By Nate Bloom

Contributing Columnist

A Woman Friend, What an Idea!, Even More Spider-Man, Updates, and Something Amusing

“Platonic” is a 10-episode Apple+ series that began on May 24. The first three episodes streamed on the 24th, and the rest of the episodes will first stream on successive Wednesdays. 

Before last week, the plot description in media outlets was minimal. This one line was repeated, “everywhere”: “SETH ROGEN [40] and Rose Byrne co-star as platonic friends who re-connect after a long rift.” 

On May 20, the NY Times ran a long, detailed piece about “Platonic.” The upside of all this detail was that I learned that “Platonic” tries to do something very different, and fresh, in the genre of female/male friendships. If the series works, it will be something quite special.

“Platonic” is not about a man and a woman who are friends and eventually become lovers (as in “When Harry Met Sally”). Here’s the Times description of the set-up: “Sylvia (Byrne), a happily married but slightly bored woman, tries to rekindle a friendship with Will (Rogen), a middle-aged man-child going through a painful divorce. Sylvia and Will used to hang out, partying and laughing but never sleeping together. They eventually went their separate ways, largely because Sylvia didn’t care for Will’s wife. Now Will is back, lonely and a bit needy.” 

The Times article then laid-out the pluses and minuses in their renewed friendship — and how, like many men and women, they manage to have a satisfactory, “pals” relationship.

“Platonic” was created by NICHOLAS STOLLER, 47, and FRANCESCA DELBANCO, 46. They co-wrote the first episode and Delbanco wrote the last five episodes, alone. Stoller directed all 10 episodes. Stoller’s biggest film hits (as a director) are “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Neighbors”.

Delbanco is Stoller’s wife, and she’s the daughter of NICHOLAS DELBANCO, 80, a prominent non-fiction and novel writer. By the way, the name “Delbanco” isn’t Sephardi. But for reasons unknown to me, there a number of Ashkenazi German Jews who had/have this last name — including Nicholas’ German Jewish immigrant parents.

“Spider-Man — Across the Spider-Verse” is an animated superhero film about, of course, Spider-Man. But it is set in a multiverse of alternate universes. It has a VERY complicated plot. Here are the Jewish (voice) actors in “big” roles: HAILEE STEINFELD, 26, voices Spider-Woman; JAKE JOHNSON, 44, voices an old “version” of Spider-Man, and JASON SCHWARTZMAN, 42, voices Spot, a villain (these three actors are secular and have a Jewish father). Appearing in smaller voice roles are RACHEL DRATCH, 57, and ANDY SAMBERG, 44. (Opens on June 2.)

Two interviews with BILLIE BOULETT, 18, who played ANNE FRANK in the Hulu/Disney mini-series “A Small Light,” appeared just as the series concluded last month. In both interviews, she said she is Jewish — and she gave informed “Jewish answers” about everything she was asked about — Jewish food, Jewish songs, holidays, the Holocaust.

I’m glad she is Jewish (I thought she wasn’t). It’s nice to see a dramatization of the Frank family that has an almost all-Jewish cast.

I’m sure you remember JONAH HAUER-KING, the “hot” 27-year-old guy who is playing Prince Eric in the new live-action version of “The Little Mermaid.” In my last column, I wrote that his mother is Jewish and that Jonah was raised Jewish.

I wrote that it was unclear whether his father, Jeremy King, is Jewish. Well, I was referred to an on-line (2019) video interview he did for a U.K. Jewish Book Week “foodie” event. Until recently, Jeremy was the co-owner of several top UK restaurants.

In passing, Jeremy said that he isn’t Jewish, but may have some Jewish ancestry. A bit after this, he said that Jews were his most loyal customers and he appreciated that they vocally complained if something was wrong. Most customers, he said, just “moaned.”

This is the first time that I am telling a personal anecdote in this column. Over the years, I’ve told this story to many friends and even a few editors and they all laughed.

The original, animated film “The Little Mermaid” (1989) was a huge hit. Young children especially loved it.

My niece, ALLIE, began kindergarten about a year after the film opened. Rachel, a Korean-American girl, was Allie’s classmate and friend. One day, Allie proudly told Rachel that her Hebrew name was Ariel, which is also the name of the Little Mermaid. Rachel, a very clever girl, replied: “Well, my Hebrew name is Sleeping Beauty.” Allie said, “Wow” and ran home and told her mother, ELAINE, that Rachel’s Hebrew name is Sleeping Beauty. Elaine was amused, of course, and relayed this story to our family.