What do four Jewish American writers talk about when they sit down together to discuss their craft? If the program, "The Next Generation of Jewish American Writing," held at the Skirball Cultural Center earlier this month is any indication, the answer is that they try as hard as they can to talk past their differences but don't quite manage to do so.
Reality TV is nothing new. Since the dawn of television, there have always been unscripted formats and game shows of one kind or another. However, the current incarnation of reality programming -- shows such as "Survivor," "The Bachelor," and "Fear Factor" -- may be the most durable and successful shows in the history of reality programming. What's more, reality TV is the most innovative area of current programming, far more creative than sitcoms, hour-long dramas, sports, news or movies and miniseries. In fact, it may be helpful to think of current reality shows as game shows or "event programming" much like the highly touted TV movies of the 1970s and '80s.
I learned all this and more when I attended a recent panel at The Museum of Television and Radio in Beverly Hills called, "Keeping it Real: The Past, Present and Future of Reality Television."
7 Days In The Arts
"Under Radar" by Michael Tolkin (Atlantic Monthly Press, $23).
Recently, I heard Michael Tolkin speak at Temple Beth Am about "Under Radar." Pacing frenetically, he explained that midway through the writing he had stalled and shelved the manuscript. During that time, slipping on his own spiritual path -- parallel to the novel's -- he had ransacked various synagogues for answers and had succeeded only in worrying his wife.
It used to be said that kabbalah should only be studied by the very old or very learned, otherwise it could inspire madness. In his book "Practical Kabbalah: A Guide to Jewish Wisdom in Everyday Life," Rabbi Laibl Wolf attempts both to dispel the mythology surrounding this ancient, mystical teaching and to demonstrate its necessity for those of us living in the modern world.