It's 'Fiddler' – No Doubt
"Fiddler on the Roof's" cool factor has gone up several notches thanks to the work of Gwen Stefani. The No Doubt singer's second single off her debut solo album "Love.Angel.Music.Baby" is "Rich Girl," a reworking of Fiddler's "If I Were A Rich Man."
Stefani said it was rapper and producer Dr. Dre's idea for her to use the song, which is actually an update of Louchie Lou and Michie One's song of the same name. Dre produced the song, which also features rapper Eve. The song reunites the three artists, who first collaborated on 2001's "Let Me Blow Ya Mind."
Replacing Tevye's famous "daidle deedles" and "biddy bums" are more mainstream friendly "na na nas," and the other chorus lyrics have been changed as well:
"If I was a rich girl/ See I'd have all the money in the world, if I was a wealthy girl./No man could test me, impress me, my cash flow would never ever end./'Cause I'd have all the money in the world, if I was a wealthy girl."
Still, Stefani said she took seriously the idea of using a song from another genre that was already so well known. "The weight was really on my shoulders, because the song has so much history... I was like, Oh God, how am I going to make all this work," she told VH1.com.
But with the No. 29 spot on the American Top-40 last week, it appears she figured it out. – Keren Engelberg, Contributing Writer
Portman Goes Native
Principal photography begins this month on Israeli director Amos Gitai's new film, "The Free Zone," and stars Israeli-born American actress Natalie Portman.
The actress will play Rebecca, a woman who jumps in a cab and runs away from the luxury hotel where she is staying after a fight with her mother-in-law. She befriends the cab driver, Hanna, played by Hanna Lazlo, and the road trip begins.
Portman recently received a Golden Globe award and best supporting actress Academy Award nomination for her role in "Closer," a dark film about the relationships between two couples.
"The Free Zone," by contrast, is described as a comedy. Past Portman roles have also been varied; she made her debut as a vampy 12-year-old in "The Professional," and went on to play Queen Amidala in the latest "Star Wars" films and a quirky epileptic in last year's "Garden State."
Portman is a Harvard grad, and has been studying at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem for the past few months.
"Living in Israel is really beautiful," she told the British Times. "One of the most shocking things is how peaceful it feels."
Shot in Israel and Jordan, the film will be Portman's first Israeli movie role.
Gitai has made numerous features and documentaries. He is perhaps best known for his cities trilogy, made up of "Devarim," "Yom Yom" and "Kadosh," presented in competition at Cannes. – KE
Director's Family Finally Makes the Cut
In other Portman news, last year's hit "Garden State" was released on DVD last month. The Zach Braff project – he wrote, directed and starred – stars Portman as the Jewish Jersey boy's love interest. Included in the DVD extras are some Jewishy scenes that wound up on the cutting-room floor, including two that featured family and friends.
Braff significantly edited down a shiva scene in the film, which accounts for three of the scenes resurrected for the DVD extras.
One, titled "Musical Themed Bar Mitzvah" features Braff's father, Hal Braff, as a Jewish father discussing with a fellow shiva caller the various bar mitzvah themes he's witnessed recently, including one Winter Wonderland theme that involved "live penguins everywhere wearing turquoise yarmulkes." He then goes on to complain about his son's embarrassing choice: Broadway musicals.
Another deleted portion of the shiva scene is titled "Talk to the Hand," and features some of Braff's family and friends, including his stepmother.
The third portion of the scene, "Mezuzah," shows Braff walking by a musical mezuzah that plays the Shema when its sensor goes off.
Braff discusses the difficulty of making these and other cuts in the director's commentary, and describes his father – a lawyer who did community theater – as "the first actor I ever really knew" and "one of the funniest people I know." – KE