By Nate Bloom
Very Jewish Basketball Film; Borstein Stand-Up, Rachel Nichols Returns, Rogen Laughs, More
“Sweetwater” opens in theaters on April 14. It chronicles the career of Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton, who was one of the first two African-American players to break the NBA “color line” in 1950. (Two black players broke into the NBA within days of each other). Clifton played for the NY Knicks from 1950-57.
A number of real-life Jews are featured in the film. It would take a full column to detail who they were and why they are important to the Clifton story. Here they are, with their titles; and the actor playing them:
MAURICE PODOLFF (RICHARD DREYFUSS, 75), highly respected attorney and head of the NBA in 1950; JOE LAPHICK (JEREMY PIVEN, 57), he was the coach of the Knicks in 1950 and a great player before coaching; ABE SAPERSTEIN (KEVIN POLLAK, 65), founder and coach of the all-black Harlem Globetrotters. Clifton played for the Globetrotters before joining the Knicks; and EDDIE GOTTLIEB, big-time coach (Mike Star).
Jane, an animated series, for “the whole family”, begins streaming on Apple+ on April 14. This ten-episode series is inspired by the work of Dr. Jane Goodall—who, of course, has done groundbreaking work about the lives of chimpanzees.
Here’s the capsule plot: Jane Garcia, a 9-year-old, is on a quest to save endangered animals. She has epic adventures in which she helps to protect wild animals all over the world.
The series makes it clear that these adventures are the product of Jane’s powerful imagination. Nonetheless, the adventures are “pretty cool” and relay a good message–‘protect wildlife’– for “children of all ages.”
Joining Jane in her adventures are her friend, David (another child), and Greybeard the chimpanzee. David is voiced by child actor MASON BLOMBERG. He may be Jewish, but like most child actors, he has very few public bio details.
DAN ABRAMOVICI, 30ish, is a main (voice) cast actor. He’s an Israel-born, Canadian actor. He has had a number of small TV parts and has directed several short films that have been well-received.
ALEX BORSTEIN, 52, does her first stand-up performance, ever, on April 18th. Her Amazon Prime special is entitled “Corsets & Clown Suits.”
The premiere date of the special was obviously tied-in to the widely publicized premiere (April 14) of the final season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, an Amazon Prime series. Borstein won two, back-to-back Emmys for playing Susan Myerson, Mrs. Maisel’s Jewish agent.
Borstein should do well. She writes her own material. It is hard to craft a good, first stand-up set if it is written by someone other than the comedian. Most people don’t know that Borstein is an accomplished comedy writer. She wrote comedic material for two series that she also acted-in—“Mad TV” and “The Family Guy”.
Last November, I wrote a long column item about sportscaster RACHEL NICHOLS, 42. Here’s the capsule version: she was a top ESPN sports broadcaster and interview host before she was fired in 2021.
Her firing followed the release of a tape of a 2020 private conversation she had on her personal cell phone. In this conversation, Nichols complained that an ESPN position that she wanted was given to an African American woman with far less experience.
Nichols’ conversation was probably illegally recorded and Nichols used no racist language in the phone call.
Nichols, who was the daughter-in-law of the late, great director MIKE NICHOLS, contested her firing and got a very big settlement. And now she is back as the host of her own sports interview program. Its entitled “Headliners with Rachel Nichols” and it starts on April 13 on Showtime. The show’s publicity promises big name exclusive interviews and civil, thoughtful conversations.
I just came across a SETH ROGEN interview, with the Cinema Blend website, that made me laugh. On March 25, Rogen was promoting “The Super Mario Movie” (Rogen has a voice role) when the Cinema Blend reporter told him about Kanye West’s latest statement about Jews.
Summarized, Kanye said he “liked Jewish people again after seeing Jonah Hill in ’21 Jump Street’” (a 2012 movie).
Rogen, 40, burst out laughing when he heard about Kanye’s change-of-heart. Then he joked that he can take “slight ownership” of Kanye’s new attitude because he (Rogen) wrote some jokes for “21 Jump Street.”
Rogen then added: “You know what? Jonah Hill can have it [credit]. Happy to be left out of that one. But you know what? Good! Cured! They should send that movie around the world, let everyone watch it!”