Good news for those who’ve missed the very critical comments Simon Cowell doled out on American Idol and The X Factor: He’s joined the judges’ table on America’s Got Talent this season, which premieres May 31 on NBC. Cowell was offered the gig five years ago but had other commitments, and he says, “This felt like perfect timing. It was worth the wait to come back to this. It’s a lot of fun. Judging dogs is easier than singers.” But auditioners beware: He hates clowns. “They’re never funny,” he declares.
Cowell, the son of a Christian mother and a father with Polish-Jewish roots on his maternal side, has been connecting more with those roots since he met Jewish producer Lauren Silverman and especially since the birth of their son Eric in February 2014. The boy is named for Simon’s late dad.
Saturday Night Live alumna Maya Rudolph returns to her sketch comedy-variety roots, teaming up with Martin Short in Maya & Marty, a blend of musical numbers, skits and celebrity guests that premieres on NBC May 31. Rudolph, whose father was Jewish (her mother, singer Minnie Riperton, was not), is herself in an interfaith relationship with director Paul Thomas Anderson, with whom she has four children. As for her relationship with Short, “He’s such a great collaborator,” she says. “Because we both come from sketch and improv, we’re used to being part of a team. We’re used to working with people who make us laugh. So I got lucky.”
Starting May 27, Adam Sandler stars opposite David Spade in the exclusive-to-Netflix comedy The Do-Over, about two friends who decide to escape their ho-hum lives by faking their deaths and creating new identities. Happily married in real life, Sandler and his wife, Jackie Titone—who converted to Judaism before they wed in 2003—have two daughters, Sadie and Sunny.
Scott Wolf Studies Up
Scott Wolf, back as chief surgeon Scott Clemmens in the third season of the NBC medical drama The Night Shift on June 1, has played doctors twice before, but still finds medical jargon tricky—reminiscent of preparing for his bar mitzvah. “It’s like your Torah portion. They’re equally challenging,” says Wolf, who was raised in an “extremely Reform” Jewish family. He is in an interfaith marriage with wife Kelley, and they’re raising their three kids with both Judaism and Christianity.
“My dad remarried a woman who wasn’t Jewish so we had both traditions and I kind of love that. You get the best of both worlds. Christmas and Hanukkah. More presents—my children are in favor of that,” he laughs, adding, “It’s important to me that they understand all the customs and traditions.”