True crime, getting in Gere, and women flying high

If you enjoyed seeing Richard Gere playing an elderly, Jewish con man then you may get a kick out of watching him portray a young hustler in the movie that made him a star, 'American Gigolo.'

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October 19, 2017 17:49
3 minute read.
True crime, getting in Gere, and women flying high

. (photo credit: COURTESY OF HOT)

 
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It’s been nearly 30 years since the Menendez brothers murdered their wealthy parents in Beverly Hills, and that case is now the subject of a reboot of the Law & Order franchise. The series starts airing on HOT 3 on October 25 at 8:45 p.m. and on HOT VOD.

It was a grisly crime. The parents were shot dozens of times, and the sullen brothers, who claimed they committed the murders because their father molested them and their mother allowed it, were not especially sympathetic defendants. In fact, the police did not initially consider them suspects; but when they spent huge amounts of their parents’ money during the weeks following the killings, detectives became suspicious.

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The brothers were tried separately, and both of the juries were deadlocked. In subsequent trials, the brothers were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. With all this drama, it’s understandable that Dick Wolf, the creator of Law & Order, would choose the case for the series’ first foray into true crime. He has brought together a who’s who of TV royalty in the cast. Edie Falco, whom you may remember as Carmela on The Sopranos and for Nurse Jackie, plays Leslie Abramson, the defense lawyer who argued that the brothers had suffered a lifetime of severe abuse. Chris Bauer, who is currently appearing in The Deuce and had roles on The Wire and True Blood, plays Abramson’s husband. Josh Charles, who was Will on The Good Wife and also had key roles in Masters of Sex and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, is the psychologist in whom one of the brothers confided. Sam Jaeger, who played Joel on Parenthood, is a detective. The cast also features Elizabeth Reaser (Mad Men, The Good Wife) and Josh Stamberg (The Affair, Parenthood).

Based on the first episode to be released, the series, which features the trademark Law & Order bongs, has its moments, but it suffers from a lack of likable characters. It made me long for the days when Jerry Orbach ruled the streets on the original (and still the best) Law & Order series.

If you enjoyed seeing Richard Gere playing an elderly, Jewish con man in Joseph Cedar’s film Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, then you may get a kick out of watching him portray a young hustler in the movie that made him a star, American Gigolo. It’s airing on October 21 at 8:30 p.m. on HOT Prime. The sexy, noir drama features an often shirtless Gere as an extremely sought-after male escort who beds wealthy women in Los Angeles and gets framed for a murder. It was written and directed by Paul Schrader, who is best known as the screenwriter of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. Schrader grew up in a strict Protestant sect that wouldn’t allow its members to see movies and he went movie crazy when he grew up, becoming a screenwriter/ director.

Although the story falls apart in the last third, it’s still fun to watch.

Lauren Hutton plays a lonely wife who may or may not be trustworthy. Another actress in the film, Nina van Pallandt, was best known for her real-life role as Clifford Irving’s mistress, whose testimony helped convict him of forging Howard Hughes’s autobiography in the 1970s.

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But it is Gere’s movie from start to finish, and no matter what you think of the hero’s morals (or lack of them), he commands the screen with his combination of sexiness, vulnerability and arrogance.

On October 25 at 9 p.m., YES Docu will begin airing The Female Pilots, a fascinating five-part series that looks at the little-known but growing numbers of young women who serve as pilots in the Israeli Air Force. It will also be shown on YES VOD.

It’s well worth watching, and the Hebrew is not difficult. One of the young women is actually an English speaker.

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