re-connect when Amanda’s very wealthy mother hires Lily, a model student, to tutor Amanda for the SATs.
Amanda has a sharp wit, but is almost a sociopath and starts to lure Lily into her nasty plans. They bond over Lily’s contempt for her oppressive stepfather. Yelchin plays Tim, a local hustler who the girls hire to do some dirty work for them. The film played numerous festivals and got good reviews. A British reviewer said this about Yelchin’s performance: “[He] gives another twitchy, compelling turn that reminds us why he’ll be missed so much.”
TV AND MORE
Spike, the sort-of-for-men cable channel, has been re-named Paramount TV and now features original scripted shows aimed at a young audience of any gender. Remember Heathers, the 1988 hit black comedy, set in a high school, starring Winona Ryder? Well, it’s been revived as a Paramount series. The first 10-episode season started on March 7 (new episodes air Wednesdays, 10 p.m.), but there will be many encore showings this week and the first episode is free to view online, also streaming for free on Roku.
In the movie, there was a four-member “hot girl” clique that all called themselves “Heather.” In the series, the leader of the Heathers (Heather Chandler) is a very heavy-set girl and another Heather (Heather Duke) is played by a man (this Heather has gender identity issues). But before I get lost in the Heathers weeds — here’s the Jewish stuff: The star character, soon-to-be a “Heather” — Veronica Sawyer (the role Ryder played) — is identified as “half Jewish” in the pilot. Not sure which half, or if this fact will have meaning going forward.
Appearing in recurring parts are Selma Blair, 45, and Cameron Gellman, 19. Blair, a Southfield native, plays Jade, the stepmother of Heather Duke. Jade is a former stripper who’s biding her time until her 82-year-old husband dies. Gellman, a relative newcomer, plays Kurt Kelly, the high school’s secretly gay quarterback. He is secretly dating Heather Duke.
Jason Alexander, 58, (“George” on Seinfeld) will guest star on the March 15 episode of the hit CBS series Young Sheldon. He’ll play Mr. Lundy, Medford High School’s resident drama teacher. Lundy is described as “boldly shepherding” Sheldon into the world of acting. Nice to note: Alexander and his (Jewish) wife, Daena Title, have been married since 1981 and have two sons, Gabriel, 27, and Noah, 22.
On June 14, Detroit-native Allee Willis, 70, will be inducted into the prestigious Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. This multimedia artist is best known for writing such mega-hits as “I’ll Be There for You” (the theme from Friends), the Pointer Sisters’ “Neutron Dance” and Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September” and “Boogie Wonderland.” I’ll say much more about Willis and another 2018 hitmaker/inductee, Steve Dorff, 68, following the induction ceremony.