Photo: Trae Patton/NBC
The last time we saw Ben Feldman, he’d just cut off one of his nipples. Now, he’s head-over-heels in love with a girl he spied — but never met — years earlier at a rock concert.
Perhaps an explanation is in order.
For the last three seasons, Feldman has played Michael Ginsberg, the somewhat acerbic, somewhat crazy Jewish copywriter on “Mad Men.” Ginsberg chose a most unusual way to declare his love for a co-worker.
Starting October 2 (and every Thursday forever thereafter, he hopes), he’s Adam Laughlin on “A to Z,” the besotted bachelor who believes in destiny and true love and a more traditional approach to wooing. The object of his affection is Zelda Vasco (Cristin Milioti), an attorney whose hippie, multi-partner mother soured her on the idea of romance.
The show’s pilot, at least, is funny and sweet and if nothing else an antidote to television zombies. It is also more than a little reminiscent of “(500) Days of Summer,” a similarly themed romance that at least in the cinema ended badly.
According to the voiceover here though, Andrew and Zelda go out for “eight months, three weeks, five days and one hour.” After winning kudos for her role in the Broadway musical “Once,” Miloti went on to become the title character in “How I Met Your Mother,” an issue that took nine seasons to resolve. So it may take a while to find out what the end of that near nine-month period has to offer.
In the meantime, Feldman spoke to the Forward about “the one,” defending a Jewish character’s right to be a little nuts, and going all-in on a bar mitzvah or not having one at all.
Curt Schleier: Do you believe in “the one”?
If you’re anything like me, you’re currently anticipating a period of intense mourning: After seven magical, addictive seasons, “Mad Men” is coming to an end. Soon.
Season 7 of the award-winning show may be airing in two parts a la “Breaking Bad,” but it’s a sad reality that by close to this time next year, Don, Peggy, Joan, Roger, Betty, Sally, Pete, and all the other characters we’ve come to know and love (and yes, hate — I’m looking at you, Megan) will be but a distant memory to be revisited on Netflix in moments of nostalgia.
“Mad Men” is nominally the tale of Don Draper, 1960s ad man. But that only scratches the surface of what has morphed into one of the most carefully crafted, framed and nuanced shows on TV. “Mad Men” is the story of America. “Mad Men” is the story of a generation. “Mad Men” is the story of women. And “Mad Men” is the story of the Jews.
It’s no coincidence that the very first episode includes a rather shocking display of anti-Semitism: We’ve hardly even gotten to know Don when a slick, 1959 Roger strides into his office to ask: “Have we ever hired any Jews?” Don’s deadpan answer is even more revealing: “Not on my watch.”
Almost ten fictional “Mad Men” years later, we’ve come a long way. Sterling Cooper & Partners (formerly Sterling Cooper then Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, then Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, Cutler Gleason & Chough) has a full-time Jewish copywriter, the ever-neurotic Michael Ginsberg; Peggy has dated a Jewish man; Roger married a Jewish secretary (and then divorced her), and Don has acquired a taste for Jewish mistresses. The company courts Manischewiz as a serious client (and then gets fired). The Jews have arrived. We are, as it were, the perfect example illustrating Don’s signature line: “If you don’t like what they’re saying, change the conversation.”
And so, in honor of our favorite TV show, we bring you the definitive guide of Jewish “Mad Men” moments.
Season 1: Jews are out
1.“Have we ever hired a Jew?”
Advertising, it’s fair to say, is in Ben Feldman’s blood.
Yes, he technically plays a fictional advertiser, the Jewish copywriter in AMC’s award-winning drama “Mad Men.” But Feldman says it was his excellent marketing skills that landed him the role.
“The casting loved that I was a Jew in real life,” Feldman told JTA. “They were looking for the typical character, a Jew with a heavy accent, and I played it up for all it was worth.”
A 32-year-old traditional Jew from Washington, Feldman is best known as the token MOT on “Mad Men”: the terrible blazer-wearing, Brooklyn-accent talking, shamelessly outspoken Michael Ginsberg.
Feldman’s first acting gigs were in off-Broadway plays. Eventually he scored roles in TV shows such as “CSI” and “Living with Fran,” as well as in small films.
He thought he was about to hit it big when he moved to Los Angeles for a sitcom produced by Adam Sandler titled “The Mayor.” Feldman starred in the pilot, but the show never aired and eventually was dropped, providing the struggling actor a crash course in the capriciousness of the entertainment industry.
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