Now streaming on Hulu is The First, an eight-episode limited (i.e., no second season) series about the first mission to Mars. Sean Penn, 58, stars as an astronaut selected for the mission. Reviews have praised Penn’s performance and the series in general. Critics say that the show takes too long to get into space but gets much better when it does. So stay with it through early episodes.

Penn, the always-secular son of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, is now on my permanent “good list” for two things: 1) Giving a bravura performance as the late Harvey Milk. Milk deserved a good bio-pic, and Penn was a key to that happening and (2) In 2013, he rescued Orthodox businessman Jacob Ostreicher, now 59, from a Bolivian jail and took him to his home and nursed him back to health. When Penn’s role leaked out, about a year after the rescue, praise came from every sector of the American Jewish community.

The Neighborhood, a comedy/drama, begins on Monday, Oct. 1, on CBS (8 p.m.). Max Greenfield (Schmidt on New Girl), 38, stars as Dave Johnson. Things get dicey when Johnson, who is described as the “nicest guy in the Midwest,” moves his family to a tough L.A. neighborhood. Many people there don’t appreciate his extreme neighborliness. Cedric the Entertainer co-stars.


The 70th Emmy awards, held last week, saw Jewish folks clean up in the comedy categories and do well elsewhere. Henry Winkler (Barry), 72, won the supporting actor in a comedy series Emmy and Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), 47, won the supporting actress in a comedy series award. The creator of Mrs. Maisel, Amy Sherman-Palladino, 52, won three Emmys. Maisel won the comedy series Emmy and, as a show producer, she accepted the award. Individually, she won as the director of the best comedy episode (the Maisel pilot) and best written comedy episode (the Maisel pilot). The Maisel juggernaut included Rachel Brosnahan, who won the lead actress (comedy) award for playing the Jewish Mrs. Maisel.

Henry Winkler
Henry Winkler Jackie Headapohl | Detroit Jewish News

Joel Weisberg, 52, and Joel Fields, 50ish (The Americans), won the Emmy for writing the best drama episode. I recently learned that Fields’ late father was Rabbi Harvey J. Fields, who served as president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California. The best drama series Emmy went to Game of Thrones, which is produced by, and frequently written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, both 47. Saturday Night Live won the Emmy for best variety sketch series. The award was accepted by Lorne Michaels, 73, the creator and principal producer of SNL.

Lorne Michaels
Lorne Michaels
(Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic) Jackie Headapohl | Detroit Jewish News
Alex Borstein
Alex Borstein
(Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images) Jackie Headapohl | Detroit Jewish News

Moving moments: (1) Henry Winkler winning his first Emmy after five previous nominations. On stage, he said he dreamed of being an actor when he was 7 years old living in New York City “with short German Jewish parents who did not want me to be an actor … I was 27 when I started doing ‘the Fonz.’ I’m now 72 and I’m standing right here in front of you with [an Emmy]. Wow.” and (2) Glenn Weiss, 57, who won an Emmy for best direction of a variety special (The Oscars), proposing marriage to his girlfriend from the stage. She accepted and joined him on stage

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