Posted by Danielle Berrin
Former “Tonight Show” writer Rob Kutner sent over this year’s Shushan Channel Purim spoof and it features none other than Lady Graga, the belle of the Purim ball. This annual tradition helmed by a group of Hollywood’s funniest Jews is a dazzling display of east meets west yid humor and if you stay until the end of the Megillah reading, you might even catch Lady Graga with her hamantaschens off.
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February 9, 2010 | 9:57 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
I met Quentin Tarantino for drinks last night at the Pig ‘N Whistle on Hollywood Boulevard while a double feature of “Pulp Fiction” and “Inglourious Basterds” played next door at The Egyptian. I was interviewing him for a story for our Oscar issue on the cultural significance of “Inglourious Basterds” when he offered up the following comment on what he learned while visiting Israel last Fall.
Here’s the thing that I did not know about Israel before I went there: I didn’t know—and truthfully I got turned on by it; I dug it, I really dug it—I didn’t know that every young person has to go into the army. I was unaware of that. The concept behind that I thought was awesome. To me, what it said was, (and he bangs his fists on the table) ‘You will NEVER ever catch us unawares again. NEVER. The prettiest most daintiest girl, the fattest boy, the littlest guy, the meekest mouse is gonna learn how to operate a gun and is gonna know what it means to be a WARRIOR. We will never be caught sleeping again!’ And that was COOL.
February 8, 2010 | 5:17 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Lori Gottlieb’s book, “Marry Him! The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough” is a polarizing piece of non-fiction. Singletons worldwide are up in arms over her call to abandon Mr. Right and look for Mr. Good Enough. Seems like swallowing the “settle” pill is just too hard for most women to stomach.
According to responses to the two articles I’ve written about her, one for The Journal, and the other for The Guardian, fans and foes are falling into two camps: those who think Gottlieb is a neurotic, desperate, extremist nut who should marry her psychiatrist—- and those (mostly women over 40) who think she is absolutely spot-on brilliant and that if only they had read her book when they were 25, they’d be married now.
To be fair, many of the complaints against Gottlieb have to do with the fact that she is dispensing marital advice without ever having been married. And as anyone who has been in a significant relationship knows, there are no rules when it comes to romance.
But if you’re itching for more Gottlieb “wisdom”, here’s an excerpt from my Guardian profile:
Lori Gottlieb is a 43-year-old single parent who desperately wants to be married. And she’s not ashamed to say so. She first aired her existential angst in an inflammatory 2007 essay for the Atlantic magazine called Marry Him! The Case For Settling For Mr Good Enough, in which she wrote, “Every woman I know – no matter how successful and ambitious, how financially and emotionally secure – feels panic, occasionally coupled with desperation, if she hits 30 and finds herself unmarried.”
That may have been a fate worse than death in 1950, but to put forward the same argument in 2007 seemed bizarre. Yet Gottlieb did her best to help her fellow singletons out of this hole. “My advice is this: settle! That’s right. Don’t worry about passion or intense connection. Don’t nix a guy based on his annoying habit of yelling ‘Bravo!’ in movie theatres. Overlook his halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics. Because if you want to have the infrastructure in place to have a family, settling is the way to go.” Whether it was a fixable problem like bad dress sense or the arguably more problematic absence of chemistry, she was uncompromising about compromising.
Her point was essentially an ancient bromide (don’t wait for perfection because you’ll be waiting for ever) dressed up as provocative 21st-century polemic. Even so, the article caused a sensation. In the weeks after publication, Gottlieb received more than 3,000 emails. While some married couples were grateful to be portrayed for once as hard-headed realists rather than dopey romantics, many more correspondents called her “pathetic”, “desperate” and “sad”.
It’s hard to imagine how this funny, self-deprecating woman could have provoked such outrage, but Gottlieb has a theory. “In our culture, we never want to admit how badly we want to be in a relationship because it makes us sound needy or weak,” she says. Although she is anything but repentant; indeed, she has now expanded her original thesis into a whole book that looks set to turn her into a hate figure all over again.
February 5, 2010 | 4:17 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Before it was released, “Inglourious Basterds” generated an uncommon amount of buzz for its daring as a Jewish revenge fantasy. Now, nearly six months after it first played in theaters, Quentin Tarantino’s World War II counter-history film has earned eight Oscar nominations, a likely place in cinematic history, and a distinguished presence in the hearts and minds of moviegoing Jews that until recently, was solely inhabited by Steven Spielberg.
And all it took was gunning down Hitler until his face exploded.
Last night at a special community screening at The Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance, internationally renowned rabbi Marvin Hier addressed the film’s growing cultural significance among a panel that included Tarantino, ‘Basterds’ producer Lawrence Bender, actor Eli Roth and media entrepreneur Dan Adler, who organized the evening in honor of his recently deceased father Mayer Michael Adler, a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
“Let me explain why I think it was a great idea to sponsor this film,” Hier said, addressing concerns from Holocaust survivors who were troubled by some of the film’s subject matter. “Not every film on the second World War has to be about the Holocaust.”
No one would argue that “Inglourious Basterds” is a traditional Holocaust movie, but it does presume a sophisticated knowledge of the Holocaust in order to grasp its emotional impact. Hier, who is an Oscar-winning filmmaker himself, said that historical accuracy is not a necessity in harnessing the power of cinematic fantasy. “This [film] has a certain release factor,” he said. “If only we would have been privileged to see the Nazis defeated early on; imagine that they were all gathered in a theater and we didn’t have to roll the clock until 1945 to find out that 6 million Jews plus millions of other individuals were killed by an insane man named Adolf Hitler.”
For many Jews, including Hier, the fact that ‘Basterds’ permits not only historical revisionism but also deep seeded Jewish revenge is psychologically satisfying. “I find it to be quite exciting,” Hier said. “The plot I thought was quite ingenious.” Though he did point out that there were, historically, several failed attempts on Hitler’s life, so the idea of an assassination mission is not implausible. Hier also spoke of Pinchas Rosenbaum, the son of a rabbi whose family was killed in Auschwitz and who successfully infiltrated the SS to avenge them.
Throughout the discussion, Tarantino maintained that his film was not meant to fulfill some higher purpose, but was born of his wild imagination and desire to write an adventure movie. Yet the experience of making and distributing ‘Basterds’ resonated more deeply for Bender and Roth, two Hollywood Jews who said they reconnected with their Judaism during production.
For Bender, the epiphany moment came during a screening of the film in Israel in which the audience heartily cheered the incineration of the Third Reich. “We’re sitting in an audience in Tel Aviv and I remember turning to Quentin and saying, ‘This is why we made this movie,’” Bender recalled.
Roth, who had the lucky task of killing Hitler on screen quipped, “Boy was my mother proud!” He said he became Tarantino’s “Jewish fact checker” and even had the director to his home to experience the Passover seder and “understand the Jews.” (Read, “My Son Killed Hitler,” by Roth’s father.)
“I really felt like I reconnected with my Judaism in a way that I had never experienced before in my life,” he said.
A bond developed between Tarantino and Roth, who became close friends and colleagues throughout production. Tarantino asked Roth, who is a director in his own right, to helm the Nazi propaganda meta-film that is shown in the final scene of the movie, which held great ironic significance for the young actor/director.
“This whole movie is about the literal and figurative power of cinema,” Roth said. “The movie theater is turned into a crematorium and the Nazis are burned at the hands of their own self aggrandizing creation.” He recalled the impact of the final scene on an audience in Berlin, Germany, where many still feel burdened by their national past.
“To see that there’s a generation of Germans that are so burdened by this they wanted to kill those characters as much as we did…so that any time a Nazi was killed, they felt like they were participating in the death of their past,” he recalled.
The catharsis of “Inglourious Basterds” works on multiple levels across a wide audience. During the audience Q-and-A, a Vietnam veteran confessed that he felt he “killed the wrong men” and admitted harboring deep regret about his role in Vietnam; a survivor questioned Tarantino’s handling of Holocaust subject matter as playful fodder; and yet others thanked the director for his gutsy vision.
That the film taps into the deep Jewish unconscious despite its historical play is, as Roth said, a testament to the power of film. For audiences and filmmakers alike, “Inglourious Basterds” is both primal wish fulfillment and an affirmation of Jewish identity – a new, bolder, empowered and Zionist Jew.
February 4, 2010 | 4:35 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Essayist and novelist Lori Gottlieb has a new book out with some tart advice for picky single women: “Settle!”
Just like that.
But while the book and her 2008 essay in The Atlantic have generated some heated controversy, the question on everybody’s mind is: What’s this single woman doing doling out marital advice? On The Today Show this morning, anchor Meredith Vieira asked Gottlieb point blank if she had found “Mr. Good Enough.”
Gottlieb eschewed an answer.
Of course, those of us who have read the book know that the closest Gottlieb got to Mr. GE was a two-month dating relationship with Sheldon, a man with a fondness for bowties. Unfortunately logistical complications drove them apart (he moved to Chicago) and Gottlieb is still single, still searching.
Here she talks about the importance of shared values, why falling in love doesn’t necessarily lead to a healthy marriage and why she blames feminism for messing up her love life.
Jewish Journal: Your book “Marry Him! The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough” makes the argument that women who want to get married and have children should give up their search for Mr. Right and settle.
Lori Gottlieb: I’m not asking women to stop looking for Mr. Right. I’m asking them to change their perception of who Mr. Right is. Women have to understand that what is actually going to make them happy in a marital relationship is very different than what will make them happy in a dating relationship.
JJ: Describe what you mean by settling.
LG: Settling is what our culture defines as getting less than everything we want. We think that settling is compromising our soul. But what most people consider settling is actually like the catch — the ‘8.’ I would never tell anybody to marry the loser schlub — that’s truly settling.
JJ: Are you saying that women should lower their expectations and look for a good partner rather than their romantic ideal?
LG: I don’t think they should lower their expectations at all. I think they need to look for qualities that are important — like shared values, kindness, responsibility — character things.
JJ: Choosing a partner based on values and not instant chemistry makes a pretty convincing case for arranged marriage, don’t you think?
LG: The lesson we can learn from arranged marriage is that the important things have to be there; whereas in our culture we think ‘We’re so in love, so of course we’re going to agree on how we raise the kids and run the household.’
JJ: Your 2008 essay in The Atlantic, which inspired the book, suggested that women shouldn’t worry about passion or intense connection. That doesn’t make relationships sound very appealing on a romantic level.
LG: True love develops over time. You may not have those butterflies on the first or second date. And a lot of us, if we don’t have it right then and there, give up. You do have to have passion and excitement at a certain point, but you have to give somebody a chance. People aren’t getting divorced because they settled; the divorce rate is high because people are marrying in this high state of chemistry and realize 10, 15 years later that they’re not compatible.
JJ: Why do you think people have reacted so vehemently to your message?
LG: I think it makes people really uncomfortable to hear a highly educated, very sophisticated woman saying, ‘You know, I’m really, really sad that I’m not married.’
JJ: You’ve compared marriage to a ‘boring nonprofit business.’ Why would anybody want that?
LG: It’s not that marriage is so boring, it’s that life is not this constant high of thrills and pixie dust. Marriage is about finding somebody that you want to go through life with — it’s not just about going Rollerblading together and we read the same books and we like ‘This American Life.’
JJ: Was your parents’ marriage a model for you?
LG: My parents have been married for 45 years, maybe more. It’s hard to compare our parents’ marriages [to the ones we’re looking for] because gender roles were so different then. Theirs is a traditional, ’50s kind of marriage, and women today are looking for a more egalitarian marriage when it comes to gender roles.
JJ: You’ve openly blamed feminism for the fact that women have impossible standards and a you-can-have-it-all sense of entitlement when it comes to finding a partner.
LG: Feminism as a social movement is a great thing, but feminism never wrote a dating manual. It never said this you-can-have-it-all thing can apply to your partner. A lot of us got tripped up by misapplying some of the empowerment of feminism into the realm of dating.
JJ: Some people have called your position antifeminist — and even ageist — for suggesting that single women over 35 are basically doomed, because, either there aren’t enough single men to go around, men that age prefer younger women or the older available men come with loads of unpleasant baggage.
LG: There is a reverse power curve. And women can be in denial and pretend the world doesn’t work that way, but we can’t change certain fundamental things about the way men and women are attracted to each other. I always found it unbelievably offensive that men had this thing about dating younger women, but if I could date men who were younger and had less baggage and were more appealing in that way, I totally would. It’s not so much that men are superficial and want women under 35 because they’re more attractive; the real issue for men is that they want biological families.
JJ: You do get that there’s a part of this that’s really scary and depressing for women of a certain age?
LG: Oh yeah! Oh, believe me, I get that. In the first third of the book I’m really getting hopeless about the whole situation. But what I came to realize was that as scary as it might seem, I’d rather look at the data so that I can make more informed choices.
JJ: Wouldn’t a man be offended to know you’ve settled for him? Wouldn’t he rather be the man of your dreams?
LG: Mr. Good Enough is the man of my dreams.
February 3, 2010 | 10:23 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
A memorial service scheduled for tomorrow in honor of Brittany Murphy has been postponed due to “family illness,” though some are suspicious of that announcement.
Sources say Murphy’s husband, Simon Monjack was soliciting donations of up to $1,000 for people to attend in order to raise money for The Brittany Murphy Foundation. The memorial, which was set to take place at Temple of the Arts at the Saban Theater, was scheduled to include performances by a host of Murphy’s friends, colleagues and fellow artists, including her “8 Mile” co-star rapper Eminem.
Rabbi David Baron, the spiritual leader of Temple of the Arts, who performed Murphy’s funeral last December, said Murphy and her mother had attended high holidays services there earlier this year. Although Murphy was not Jewish, Baron said, “She was a very spiritual person.” Despite not being affiliated with any particular religious movement, Murphy’s husband is Jewish and the two were married in a Jewish wedding. Baron said that Murphy found something in Judaism that resonated with her and that she loved the high holidays.
For now, the memorial is postponed, though Baron said he expects it will be rescheduled for a later date.
More from TMZ:
Simon Monjack had planned a huge launch party Thursday night for his new Brittany Murphy Foundation—an organization he claims is dedicated to arts education for children. Monjack had been reportedly soliciting $1,000 donations per person to attend.
But just days before the big night, someone called the Beverly Hills Temple of the Arts—where the event was supposed to go down—and told the Rabbi to hold the Manischewitz… because the party was off.
We’re told Monjack insists the party was simply postponed—but so far, no new date has been set.
UPDATE: TMZ has learned guests for the event received the following email from someone at the Brittany Murphy Foundation, “So sorry but the memorial has been canceled due to an illness in the family.”
We spoke with Rabbi David Baron, who was supposed to conduct the memorial, who told us when the call came in, the person who canceled never gave a reason.
February 3, 2010 | 4:36 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Mel Gibson is the gift that keeps on giving.
This morning, after another interviewer questioned whether public perception of Gibson has changed since his “anti-Semitic rant,” Gibson, who last week had a heated confrontation with KTLA reporter Sam Rubin, avoided a straight answer and said he’s done his “mea culpas.” Then, assuming his mic was off, Gibson concluded the interview by calling the reporter an “asshole.”
More Mel Gibson on Hollywood Jew:
Mel Gibson gets defensive when asked about his anti-Semitic past
Should the Jews boycott Mel Gibson’s new movie?
February 2, 2010 | 10:33 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
Harvey and Bob Weinstein may reunite with their long lost Miramax in a happy Hollywood ending sullied by a great deal of debt.
The Wrap is reporting that two hedge funds are interested in helping the brothers reclaim the independent film studio they created and named for their parents. During its heyday, Miramax became synonymous with Oscar hits and brought films like “The English Patient” and “Shakespeare in Love” to the culture.
The Weinsteins sold their baby to Disney in 1993 and continued to run the company until a nasty breakup in 2005. (Harvey and then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner famously feuded.) But it looks like things are coming full circle for the Weinsteins, whose current film outfit, The Weinstein Company is experiencing financial woes. Until now, TWC has not been able to replicate the megasuccess of Miramax but today’s 13 Oscar nominations for “Inglourious Basterds” and “Nine” certainly helped.
What the Weinsteins plan to do with two film companies in an erratic economic climate is of legitimate concern, but the Miramax library of 700 films could certainly help with their cash flow problems.
From The Wrap:
WaxWord reported this week that Summit Entertainment, Relativity Media, Studio Canal and billionaire Nelson Peltz were all among those showing interest in the studio with a library of 700 fims, but found the $700 million asking price too high.
“Here’s the issue everyone’s having: What do you do with the rights?” said one person interested in the deal. “Other than Harvey Weinstein, who knows how to do ‘Inglourious Basterds’?”
Under the expected terms of the deal, Disney would continue to run the library for a year after any purchase, but would then turn it over to the new owner for monetization. The new owner would have to strike a new set of output deals.
A Disney executive said they had no knowledge of the Weinstein brothers’ interest, but that in principle, despite the brutal divorce, saw no obstacle to them buying the studio.
One insider close to the deal said that the library produces about $300 million in annual revenue. But others who have looked at Disney’s financial information insisted that it was closer to $100 million.
One former Miramax executive said that a $300 million annual revenue figure seemed impossible.
“In the old days it was doing $85 million in a good year,” said the former executive.