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The One With the Hero

June 15, 2006 By:
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Pickler Jews?
Bryn Mawr's Marta Kauffman has turned friend to a famous Holocaust hero.

The "Friends" co-creator whose central perk from the series has been millions of bucks of profits and even more truckloads of fame and caffeine, is turning her interest in Jewish history into a documentary format.

The one with the hero: Kauffman is teaming up with Roberta Grossman as director and the Katahdin Foundation to produce a docu on the life and times - and timeless story - of Hannah Senesh, the martyr who parachuted behind enemy lines during World War II only to be captured and ultimately executed.

A source of imagery for the imagination of many in Hollywood and New York before - including a long-running one-woman play - Senesh and one of her poems will lend the biographical film its title: "Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh."

Jewish concerns are no stranger to Kauffman who, with husband Michael Skloff, is active in their local L.A. Jewish community.

Says Kauffman: "I strongly believe that Holocaust stories must continue to be told, especially now, when survivors are in their 80s and 90s, and still able to provide firsthand accounts."

No word yet on whether any of the "Friends" stars have been approached for narrator duties. ("How you doin', Hannah … ")

Maybe if she'd take them out for a cup of coffee …

• • •

From Upright to Down South: Matt Besser, whose antics as a member of the uproarious Upright Citizens Brigade broke up audiences tuned into the group's show on Comedy Central for three years, has plugged into the stage for his current electric shock of reality.

"My name is Matt Besser, and I'm an Arkansas Razorback. My father is a Jew from Little Rock, Ark; my mother was a Christian from Harrison, Ark.; and somehow, I'm an atheist now living in L.A., a Razorback living in the Razorback Diaspora."

That's what he's got to say from the stage in "Woo Pig Sooie," his one-man show with a thousand different attitudes he's now taking on tour.

As Besser recently told the Nashville Scene: "I only went to temple when someone died. But I was always defensive about the Jewish jokes, because in Arkansas, Jews are such a minority."

Talking about minorities: How many Jewish comics are there whose act is a call-out to pigskin?

• • •

Television takes center stage in a new musical about a Jewish matinee idol whose idle time causes him to rethink his career and come up with a TV Christmas special.

Christmas in July? The show, "Jerry Christmas," is spending next month in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., at the Powerhouse Theatre, New York Stage and Film.

Given the company's Broadway track record, the show will probably be making tracks for Manhattan soon afterward.

It's not an unorthodox path, and one that would be welcome by librettist Daniel Goldfarb, whose last Broadway entry, the comedy "Modern Orthodox," laid some tefillin and profits on its producers.

"Jerry Christmas … guess it's the wintertime kin of "Jerry Springer, the Opera."

• • •

Are ya cable ready?

"Shalom, Shalom, to say Shalom, it's the nicest greeting I know … ." Those lilting lyrics from the Jerry Herman musical "Milk and Honey" are now getting a welcome greeting too from the local cable industry as Shalom TV, described as "a mainstream Jewish cultural channel featuring relevant and entertaining programming for every Jewish home," has hooked up with Comcast Cable.

The digital and in-demand network - which already has made its mark in other cities - will offer subscription video-on-demand service on Comcast's southeastern Pennsylvania/northern Delaware outlets starting Aug. 30.

So, its "Shalom" to Shalom TV prexy/CEO Rabbi Mark S. Golub who, "TV Turns-Ons" can only guess, has one reaction to this new venture:

Comcastic!

• • •

American Idiot? "American Idol" finalist Kellie Pickler often appeared to be one, but playing the fool doesn't mean she is one.

Indeed, the Southern belle with a gong more than ring actually showed how clever and smart her smart-ass act can be during her "correspondent's" role at the MTV Movie Awards Red Carpet hoo-ha, where she repped the Jay Leno show.

Acetylene torch-acerbic comic Jeffrey Ross, who often hosts those, uh, frisky Friar Club roasts, was hoisted on his own Jew-tard when he responded to Pickler picking him out of the crowd.

"Ever hug a Jew?" he asked of the nubile naif, then wrapping his arms around her.

"Oh, my God!" screamed Pickler. "I've just been hugged by my first Ja-ew!"

• • •

"Lost" and found opportunities: Seems "Lost" and its Jewish producer, J.J. Abrams, have a thing for Jewish doughy delicacies.

Last month's mystery-enshrouded season twist of a finale was braided in a code word: challah.

No man - or word - is an island; it was the second time Jewish bread provided the bread and butter for the final episode.

The first season's secretive ending concluded, coded in a schmear campaign: It was known as "The Bagel."

"TV Turn-Ons" is looking forward to next season's finale:

Schnecken.


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