Posted by Jana Banin, JTA
Just when you thought it was impossible for the very talented Lena Dunham to be amazing at one more thing, the prodigal filmmaker/author/actress has added another line to her resume: Really great friend.
The “Girls” creator is participating in Miranda July’s “We Think Alone” project, in which stars share their private e-mails. For this week’s installment, participants were asked to contribute “an email that gives advice.”
Dunham’s wise words are directed at her friend “K,” who is in what appears to be a troubled relationship.
You did nothing wrong. He is NOT NICE. He says not nice things in a nice voice so they seem nice but they are not. He isn’t kind or careful with you, he wants to suck the kindness out of you, and if he’s like this after 10 years of group therapy then G-d help us all. He’s not for you bc he’s not for anyone. Do you hear me? Good. I understand SO much the appeal, but he’s not worth your energy and someone like art guy may not be perfect or right but he’s starting on a good foot by offering some of himself to you and wanting to give you pleasureful times.
Not exactly the kind of thing you’d hear self-involved Hannah Horvath telling Marnie, is it? And what’s with the G-d spelling? Did Lena go to yeshiva or something?
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July 5, 2013 | 12:14 pm
Posted by Ryan Torok
Despite Internet rumors to the contrary, celebrity chef Paula Deen has not added the Jews to the list of groups she’s offended.
Concerns about the former television host’s alleged anti-Semitism have been making the rounds in the wake of the publication of the article, “Paula Deen Blames ‘The Jews’ for Firing,” by The Daily Currant, a satirical news site, on June 28. In the fake news article, Deen says “Jew executives” are responsible for her dismissal from The Food Network, exclaims, “It’s the Jews I can't stand” and even criticizes Jewish funnyman Jerry Seinfeld.
Snopes.com—a popular source for debunking misinformation spread online—confirms that the story about Deen and the Jews is false.
Over the past couple weeks, Deen has faced a storm of media criticism and repercussions after having admitting to previously using the N-word. She was dropped from the cooking channel that she has called home since 2002, lost a key endorsement deal and more, all because of last month’s release of a civil court document in which she says she used the racial slur.
It was these troubles that inspired the Currant story.
“Deen, 66, was a guest of morning host Dave Garver on Atlanta radio station WTMI when she claimed ‘Jew executives’ deliberately abandoned her in the wake of the controversy, which stemmed from a discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee against her company,” The Currant reported.
On its website, the Currant describes itself as an "online satirical newspaper...our mission is to ridicule the timid ignorance which obstructs our progress, and promote intelligence - which presses forward."
July 3, 2013 | 3:36 pm
Posted Jewish Journal
June 30, 2013 | 9:55 am
Posted by Tom Tugend
Here’s a little quiz: Suppose a movie titled “Aliyah” came out; what would you expect to be its main theme? The answer would probably depend on the time period.
In the 1920s and ’30s, “Aliyah” would have been about Diaspora Jews settling in Palestine, where they became bronzed pioneers transforming the Hula swamps into fertile farmland.
In the 1950s, the film might have been about Holocaust survivors coming to the newly established Israel, where they built new lives after the horrors of the past.
In 2013, “Aliyah” is about the interior struggles of a French-Jewish drug pusher who thinks he might make something of his life by joining his cousin in opening a restaurant in Tel Aviv.
There are no heroes or heroics in the contemporary “Aliyah,” and despite the risky occupation of Alex Raphaelson as a retail hashish dealer, there are no shootouts or car chases.
Alex and his circle of relatives represent a different breed of Jews, neither shtetl dwellers nor doctors or bankers, and they live in a shabby working-class district of Paris, worlds removed from the Louvre and the Champs-Élysées.
In addition to his occupational hazards, Alex, portrayed by the rising French actor Pio Marmai, has other problems.
Foremost is his older brother Isaac, forever hitting up Alex for “loans” to pay off unnamed underworld characters, who will otherwise carve up the hapless Isaac.
Furthermore, Alex has just been dumped by Esther, a Hebrew teacher at a local religious school, who has become engaged to a more stable guy.
When a cousin, who had earlier left Paris to serve in the Israeli army, talks of his plans to open a trendy restaurant on the Tel Aviv waterfront, Alex announces that he wants in on the deal and, to everyone’s surprise, will make aliyah and live in Israel.
That, according to the film, is not as easy as in decades past, when any Jew was automatically welcomed.
Now a shaliach (emissary) tells a group of applicants that they must learn Hebrew, serve in the army if they are of military age, have no criminal record and prove they are indeed Jewish.
This transformation of a rather indifferent Jew into a worthy future citizen of the Jewish state could have been played for broad laughs (as part of the test, Alex is asked to name some of the Jewish holidays), but that is not the style of the movie or of its director, Elie Wajeman.
Despite the tests and the unanimous opinion of his drug trade colleagues and relatives that he must be out of his mind (one warns that “a lot of Jews together can be a drag”), Alex perseveres.
He digs into his family background to prove that he’s Jewish, dutifully takes Hebrew lessons and must pull off one final really big job to raise money for his partnership share in the Tel Aviv restaurant.
The biggest complication, though, is a new relationship with Jeanne, the only major non-Jewish character in the film. She is smart enough to guess Alex’s “profession” and see through his hang-ups, but can’t help falling madly in love with him. “I like clumsy guys,” she explains. “They move me.”
The film ends in Tel Aviv as Alex gets acquainted with a cross-section of his new hometown in an extended bus ride.
In keeping with the film’s nonjudgmental tone, it doesn’t reveal whether Alex adjusts to his new country, marries a nice Israeli girl and conquers the demons and hang-ups within him.
Most published reviews of “Aliyah” have ranged from positive to outright enthusiastic, with major critics — as well as this reviewer — taken by the psychological perceptiveness and atmosphere of the film.
A number of bloggers have been less supportive, citing their disappointment with the lack of high-octane action, a generally somber tone and the incessant cigarette smoking.
Whatever the view, the film draws great strength from its excellent young cast. Complementing the dark and handsome Marmai are auteur Cédric Kahn as the pathetic Isaac, and Adele Haenel as the perceptive and ardent Jeanne.
“Aliyah” is in French and Hebrew, with English subtitles. It continues at Laemmle’s Music Hall in Beverly Hills through July 4.
June 25, 2013 | 10:39 am
Posted by Jana Banin, JTA
Thanks to the cultural gem that is “Princesses: Long Island,” lately the term “JAP” has been bandied around with a vigor that hasn’t been seen since the lavish bat mitzvah and nose job-filled days of our adolescence.
If you’re not happy about this development, you’re not alone. Donald Silverman, father of JAC (Jewish American Comedian) Sarah Silverman, finds it infuriating that anyone would proudly own a label that implies they are materialistic and shallow.
In fact, anyone who does this is “being an asshole,” he told HuffPost Live.
While Silverman’s four daughters and five grandchildren “don’t wear jewelry or drive new cars,” we don’t doubt Silverman’s expertise in this area. He was skyped into the interview from Boca Raton, after all.
June 21, 2013 | 1:35 am
Posted by Rob Eshman
They finally put the LA in LAX.
Five years ago, if someone had invited you to a black tie party at the Tom Bradley International Terminal, you’d think they were being ironic. The main international terminal at the country’s third largest airport had all the sophistication and charm of a school hallway.
Fast forward to Thursday night, June 20, when 1000 guests walked past a partition of curtains and down a red carpet and entered the new “TBIT,” as it’s been rechristened. It is a sleek, futuristic space, bejeweled with giant video installations and tricked out with the world’s best retailers and some of LA’s finest restaurants.
I swung an invite to the preview of the TBIT at Los Angeles International Airport. It kind of helps when the chairman of my newspaper board also happens to be Peter Lowy, the co-CEO of the Westfield Group, the company that developed the concessions inside the terminal.
The evening itself had the feel of a Hollywood premiere, with about 100 times more security. Guests in their evening wear arrived by shuttle vans from a satellite parking lot, and threaded their way through passengers in sweat pants schlepping excess luggage.
The entrance to TBIT was lined with models in suitably tight dresses offering pretty drinks along the way. They were as show-stopping as the bomb-sniffing Belgian malinois that stood by their handlers.
Just at the entrance to the terminal, a massive video display of falling water provoked initial oooohs and ahhs. Then the terminal opened up—a vast space of arched white roofs and glass. As much iron went into this terminal, so the brochure says, as would go into two Eiffel Towers. But the big visual deal are those video screens—screens the size of football fields it seemed—displaying stunning images of surf, stars, Big Ben-like clocks, dancing girls. Jaw-dropping stuff.
The terminal itself is a place to seriously shop. Gucci, Burberry, Kitson, and, in a nod to LA, Fred Segal are interspersed with numerous other high-end retailers and duty free stores. Even the duty-free tilts to the highest end: the display at the liquor shop offered a 50 year-old Glenfiddich single malt scotch and a bottle of rare Chinese rice wine for $17,000.
The food was the biggest upgrade, from my point of view. That because while you can find Gucci anywhere, Westfield wisely tapped restaurants that either originated in LA or cook as if they did. So, as you wait in the future for your El Al flight, you can check out Umami Burger, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, The Larder, Border Grill, Chaya, LaMill Coffee, Marmalade, 800 Degrees, Ink Sack or some of the non-LA offerings: III Forks from Dallas, Petrossian Caviar, Vino Volo. There was also, of course, Panda Express. But the chef dishing out its vegetarian eggrolls assured me, “This is the high end Panda Express.”
Many of the restaurants turned out for the event with endless bites for the guests. Border Grill’s founders Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger were there serving plantains, rice and beans, as well as ceviche. The Larder at Tavern offered sandwiches of burrata and rapini. Chaya made tuna tartare. InkSack, Michael Voltaggio’s lunchtime place, offered fried chicken sandwiches. And those Panda Express eggrolls? Not bad.
Westfield didn’t design the interior, but it did reconfigure the shopping to give the terminal the feel of a high-end urban mall, not a way station serving 4,000 passengers per hour.
“This is a perfect example of public-private partnership,” Peter Lowy said in a short speech to the crowd. “Sometimes government really works.”
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took the stage and pronounced the terminal the best in the United States, if not the world. Across from where he stood, in the grand hall, a sign proclaimed this the Villaraigosa Hall—so he may be biased.
But the mayor spread the credit: to Lowy and Westfield, to Gina Marie Lindsey, the 5 foot tall powerhouse executive of Los Angeles World Airports who is overseeing what is the largest public works project in LA history, and to the airport commissioners, headed by Michael Lawson.
There’s still a ways to go before the TBIT opens. If the preview came before the actual premiere, that may be because the mayor leaves office July 1, and he wanted to rightly be the one to open the project he managed to pushed through.
“I want to see us celebrate this great town,” he said, before the Hollywood Scoring Orchestra played a tribute to him entitled, “Portale.”
The evening continued, with composer David Foster and some former American Idols entertaining the crowd. I left as a young Korean man was onstage singing Italian opera. I grabbed a chocolate chip cookie from a model holding a silver tray, smiled at the bomb-sniffing shepherd, and made my way back out to the old terminal. There, exhausted passengers slunked across dirty floors to join ever-lengthening lines—with no idea of the terminal just beyond the curtain.
June 18, 2013 | 10:35 am
Posted by Ryan Torok
Actor Jeff Garlin ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") was released from a Van Nuys jail yesterday, at approximately 7:30 a.m., according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) website.
An incident that sounds like it’s straight out of “Curb,” Garlin--who has also appeared on television show “Arrested Development” and co-starred with comedienne Sarah Silverman in the film “I Want Someone to East Cheese With”–apparently became too heated during an argument over a parking space at CVS drugstore in Studio City, Variety reported.
The 51-year-old comedian-actor was arrested on Saturday, June 15, by Los Angeles Police Department’s North Hollywood division, according to the LASD.
Garlin will be “interviewed by city prosecutors, but he will not appear in court on the matter,” according to studiocity.patch.com.
He posted $20,000 in bail, according to LASD.
June 14, 2013 | 1:49 pm
Posted by Joe Winkler, JTA
Last week was the 84th birthday of Anne Frank, as well as anniversary of the first post in her diary in which she famously wrote, “I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.”
First published in 1947, “The Diary of A Young Girl,” was an immediate sensation — not only for the impressive writing, but for the stark description of life in hiding. The book has had a storied history since then, winning a Pulitzer Prize, earning worldwide accolades, and drawing royalty to performances of the stage version. Not everyone was enthused by the performance, however. In 1957, Parisian officials would not allow the play to run for fear that Germans would feel slighted by the performance. Moreover, the play became a lightning rod for anti-Semitism, attracting neo-Nazis throughout the world to disrupt performances.
Still, the book has become a staple of school curricula, though even this has sparked controversy. In the United States, the religious right found the book offensive for portraying different religions in a pluralistic manner. Some parents went so far as to pull their children from class the days the diary would be read. In 2009, Hezbollah pressured a private school in Beirut to remove snippets of the diary from its curriculum.
Perhaps most interestingly, the diary was used by prosecutors to convict the Nazi officers who deported Jews out of Holland to concentration camps.
With time, Anne Frank became a universal symbol of hope and the desire for freedom. In 1961, President Kennedy honored Anne Frank and explained that she gave the world …
… a gift that will survive her enemies…Of the multitude who throughout history have spoken for human dignity in times of great suffering and loss, few are more compelling than that of Anne Frank. Her humor, her humanity and her hope illuminate the hearts of men heavily clouded by the apparent willingness of those who seek power and domain over the soul of man to again deprive people of the right to live in peace, tolerance and freedom.
In 1994, appearing at the opening here of an exhibition about the life of Anne Frank, South African President Nelson Mandela said: ”The victory of the democratic forces in South Africa is a contribution to this worldwide effort to rid humanity of the evil of racism. It is Anne Frank’s victory. It is an achievement of humanity as a whole.”