The Jerusalem Post
Shark shock, Soul Queen and Shababnikim strike again
Just when you thought it was safe to get off the couch, the virus is back, albeit in a fairly non-threatening version, but its reemergence is good timing for those who would rather stay in and watch sharks on TV.
The National Geographic Wild Channel in Israel is presenting Shark Fest, a marathon of shark-related programming beginning on July 3. The twist in recent years is that now they focus on these creatures as animals threatened by human hunters, who are just doing what comes naturally – and not as evil monsters.
It kicks off with Shark Beach with Chris Hemsworth, the Australian actor who is starring in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder with Natalie Portman, who provides a certain amount of eye candy, especially when coupled with the tropical settings. Hemsworth goes diving in the Western Atlantic to see nurse sharks, a species that are generally peaceful around humans but which can be extremely large. He is guided on part of his expedition by veteran nature photographer and conservationist Valerie Taylor, who is still swimming with sharks well into her 80s. The petite Taylor, dressed in a hot-pink wetsuit, calms Hemsworth’s fears as they search for the sharks in murky waters.
The Hemsworth show is the best of the bunch, and many of the rest of the shows are about shark attacks, which are interesting but can get pretty gory, so viewers should be prepared. Since most shark-attack victims tend to be young, fit and tan, there seems to be an endless appetite for these accounts on television. Orca vs. Great White is a less sensational and more informative program about how and why Orcas started attacking Great Whites off the coast of New Zealand. The Croc That Ate Jaws is similar and looks at the Everglades.
THE NATIONAL Geographic Channel (not to be confused with NatGeo Wild) will broadcast Genius: Aretha, part of its Genius series, which focuses on the life of Aretha Franklin, starting on July 5 at 9 p.m. The series stars Cynthia Erivo, who portrays the adult Queen of Soul convincingly without trying to imitate Franklin’s voice and mannerisms, and
Shaian Jordan, who is very winning as the young Aretha.
Although it may seem obvious that Aretha was destined to become a star, she struggled to find success in the music industry and did not make it until she figured out how to combine her gospel-influenced style with pop music. Courtney B. Vance gives the standout performance as her father, influential and controversial preacher C. L. Franklin who, in the words of one character, “loves Sunday mornings but also loves Saturday nights.” Too busy partying to supervise his 12-yearold daughter when he took her out to sing on the gospel circuit, she became pregnant and gave birth before her 13th birthday, which her father vowed would not stop her from succeeding in the music business.
Not surprisingly, she married an abusive man and she had to fight to free herself from him, in a similar story to Tina and Ike Turner. She also fought racism and tried to use her music to promote black rights.
While the story is compelling and the performances good all around, the series is both overly literal – a symbolic doll that stands for her lost innocence is dropped after encounters with racist thugs and seducers – and confusingly structured, jumping back and forth in time in ways that cannot mask the sometimes cliched nature of the script.
Franklin’s family members have protested the series, saying it gives a negative portrayal of the singer, and did not allow many of her most famous songs to be used, including “Respect.” Her family did cooperate with a movie version of her life, Respect, starring Jennifer Hudson, which is set to be released later this year.
FOR SOME reason, it’s not all that uncommon for two movies or television shows on the same topic to be made simultaneously, and two series were filmed last year about the Eti Alon bank embezzlement scandal, in which a bank clerk admitted to stealing more than NIS 250 million from the Trade Bank (now out of business) to pay gambling debts for her brother.
The Keshet version of Alon’s story, starring Chen Amsalem and Yaniv Swissa in the two lead roles, was released last fall and now Yes has just announced the release date for its Eti Alon series is July 29. The Yes version, called Embezzlement, is heavy on star power. Three-time Ophir Award-winner Dana Ivgy plays Eti and threetime Israeli Television Award winner, Yehuda Levi, is her brother.
While the Keshet series was more of a docu-drama, based around witness testimonies, the Yes version looks to be more fully dramatized. Film director Dover Koshashvili plays their father and Hanan Savyon, who starred in Maktub and Forgiveness, will portray Eti’s husband. The question is, is it worth seeing a second series about the case? Given the contrast between the size of the crime and the fact that such a low-level employee was able to pull it off and hide it for five years, I would say that it merits a second look. Just reading the press release made me check my bank balance.
FANS OF the series Shababnikim,
about a group of Jerusalem yeshiva students who can’t seem to stay out of trouble, will be happy to hear that the second season of the series will be airing on Hot 3 on July 25 and will start running on Hot VOD and NextTV on July 21.
Described as Entourage with black hats, the series stars some of Israel’s most popular actors, including Daniel Gad (who was in the Oscar-nominated short White
and the series Line in the Sand),
Ori Laizerouvich (The Last Band
Israel Atias (Topaz,
and Omer Perelman Striks