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Hollywood Now: Lisa Kudrow's Success Story & James Franco's Sexy New Role

July 12, 2013

Kudrow's Not-so-Hollywood Marriage

Lisa Kudrow is a Hollywood success story off camera as well as on screen. On July 22, the former Friends star returns for a new season of the Showtime comedy Web Therapy, and the celebrity genealogy series she co-produces, Who Do You Think You Are?, has moved to TLC (from NBC) for a new series of episodes that begin July 23. Kudrow, who is in an interfaith marriage, recently celebrated her 18th wedding anniversary, which is twice that in Hollywood years!

Lisa Kudrow
Lisa Kudrow. Credit: Showtime

Kudrow, who is Jewish and had a bat mitzvah even though her family wasn’t particularly religious, married Frenchman Michael Stern in May 1995, and they’re raising their son Julian, now 15, Jewish. Three years ago on Who Do You Think You Are?, Kudrow traced her own Jewish roots to Belarus and sadly discovered that her paternal great-grandmother, Mera Mordejovich, had been slaughtered by the Nazis with 900 other Jews in her town.

This season on WDYTYA, one of the eight episodes focuses on comedian and writer Chelsea Handler (Chelsea Lately), who was raised in her father’s Reform Jewish faith though her German-born mother is Mormon. It’s the third episode, due to air August 6 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

James Franco
James Franco. Credit: Disney
James Franco Does Playboy

Actor James Franco, star of 127 HoursOz: The Great and Powerful and the recent apocalyptic comedy This is the End, has a background as varied as his roles: His father is of Portuguese and Swedish descent and Christian and his mother is Russian-Jewish (her family name was originally Verovitz, changed to Verne in the 1940s). Franco had a secular upbringing and said in an interview in The Guardian that he felt he "missed out on the Jewish experience.” Next up for the busy actor is Lovelace, in which he plays Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner opposite Amanda Seyfried in the title porn star role. It hits theaters August 8.


L.A’.s New Interfaith Mayor

Los Angeles is the very definition of a melting pot, and its new mayor reflects that diversity in his ethnicity and religion. Eric Garcetti’s mother is of Russian-Jewish heritage, and his father’s ancestry is multi-ethnic: Mexican, Italian, Native American and Spanish. Neither parent practiced their religion, but their cultures were influential. “I always felt myself to be Jewish and Latino very comfortably,” Garcetti told L.A.’s Jewish Journal. “Weekends were both filled with bowls of menudo and lots of bagels.”

Garcetti celebrated Hanukkah and Passover and went to Jewish camp in his youth, and connected with Judaism even more at Columbia University. He now attends High Holy Days and occasional Shabbat services at a progressive synagogue. He’s carrying on the interfaith tradition in his own marriage—his wife Amy Wakeland is not Jewish.


Hebrew for "daughter of the commandments." In modern Jewish practice, Jewish girls come of age at 12 or 13. When a girl comes of age, she is officially a bat mitzvah and considered an adult. The term is commonly used as a short-hand for the bat mitzvah's coming-of-age ceremony and/or celebration. The male equivalent is "bar mitzvah." Derived from the Greek word for "assembly," a Jewish house of prayer. Synagogue refers to both the room where prayer services are held and the building where it occurs. In Yiddish, "shul." Reform synagogues are often called "temple." Hanukkah (known by many spellings) is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd Century BCE. It is marked by the lighting of a menorah and the eating of fried foods. The spring holiday commemorating the Exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. The Hebrew name is "Pesach." The Jewish Sabbath, from sunset on Friday to nightfall on Saturday.
Gerri Miller

Gerri Miller writes and reports from Los Angeles about celebrities, entertainment and lifestyle for, The Jewish Journal, Brain World, Lupus Now, and others. A New York native, she spent a summer working at Kibbutz Giv'at Brenner in Israel and attends High Holy Day services at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood every year.

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