By Nate Bloom
I long wasn’t sure if “SNL” star Seth Meyers, now 39, was Jewish or not. About four years ago, a very reliable media source reported that his younger comic actor brother, Josh Meyers, was Jewish. Based on that source, I made one of my very few mistakes and described Seth as Jewish in this column. It appears that a column reader with a “line into” NBC contacted “SNL” and not long after I got a call from an NBC staffer who informed me that “Seth Meyers is not Jewish.” Subsequently, I was able to determine that Meyers’ paternal grandfather was his only Jewish grandparent. (My sense is that Meyers is not religious.)
On July 6, Meyers got engaged to his longtime girlfriend, human rights lawyer ALEXI ASHE, 30. Ashe’s mother, JOAN, is the daughter of two Holocaust survivors. Her father, TOM, a Jew-by-Choice, spoke to famous Jewish food chef JOAN NATHAN in 2010 about how he and his wife cook together on holidays: “Since I am a convert,” he said, “each holiday brings back memories of when I was in my mid-20s and chose Judaism. They are definitely my holidays too, and I look forward to the foods, the smells, and the traditions. The Jewish palate is more eclectic than what I grew up with as a young Protestant boy in Queens. Jews have the whole world, from Middle Eastern to Asian foods.”
I think it’s likely that Seth and Alexi will have a Jewish wedding. There’s even an outside chance that Meyers will “join the tribe” and I’ll be retroactively right about him being Jewish. By the way, Meyers is set to replace Jimmy Fallon as the host of NBC’s “Late Night” when Fallon replaces Jay Leno as the host of “The Tonight Show” in 2014.
“The Way Way Back,” which opened in a few theaters on July 4, has gotten good reviews and great buzz. Look for it to be added to the schedule of a theater near you. It’s this year’s “sleeper” summer hit movie. The movie’s lead character is Duncan (Liam James), a shy 14-year-old boy who goes on summer vacation with his mother (Toni Collette) and her boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carrell). Trent is mean to Duncan, but he is mentored by the owner of a local water park (Sam Rockwell).
AMANDA PEET, 41, and MAYA RUDOLPH, 40, have juicy supporting roles. Pretty newcomer ZOE LEVIN, 20, plays Trent’s not-very-nice teen daughter. Levin, who comes from a religious Jewish family, grew up in a Chicago suburb.
Hope for Amanda Bynes
Right now, I believe that actress AMANDA BYNES, 27, who was very sweet when I interviewed her in 2007, is suffering from a mental breakdown and is likely self-medicating with street drugs. She has fended off intervention attempts by her parents (her mother is Jewish). It is legally very difficult to force an adult into treatment and Bynes, almost certainly, has millions of dollars of past earnings that provide her with a cushion from reality.
Although it seems unlikely now, she could make a comeback. Robert Downey, Jr., who spent time in state prison for drug use, cleaned-up in 2006 and “Iron Man” has turned him into a mega-star. Actress NATASHA LYONNE, 34, appears to be another “happy story.” While never a star, Lyonne had a lot of good adolescent roles, including playing a sharp-tongued teen in the first “American Pie” movie. However, from 2001-2007, she had well-publicized battles with hard drug substance abuse; was arrested several times; and almost died from drug-related illness.
Since 2008, she’s been clean and has re-built her career on the stage. Now she has a juicy co-starring role in the new Netflix series, “Orange is the New Black.” All 13 episodes of the first season series were released for Netflix on-line viewing on July 11 and it has already been picked-up for a second season. Lyonne, in a case of art-imitating-life, plays a drug addict who is the prison cellmate of the lead character, Piper Chapman.
Lyonne recently spoke to “Women’s Wear Daily” (WWD), which described her as “sober and very together.” About her character’s relationship to her own life, she told WWD: “In those reservoirs of pain that come with being that self-destructive, also comes this buoyancy and survival that comes from what it’s like to come out on the other side. I feel lucky to be able to inform the character with that degree of honesty.”
Next week, I’ll tell you about the other Jewish members of the cast and the woman who is the basis of the series.