The Lighter Side! This week: Carl Reiner, Alec Baldwin and Barbra Streisand

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The Lighter Side! This week: Carl Reiner, Alec Baldwin and Barbra Streisand

Our little bit of this, and little bit of that, this week also includes 18-year-old model Ellie Goldstein and a new heartfelt book by Debra Barnes about her Shoah survivor mother

Brigit Grant is the Jewish News Supplements Editor

Carl Reiner with daughter Annie and Mel Brooks
Carl Reiner with daughter Annie and Mel Brooks


From the unfathomable rules about mask wearing (should it match your jacket?)to the arrival of air bridges (is a pump required?), keeping up to speed with the changes requires a McLaren engine and a 3D common sense map.

Sadly, sense is not that common if behaviour on beaches and marches is anything to go by and without a slobbery kiss to curtail a Jewish goodbye, relatives included in a ‘bubble’ don’t know when to leave.

I’m convinced my uncle Kenny will be wandering around my mum’s garden indefinitely eating fish balls until he gets an exit cuddle, and it’s only a matter of time before ‘bubbes at risk’ stage their own ‘challish for a hug’ protest. Even navigating Brent Cross has become a challenge t for Anneka, with hapless shoppers following (or not) arrows leading them to H&M when they want M&S.

Ali G

“No one is following the rules,” moaned a beleaguered security guard – but what are the rules and who is making them?

For comedy, the PC posse appears to be dictating the terms– a group so
woke, Temazepam can’t stop them – hence the potential ostracism of Ali G by the“Staines massive”.

Judging anyone who made us laugh before June 2020 is troubling me, as we have forever relied on comics to vocalise our woes while tickling our minds and censorship is unlikely to nurture new talent.

The death this week of writer/ director Carl Reiner who, with Mel Brooks, created The 2000 Year-Old Man is not lost on those of us who fear humour is in the dock at a Kafakaesque trial.

Gene Wilder and Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles

Perhaps Blazing Saddles, Brooks’ satirical 1974 anti-racist Western depicting the troubles of a black sheriff in an all-white town will be buried in a time capsule in someone’s garden, where they might also find my uncle Kenny, another funny fellow who was raised at a time when a joke was a laughing matter not a cue for vilification.

In a photograph posted on Twitter, Carl Reiner, who died aged 98, is pictured alongside his daughter, Annie, and dear pal Mel, all three in Black Lives Matter T-shirts, proving we’re never too old to empathise, support and learn.What is essential are tolerant teachers who can also be activists, just not the sort who are intent on wiping out history or the legacy of laughter. That’s where they get confused and I don’t, but I’d be happy to explain those rules.


Ozark’s Julia Garner with co-stars Jason Bateman and Laura Linney

Trawling for Jewish talent is part of the job description, so it’s always satisfying to add to the pool and find someone new who can say ‘baruch’
in the world of entertainment.

You may know this about Julia Garner, but I didn’t and her portrayal as Missouri wild child Ruth Langmore in Netflix on-going crime drama Ozark does not suggest Israeli parenting in the Bronx.

That she calls her real-life grandma savta and blames her “gap tooth and weird curly hair” for always being cast as a pregnant Mormon girl only adds to her story. As producer and co-star Jason Bateman (also of the faith, pictured right with Garner in Ozark) has picked up lots of awards for Ozark, among them a best supporting actress Emmy in 2019 for Julia. Please don’t hesitate to tell me about other actors I’ve missed who can sing the Shema.


Mandy with Homeland’s Clare Danes

Damn the virus, but we do appreciate seeing the inside of celebrity homes as a consequence of going virtual. Some attempts by stars to get in on the starry stream has been a disaster and I no longer have to ‘imagine’ Gal Gadot singing as she still has superhero to fall back on. Mandy Patinkin, on the other hand, may have found his niche in reality TV as his charming family videos are a must watch.

Homeland star Patinkin, who was also in Yentl, has been locking down in upstate New York with his wife Kathryn and their son Gideon, the cameraman putting his folks in the frame. Whether reminiscing about seders past or buttering and munching Manischewitz Matzos, the couple always have a song or a sweet nothing to share. Mandy’s impression of Becky, the family Labrador is no match for his forceful portrayal of CIA’s Saul Berenson in Homeland, but I’d really like to see more.


Pod Perfection

US film director Woody Allen (L ) speaks to US actor Alec Baldwin (R) and US actress and model Carol Alt (C) at a terrace at Piazza della Pace (Peace’s square) in central Rome during the filming of his new movie, The Bop Decameron, on July 25, 2011.

Since my long-awaited interview with Woody Allen happened, I’ve been immersing myself in his films and hunting the web for more conversations with said hero.

This led me to the podcast Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin, which is a blissful discovery because of his fascinating, revelatory chats with such creatives as Men in Black director Barry Sonnenfeld (also cinematographer for Big, When Harry Met Sally, and Misery); director Spike Lee and, of course, Woody, whom he met on Zoom. Baldwin starred in Allen’s Blue Jasmine and To Rome With Love, so they have history, as he does with Barbra Streisand, who eats miso soup when they hook up. Against the clatter of spoon against bowl, she talks about her favourite ice cream with chocolate hazelnuts before moving on to hot dogs. In short, it’s a food fest with Baldwin – who was originally considered for the Nick Nolte role in Prince of Tides – declining all offers of nosh.

Baldwin has a rep for being difficult in real life, but he is a doll doing this podcast and Barbra even apologises for not giving him the part. Then she offers him cake. So eat before listening to Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin (WNYC) on apple podcasts and other platforms.

Perfect Shot

Big mazeltov for model Ellie Goldstein who features in Gucci’s new beauty campaign in Italian Vogue.The 18-year-old from Ilford who is studying performing arts has Down’s syndrome, but her success with Zebedee Management has been relentless, with campaigns for Nike, Vodafone and Superdrug now part of her portfolio.So despite the mood, there are still good things happening.

Free Survival Story

I had no idea when I was at school with author Debra Barnes that her mother Paulette was a Holocaust survivor.

It wasn’t spoken about, and only a eulogy at Paulette’s funeral revealed the magnitude of suffering she endured as a child in occupied France.

Now Debra has written a work of fiction – The Young Survivors – a labour of love that is inspired by her mother’s history and ahead of its 23 July publication, there is a short story prequel – The Lakowski Brothers, which is free to download. So Mazeltov Debra, your mother’s memory has been honoured.

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