Evan Handler is best known for his two “lighter” roles: Jewish divorce lawyer Harry Goldenblatt on “Sex and the City,” and Charlie Runkle, agent and friend to novelist Hank Moody (David Duchovny) on “Californication.”
These are highlights of a remarkable career that almost never was. At age 24, Handler was diagnosed with cancer, which he battled for four years. He recounted that period in two books: “Time on Fire: My Comedy of Terrors” and “It’s Only Temporary: The Good News and the Bad News of Being Alive,” both just reissued as e-books.
The Arty Semite caught up with Handler to talk about bargaining with God, fooling the Angel of Death, and what Marilyn Manson said about his genitals.
Curt Schleier: How did illness impact you?
When Philip Roth’s Alexander Portnoy discusses the arcane symbolism of his girlfriend eating a banana, or talks about time spent alone in the bathroom with women’s underwear hanging on the door, or any number of other things that can’t even be implied in the html of a family website, he is revealing his innermost “perversions” to his analyst, the things he’s repressed and sublimated and kept far away from public view; Nick Kroll’s Rodney Ruxin says the same things to his group of friends on “The League” every week and they celebrate him for it, and enjoy provoking him to see what invectives he’ll throw their way.
“The League” is an FX show about a group of 30-something high school friends in the Chicago area who continue to bond over fantasy football. The characters are ethnically diverse in the way of most North Shore Chicago suburbs (Poles and Protestants) and Ruxin, as the Jewish member, marks the ironic result of six decades of suburbanization by American Jews. He’s been raised in suburban American settings, and is accepted as a normal white American by his friends, but he’s simultaneously been brought up on a Jewish American culture that emphasized outsiderdom from general American society (30 years of Roth and Woody Allen) and has been permanently affected by the meta-criticism of Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld.
Casting has begun for an Israeli version of Sex and the City.
At ZEEK, Louis Greenspan re-discovers Jewish philosopher Salomon Maimon.
The New York Times discovers KlezKamp.
Ingrid Pitt, a British horror movie star and Holocaust survivor, has died.
Forget Jersey Shore. The hottest TV show of recent weeks – among a certain set, anyway – is “Srugim,” the Israeli program about a group of young, modern-Orthodox Jerusalemite singles. The religious version of Friends, if you will, or maybe even Sex and the City. Minus most the sex, of course.
Thanks to The Jewish Channel, “Srugim” is now available on American TV. The first episode appeared on February 1, and subsequent episodes will be aired weekly, starting tonight. Episodes are also being shown at the JCC in Manhattan on Wednesday nights, at a rate of two or three per week. And if you don’t live in New York, fear not. As Jewschool helpfully informs us, TJC is also available on cable.
Watch a promo for “Srugim” below, and read an interview with director Laizy Shapira here.