Hollywood Now: Zooey Deschanel on New Girl’s Farewell; Leslie Mann on Blockers & Being a Parent

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Zooey Deschanel
Zooey Deschanel returns as Jess in season seven of New Girl. Credit: Jeff Lipsky/FOX

The Fox sitcom New Girl begins its final season on April 10, and Zooey Deschanel sets the scene for the eight episodes that begin with a three-year time jump. “We come back in season seven, and Winston and Aly and Schmidt and Cece have moved on to different parts of their lives. Nick and Jess are still traveling around the world. They aren’t married, and they don’t have kids. So there’s room for growth,” she says. “I was really happy that we were able to get a last season. I wanted to be able to do a season where we knew we were ending and could wrap it up properly.”

She planned to take a framed picture of a watermelon as a souvenir, along with great memories. “It’s such a treat to get to work with amazing people for seven years. That is so rare. I feel this sense of camaraderie that I’ve never felt before, and I don’t know if I’ll ever have again. I can’t say enough positive things about this experience,” she says. “I will forever miss it.”

So what’s next? Spending more family time with her husband, producer Jacob Pechenik—who is Jewish (Zooey converted to Judaism)—and their children Elsie, 2, and Charlie, 10 months. “I was content to stay at work for really long hours before I had kids but now I want to get home to see my kiddos,” Deschanel says. She’s also looking to get back to the singer-songwriter side of her career. “I’m planning on doing more music as soon as possible. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Blockers
Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz & John Cena. Credit: Universal Pictures

Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz and John Cena star as parents who find out about their teenage daughters’ pact to lose their virginity on prom night and launch a plan to stop it in the new comedy Blockers. As the parents of daughters themselves, Mann and Barinholtz can relate. Mann (This is 40, The Other Woman), who is in an interfaith marriage with Jewish writer-director Judd Apatow, “got the call to do the movie while I was dropping my eldest daughter off at college so it was something that I felt really connected to,” she says. Her character Lisa is struggling with the fact that her only child is about leave home as well. Mann recently wrapped director Robert Zemeckis’ drama The Women of Marwen, opposite Steve Carell and Diane Kruger. It’s due for release in November.

Barinholtz (The Mindy Project) plays a divorced dad in Blockers but off screen, the Jewish actor is in an interfaith marriage with Erica Hanson and is the father of two little girls, Payton and Foster. During a fall stunt on the set, he suffered a serious injury that fractured two vertebrae in his neck, which put him in a neck brace for months. The Mindy Project wrote the injury into scripts for its last season to accommodate the recovering actor. Barinholtz will make his directorial debut with the comedy thriller The Oath, which he wrote and co-stars in with Tiffany Haddish.

Nate Berkus & Jeremiah Brent
Nate Berkus, Jeremiah Brent & daughter Poppy. Credit: TLC

Married interior designers Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent have more to celebrate than the April 10 return of their TLC home makeover series Nate & Jeremiah By Design. The interfaith couple, married since 2014, have a new son: Oskar Michael Brent-Berkus was born via surrogate on March 26. Berkus, who is Jewish, and Brent, who is not, also have a 3-year-old daughter, Poppy, who appears with them in the show. “We have waited for you, we already love you and we as a family stand on the shoulders of so many people who have made it possible for families,” Berkus said in Oskar’s birth announcement on Instagram. Mazel tov!

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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.