Hollywood Now: The Best of TV for the Holidays and to Kick Off the New Year

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Amy Schumer and Henry Louis Gates Jr. Credit: Ark Media
Amy Schumer and Henry Louis Gates Jr. Credit: Ark Media

Schumer Explores Her Family History

Amy Schumer, the daughter of a Jewish father and a Protestant mother who was raised in her father’s faith, explores her family history in the December 19 episode of PBS’ Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Schumer knew her step-great-grandmother Estelle, but everything about her biological great-grandmother Anne was a total mystery. Some facts emerge about her marriage, presumed adultery and divorce in the show, which also examines the ancestries of Aziz Ansari and Maya Rudolph.

A Movie Classic Set to Music

The 1983 movie classic A Christmas Story is a perennial holiday favorite on TV, but if you’d like to see it set to music, here’s your chance: Fox will broadcast A Christmas Story Live! on December 17, with Matthew Broderick narrating as the grown-up Ralphie Parker, Maya Rudolph as Ralphie’s mom, Chris Diamantopoulos as his dad, and Jane Krakowski as his teacher. The show includes a Hanukkah number, sung by Ana Gasteyer as Mrs. Schwartz. “It’s fun to have a Hanukkah song join the ranks of the Christmas songs in the musical,” she says. “I think everybody felt like it can really be a holiday experience.” The holidays are interfaith off-screen for Rudolph, who is Jewish on her father’s side, and is married to director Paul Thomas Anderson (not Jewish) the father of her four children. Broderick, the father of three, is not Jewish, but his wife Sarah Jessica Parker is Jewish on her father’s side and considers herself culturally Jewish.

Vivian Howard, Ben Knight and their kids Flo and Theo. Credit: Baxter Miller
Vivian Howard, Ben Knight and their kids Flo and Theo. Credit: Baxter Miller

A Chef’s Interfaith Holiday Encore

In an encore of a 2016 holiday broadcast, Chef Vivian Howard celebrates Christmas and Hanukkah traditions in A Chef’s Life Holiday Special, airing on PBS December 14. Howard, who was raised Southern Baptist in North Carolina, is married to Jewish chef Ben Knight, a Chicago native she met in New York at Voyage, the restaurant where they worked. They now live in Kinston, North Carolina with their twins Theo and Flo and run Chef & the Farmer restaurant. Howard pays homage to southern cooking traditions by making corned ham, sausage biscuits, yams, Hoppin’ John (a beans and rice dish) and red velvet cake for Christmas, and celebrates the first night of Hanukkah with Ben and his visiting family. The menorah is lit and everyone enjoys potato latkes with applesauce as Ben’s mother explains the meaning of Hanukkah.

 

David Duchovny. Credit: Frank Ockenfels/Fox
David Duchovny. Credit: Frank Ockenfels/Fox

The X-Files Rings in the New Year

David Duchovny, who is Jewish on his father’s side, returns in the second season of Fox’s rebooted series The X-Files on January 3 with an episode that continues the sci-fi saga’s ongoing storyline. Thereafter, all episodes but the finale will be stand-alone stories.

Henry Winkler, Terry Bradshaw, Jeff Dye, George Foreman and William Shatner. Credit: Rico Torres/NBC
Henry Winkler, Terry Bradshaw, Jeff Dye, George Foreman and William Shatner. Credit: Rico Torres/NBC

Better Late Than Never

In the summer of 2016, William Shatner, Henry Winkler, Terry Bradshaw and George Foreman went on a comic adventure through Asia for the NBC series Better Late Than Never. Their travels—and antics—continue in season two, which takes them (and sidekick Jeff Dye) to Germany, Lithuania, Sweden, Spain, Russia and Morocco, kicking off with a two-hour premiere on January 1. Like Winkler, Shatner is Jewish, and he has been in an interfaith marriage to his fourth wife Elizabeth Martin since 2001.

Will Smith and Joel Edgerton. Credit: Matt Kennedy/Netflix
Will Smith and Joel Edgerton. Credit: Matt Kennedy/Netflix

A Sci-Fi World Premieres on Netflix

Premiering on Netflix December 22, Bright is a buddy cop movie with a sci-fi twist: It’s set in a world populated by humans and mythical creatures. Will Smith plays a human cop forced to work with an Orc (Joel Edgerton) to prevent a powerful weapon from falling into the wrong hands. The 90 million dollar effects-filled action drama also stars Noomi Rapace, Lucy Fry, Edgar Ramirez and Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project, Suicide Squad), who is Jewish and married to TV producer Erica Hanson who is not Jewish.

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About Gerri Miller

Gerri Miller writes and reports from Los Angeles about celebrities, entertainment and lifestyle for The Jewish Journal, FromtheGrapevine.com, Brain World, HeathCentral.com, 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.