Samberg’s Surprise Interfaith Roots
Celebrities looking for answers to questions about their genealogy turn to Henry Louis Gates Jr. and his PBS series Finding Your Roots, which returns for its fifth season January 8. In the premiere episode, Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin learns he has surprise Jewish ancestry, and Andy Samberg, who grew up in a Jewish family, discovers that his heritage is actually interfaith.
Samberg’s mother, who was adopted as a baby, had tried and failed to find her birth parents over the years. All she knew about her mother was that she was Jewish, born in Germany, and had an aunt who became a well-known singer. Not only were researchers able to discover Marjorie’s mother’s identity, they also traced her birth father to a Sicilian-born sailor who had met her mother in San Francisco. Thanks to the series’ sleuthing, Samberg and Marjorie were able to meet members of their Italian-Catholic family.
Samberg, whose sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine returns for its sixth season on a new network, NBC, on January 10, co-hosts the Golden Globe Awards with Sandra Oh on January 6, also on NBC.
New Year, New Celeb Marriages
Josh Bowman and Emily VanCamp met on the series Revenge, where they played a married couple. Now they’re married for real. Bowman, who is Jewish on his father’s side, and VanCamp, who is not Jewish, tied the knot in the Bahamas on December 15. Bowman co-stars with Christina Ricci and Judith Light in the Lifetime movie Escaping the Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story, about the famous journalist’s efforts to expose horrors at a mental hospital. It premieres January 19. VanCamp’s series The Resident returns to Fox with new episodes on January 14.
Meghan Trainor and Daryl Sabara were married before 100 friends and family members at their Los Angeles home on December 22, Trainor’s 25th birthday. Mutual pal Chloe Grace Moretz played matchmaker for Trainor, who is Christian, and Sabara, who is Jewish, in 2016, and Tommy Bruce, Trainor’s manager, served as the officiant at the wedding. “I’m a wifey for lifey! Best birthday ever!!!!!!” Trainor posted on Instagram. “Thank you for everyone who helped make it happen…I Love you forever and always.”
Valley of the Boom
Set in Silicon Valley in the 1990s, the National Geographic limited series Valley of the Boom, premiering January 13, tells three stories of skyrocketing success and spectacular failure in the early days of the internet. One of them chronicles the rise of the social network TheGlobe.com, which college students Todd Krizelman and Stephan Paternot founded a decade before Facebook. Australian actor Dakota Shapiro delved into research to prepare to play Paternot.
“What’s amazing about the time in which the show takes place is … this is a time period in which the [feeling toward] the internet was completely optimistic. None of this cynicism existed yet for it,” he says. “We’re just seeing the birth and the ideas and the idealism behind it. If people want to tune in and see something really unique, they should check it out,” he says of the series, which he considers his big break. His sole previous credit was a guest role on The Affair, though he has been preparing for an acting career since he moved to Los Angeles to attend a performing arts high school at 14. “My parents saw that I was really passionate about it,” he says.
Shapiro is Jewish on his father’s side, a descendant of Russian grandparents who immigrated to South Africa, while his mother is American of British heritage. His parents met in India, where his mother was traveling with her then-fiancé and his father was studying with a spiritual teacher. “My father saw my mother dancing and he fell in love with her. I was unplanned but they went to Australia to raise me,” he says. While his parents are not religious, he has fond memories of visits to his grandparents in South Africa, where he enjoyed celebrating Jewish holidays with them, and “enjoyed the community and spirit of it.”