Hollywood Now: New Spring TV Shows with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Leighton Meester & More

By Gerri Miller

February 22, 2017


On-Screen Rivalry

Catherine Zeta-Jones
Jurnee Smollett-Bell & Aisha Hinds. Credit: Steve Dietl/WGN


On March 8, Jurnee Smollett-Bell returns for the second season of WGN’s slavery-themed drama Underground, and the story finds her escapee character Rosalee in league with a famous historical figure, Harriet Tubman (Aisha Hinds). “Rosalee spent most of season one running away from the danger and in season two she’s running toward it. Harriet has taken her under her wing and become a mentor to help her get her family back,” says Smollett-Bell. “They challenge each other, and there’s times they agree and times they don’t agree on the method to the madness. But it’s really about learning from this great woman and trying to become her own warrior.”

The actress can look to her own ancestry for other exemplary role models. The daughter of an African-American mother and Jewish father with roots in Russia and Poland, she says, “I come from survivors. I come from revolutionaries.”

Returning to TLC March 5, the genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are? follows celebrities as they explore their ancestries, including Noah Wyle on March 26, who is from an interfaith family. Plus one actor who didn’t know she had any Jewish heritage: Jessica Biel discovers her Jewish roots in the April 2 episode. 

Bad Boy

Michael Vartan (Alias, Bates Motel), the France-born son of a Polish-Jewish mother and a Christian father of Armenian-Hungarian ancestry, returns to TV March 5 in the E! drama series The Arrangement in a role that’s a departure for him. He plays the controlling advisor to an actor (Josh Henderson), going as far as to make the star’s ingénue girlfriend sign a very strict contract.

“Mostly, I’ve been the good guy—the husband, the boyfriend. And this was an opportunity in my career to really play someone completely different, someone who’s flawed and complicated,” says Vartan. “Playing someone creepy and a little darker was really interesting because I’ve never had the chance to do that.” 


About Gerri Miller

Gerri Miller writes and reports from Los Angeles about celebrities, entertainment and lifestyle for MNN.com, The Jewish Journal, Brain World, Lupus Now, Scholastic.com and others. A New York native, she spent a summer working at Kibbutz Giv'at Brenner in Israel and attends High Holy Day services at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood every year.