CHABON AND ROOTS
I noted last week that Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon, 55, was writing an episode of Star Trek: Discovery. In the past week, more details were released about that and, by coincidence, his wife, writer Ayelet Waldman, 53, appeared in many news reports last week as well.
Discovery, on the CBS All-Access streaming service, has turned into a pretty big hit. The second season of Discovery begins next January. To keep viewer interest fresh, CBS ordered four 15-minute mini-episodes (called Star Treks) that will premiere this fall. The mini-episode “Calypso” was written by Chabon. It follows a man who finds himself alone on a deserted ship.
Waldman, a former lawyer and law professor, has been married to Chabon since 1993 and they have four children. Like Chabon, Waldman’s novels frequently have Jewish characters and themes, and they both have written essays on Jewish subjects. Waldman’s moment in the news began when Henry Louis Gates, the host of the PBS celebrity ancestry show Finding Your Roots disclosed in the July 31 episode that House Speaker Paul Ryan, a practicing Catholic, has some remote Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry (about 3 percent of his DNA). Gates let this drop during a news conference promoting the fifth season of his show, which premieres in January.
On Aug. 1, Ryan tweeted: “Guess I have to start saying l’chaim, too, now.”
Waldman, a political progressive like her husband, responded to the Roots news a few hours later. In a tweet that was widely reported, Waldman wrote: “I’m sorry but no, we don’t want him.” Also weighing in was Stephen Colbert, a practicing Catholic like Ryan, and a progressive like Waldman. He joked on air: “Haven’t the Jewish people suffered enough?”
The fifth Roots season will have 25 guests. Three are Jewish: comedian Andy Samberg, 39; comedian Sarah Silverman, 47; and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, 48. Also, comedian Seth Meyers, whose paternal grandfather was Jewish, is a guest. But it’s unclear if his Jewish ancestry will be a focus of his episode.
Samberg is the subject of this intriguing teaser in the official Roots press release: “Highlights include a search for Andy Samberg’s biological grandparents” I gather, from this release, that either Andy’s (Jewish) mother or his (Jewish) father was adopted. My educated guess, based on a lot of clues, is that it was his mother who was adopted, and I won’t be that surprised if she’s biologically Jewish.
ADAM BRINGS THE SUGAR
The “pay-for” wing of YouTube, formerly called YouTube Red, has been relabeled YouTube Premium. If you, or a password-sharing friend, subscribe, you might check out Sugar, a new series that started on Premium on Aug. 15. The title is inspired by a YouTube music video (“Sugar”) featuring Adam Levine, 39, and his band Maroon 5. That video got 2.5 billion views. In the series, a famous musician or band will surprise a superfan of the musician(s) with a personal visit. Levine, who produces the series, will be in one of its eight weekly episodes. Appearing in another episode is singer/songwriter Charlie Puth, 26. Puth, whose mother is Jewish, has been hot since his first hit (“See You Again”) in 2015.