By Nate Bloom
1. “Proven Innocent”
Starting on Feb. 15 on Fox (9 p.m.) is the legal drama “Proven Innocent.” It stars Rachel Lefevre, 39, as Madeline Scott, a fierce attorney who leads a team to exonerate the wrongly convicted. The back story is that Scott was the defendant in a high-profile case, was wrongly convicted, spent 10 years in jail, and eventually was proved innocent. In court, she frequently jousts with the prosecutor (Kelsey Grammer) who put her in jail.
Leferve, a Montreal native, is the daughter of a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father. While she’s secular, she identifies as Jewish. Her stepfather is a Canadian rabbi. By the way, the series is shot in Chicago and filming of episodes was halted on Jan. 30 due to the incredible cold wave. It has resumed.
2. “Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Got to Be Me”
“Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Got to Be Me,” is the title of a new American Masters series program about the late Sammy Davis Jr. It will premiere Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 9 p.m. (PBS). His multi-faceted life and career will be covered, including his conversion to Judaism. American Masters, in my opinion, is the best biographical series on TV or on any other outlet.
3. “Finding Your Roots: No Laughing Matter”
The Feb. 19 (Tuesday, 8 p.m.) episode of the PBS ancestry show, “Finding Your Roots,” titled “No Laughing Matter,” traces some of the family lines of three comedians: Tig Notaro, Sarah Silverman, 48, and Seth Meyers, 45. I just had an opportunity to view this program in advance.
As I have noted before, Meyers had just one Jewish grandparent (his paternal grandpa). So, until I saw the program, I wasn’t sure whether his Jewish ancestry would be covered at all. I am happy to say it was.
Silverman’s “basic” ancestry story is not that exciting because it is so similar to the family history of so many Jews whose grandparents came from Eastern Europe. But it is made much more personal when Silverman learns about the hard road her maternal grandmother trod as a youngster fleeing to America — and that hardship may explain much about her grandma’s personality.
Silverman is eloquent when she talks about what it was like to be the only Jewish kid (besides her sister) in the small New Hampshire town where she grew up.
Meyers, by coincidence, also grew up in New Hampshire. In the last few years, he’s often said that people assume he is Jewish because of his “look,” his last name and because he is a comedian.
Years ago, his brother, Josh Meyers, 46, also a comedian, said something that anyone would understand that he was referring to himself as Jewish.
I followed Josh’s lead and described Seth as Jewish in print. Well, his publicity people contacted me via e-mail and said, “Seth is not Jewish.” This is the only time that has happened to me.
Well, since then, life has intervened. Seth is now as Jewish as a non-Jew can be. He married his wife, attorney Alexi Ashe, in a Jewish ceremony and they are raising their two kids in his mother’s faith. Maybe that’s why Jake Tapper wished him a “happy Chanukah” on-air last December and Seth just returned the greeting.
Now, via Roots, Seth knows that his Jewish great-grandfather came to America with nothing, settled in Pittsburgh and did amazingly well.