Posted by Danielle Berrin
Loyal blog readers know The Calendar Girls drew a whopping dose of flak from community members angered by our review of last summer’s “Justice Ball,” Bet Tzedek’s uber-hyped summer fundraising party, heavily attended by young lawyers.
Dikla and I think Bet Tzedek is one of the most deserving recipients of Jewish philanthropic money, but that doesn’t mean the relationship isn’t a bit tense after our critical post. To be clear, we were criticizing the party NOT the organization.
Still, I had to think twice when I attended their largest fundraiser of the year last week, Bet Tzedek’s Annual Dinner Gala (which I wrote about in The Circuit this week), when I found myself assigned to a nosebleed table in the outskirts of a 1300-person crowd. Eh, nothing a glass of wine or a piece of challah couldn’t ameliorate - only there was no wine on this table, or challah, or salad for that matter.
I approached a woman on the waitstaff and asked if there was a reason that my forgotten neighbors and I were bereft of food.
“We were given a list,” she said. “We were told not to put food on that table.”
Past demons reemerge to haunt me.
Since I really wanted to make amends with Bet Tzedek, The House of Justice, I went right up to the development director and basically said, “I’m hungry.”
Then I got myself a nice ringside seat at a board member’s table. All the better for my column. All the better for my column on Bet Tzedek.
Another evening highlight was running into Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher at the bar. Ms. Moore’s lawyer, Kevin Marks was being feted with a major award and his other client, Tom Waits provided the evening’s entertainment.Now is it just me or is Demi wearing a Star of David?
8.18.08 at 2:26 pm | Hollywood producer/talent manager Joan Hyler. . .
8.15.08 at 7:21 pm | Just when you thought there couldn't possibly be. . .
8.14.08 at 6:37 pm | In town to promote her new book, House Speaker. . .
7.18.08 at 3:03 pm | The new Contemporary Jewish Museum in San. . .
6.25.08 at 10:36 am | Jina, our Calendar intern, is heading to an. . .
6.24.08 at 11:18 am | A clandestine love affair at a girls seminary. . .
January 31, 2008 | 11:28 am
Posted by Dikla Kadosh
What causes 50,000 movers, shakers and professional party hoppers to briefly descend on the tiny town of Park City, Utah (Pop 7,000) for just over a week every year? The greatest 10 day long party, artistic, cultural and networking event in the United States: The Sundance Film Festival! Celebrities stroll the snow covered streets in knit caps and scarves looking more like the kids from âSouth Parkâ then tinsel-town royalty. Lavish parties, screenings, schmoozing and deal-making abound in whatâs been called a winter version of mardi-gras, spring break and summer camp for the entertainment industry all rolled into one.
Here is Aaron’s ordered summary of the festivities:
Top 11 Observations, Rumors & Revelations about the Sundance Film Festival:
11. Long underwear: your new best friend
Park City is fearsomely cold. Itâs a coldness that freezes the very air around you and bites every bit of exposed flesh. Wear gloves, hats and scarves, but most importantlyâ¦ get comfy with long underwear.
10. In Utah, otherwise normal people will act like sycophantic peons in the presence of celebrities
At a party Woody Harrelson attended, frantic organizers scurried around with trays, nervously barking into their headsets: âRaw Foods! Raw Foods Coming Through! Raw Foods for Woody!” They ran as if they were frightened natives and Woody was a deity who might cover their village in molten lava if they took too long to appease him.
9. The events: partying is such sweet sorrow
Itâs true. The parties at Sundance are legendary. There are between 10-20 major and minor parties every single day. You can start at 10 am and party until 10am the next day. You can rub elbows (and even other body parts) with celebrities. But after a while, you become exhausted and actually start dreaming of returning to work as an antidote to the disease of post-party(um) depression.
8. The films: if youâre patient, youâll get to see them at home
Yes, there are scores of independent films shown at Sundance. Most of them are screened for industry companies to purchase and as part of the Sundance competition. Once in a while youâll have a breakout success like âNapoleon Dynamiteâ or âLittle Miss Sunshine.” But if you wait two months, youâll be able to see them in L.A. theaters and on DVD.
7. Dating: all dressed up and nowhere to go (for privacy)
Of the 50,000 plus men and women attending Sundance, the vast majority are single 20 & 30 some-things: romance and flirtation crackle deliciously in the air. However, before you begin to think of this as âhook-up heaven,â know this: there is no privacy. Itâs not unusual to have 8 people crashing in a two bedroom condo. So, unless youâre an exhibitionist, get their email and defer the serious dating until youâre home.
6. U2 are going to play a concert on a rooftop!
They didnât. They did however, attend the Festival to promote their new movie, “U2 3D.”
5. The gifting suites: not that sweet
Itâs true. When youâre a wealthy celebrity and can finally afford anything, companies will give you everything for free. Gifting suites are little rooms and storefronts where companies will hand out free clothing, electronics and cosmetics to celebrities. Sundance was full of them. However, do you really need to schlep a bottle of facial toner, an Eddie Bauer hoodie and an ipod holder back home with you on the plane?
4. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young will be giving a concert in a small bar
This actually did happen. CSNY rocked the house for 150 lucky fans in a local bar in promotion of their new concert film, “DÃ©jÃ vu!”
3. Altitude sickness: itâs real
Q: Whatâs green, throbbing and queasy and wants to ruin your vacation?
A: Your head when you get altitude sickness! Nota bene: Los Angeles is at sea level, Park City is 7,000 feet above sea level. The good news is you can avoid it by drinking lots of water and you generally get over it in one day.
2. Oh, that Bill Maher
In chasing down an interview, I sought out Jewish comedian and political pundit Bill Maher, whom I believed was premiering his motion picture directorial debut âSleepwalkingâ at Sundance. Turned out, it was a different Bill Maher! Hey, who knew there were two?!
1. The number one most overheard phrase at Sundance 2008:
âI think I just saw Paris Hiltonâ¦â
Los Angeles producer J. Todd Harris greets The Jewish Journal during an after-party. Harris’ film, “Bottle Shock,” stars Alan Rickman and Bill Pullman.
January 30, 2008 | 11:36 am
Posted by Dikla Kadosh
If you’ve never heard of Book Soup, you’re missing out on a true Los Angeles gem. The quaint Sunset Strip bookstore is lined with books from floor to ceiling and its narrow walkways and warm lighting give the store an intimate feeling that Barnes and Noble is sorely missing.
Book Soup’s greatest draw, however, is not the atmosphere, but the programming. A steady stream of top-notch authors (many of whom are Jewish) come through the bookstore, reading excerpts, mingling with the crowd and signing books and scripts.
Here’s a sampling of the hot and steamy writers who’ll be paying Book Soup a visit soon:
Sat., Feb. 2: Writer/director Tamara Jenkins presents and signs “The Savages: The Shooting Script.”
Thu., Feb. 7: David Rieff presents and signs his loving tribute to his deceased mother “Swimming in a Sea of Death.”
For a full list of events, go to www.booksoup.com.
January 29, 2008 | 12:45 pm
Posted by Dikla Kadosh
Blogger recently announced that it is now available in three more languages: Arabic, Hebrew and Persian.
“Supporting these languages is a huge milestone for us because â unlike the other 37 languages Blogger is translated into â Arabic, Persian, and Hebrew are written from right to left. As you can see from the above screenshot, we had to flip the whole interface around.
Besides localizing the Blogger interface into these three languages, we have right-to-left templates and have added new toolbar buttons for bi-directional text editing in the post editor.
The effort was worth it, however, and weâre tremendously happy to be a part of the growing Arabic-, Hebrew-, and Persian-language blogging communities.”
Nice going Blogger. Maybe someday when I brush up on my aleph bet, I can start a Hebrew version of The Calendar Girls for the L.A. Israeli community - “Ha Banot Shel Luach Shana.”
January 28, 2008 | 2:57 pm
Posted by Dikla Kadosh
Aaron Kemp, the founder of Aaron’s Tent and JCafeLA, was tracking down the Jewish angles in Park City, Utah this past week at the Sundance Film Festival. Here’s a pictorial sneak peak at Aaron’s first guest blogging gig with The Calendar Girls:
“The photo is with Jacqueline Bisset, former ‘Bond Girl’ and star of the 1977 film, ‘The Deep’ for which Newsweek magazine labeled her the ‘most beautiful film actress of all time.’ This was taken at an after-party of the poignant post-holocaust movie ‘Death in Love,’ starring Ms. Bisset. ‘Death in Love’ is a story about a Jewish woman’s forced love affair with a Nazi doctor in a concentration camp and its effect on the lives of her sons many years later.”
Much more to come, including video clips, from our Sundance correspondent…
January 24, 2008 | 5:56 pm
Posted by Dikla Kadosh
I recently wrote a cover story for our Arts in LA quarterly publication about an Israeli who hosts a Chinese performing arts show, so naturally, when the show came to the brand new Nokia Theatre in downtown, I requested tickets.
From the website’s descriptions and all the press materials I received, the “Chinese New Year Spectacular” promised to be an extravagant display of song and dance representing the glory of ancient Chinese culture.
Here’s an alluring tidbit from the show’s website:
“The splendor and beauty of the east will be majestically brought to life as New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) presents the 2008 “Chinese New Year Spectacular.” Listed as a “Top Ten” show in North America by Billboard Magazine and rated by the New York Times as “the best Chinese Show of the Year”, the Chinese New Year Spectacular will take audiences of all ages on a magical journey back to China’s treasured Golden Age when the Chinese culture is free from the communist influence.”
The photos were stunning:
In short, I walked into the theater with high expectations.
My first disappointment actually came days before the show - the Israeli I profiled in my article was not hosting that night’s show. Leeshai Lemish emailed me that week to let me know that he had been sent to Toronto to host the company’s show there. In his place was a nicely rehearsed, well-dressed, not too exciting Chinese host.
The show, though beautiful in many respects, was quite honestly less than spectacular. I had to elbow my fiance awake several times and I spotted more than a couple of heads nestled comfortably on the shoulder of their date. Neither was the huge theater - modern and impressive - near capacity on the show’s second night in town.
I’m not saying the show was bad. The dancers were incredibly elegant and poised. The costumes richly decorated and brightly colored. The music soothing. The production flawlessly executed.
It was just very mellow. Maybe too mellow for a Los Angeles audience accustomed to the breathtaking acrobatics of Cirque du Soleil, the no-expense-spared production of “Wicked” and the splashy Justin Timberlake concerts next door at the Staples Center.
Despite the lack of fireworks, I enjoyed the show. But I don’t think it would be everyone’s cup of tea.
January 22, 2008 | 12:40 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
The Jewish tradition is famously hot on storytelling, which means it comes as no surprise that five Jewish film directors were nominated for Oscars during this morning’s 80th Annual Academy Award nominations telecast. Four received Best Director nominations and the fifth saw his film nominated as Israel’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film. Though the themes featured in many of this year’s Best Picture nods are grim and often violent, it is a happy occasion for several works that have been on our radar screen over the past few months:
Jason Reitman, who generously shared his thoughts on the Jewishness of storytelling at Sinai Temple’s Jewish Film Festival last Spring was nominated as Best Director for “Juno,” a clever coming-of-age story about a pregnant teen who decides to give her baby up for adoption.
Joel and Ethan Coen—better known as “The Coen Brothers” scored a record eight nods for their crime thriller, “No Country For Old Men,” a film about a drug deal gone horribly awry.
Painter-turned-filmmaker Julian Schnabel received a nod for his artful meditation “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” about Jean-Dominique Bauby, the editor of French Elle magazine who was paralyzed with “locked-in syndrome” and penned his best-selling memoir with only the use of his left eye.
Israeli film “Beaufort” directed by Joseph Cedar received a well deserved accolade in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
Though I have to hope next year’s nominations include a Jewish female, Oscar night will certainly be fun with so many teammates to cheer for. But after the terrible fate of the Golden Globes, let’s hope there still is an Oscar night…
January 16, 2008 | 12:31 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
“Beaufort,” the Israeli indie film about the last military outpost to leave Lebanon is one step closer to an Oscar nomination. Ah, the sweet smell of success after an altercation with The Band’s Visit over who would represent Israel as its official submission may have soured some relations.
The official academy release:
Beverly Hills, CA: Nine films will advance to the next round of voting in
the Foreign Language Film category for the 80th Academy AwardsÂ®. Sixty-three
films had originally qualified in the category.
The films, listed in alphabetical order by country, are:
Austria, The Counterfeiters, Stefan Ruzowitzky, director
Brazil, The Year My Parents Went on Vacation, Cao
Canada, Days of Darkness, Denys Arcand, director
Israel, Beaufort, Joseph Cedar, director
Italy, The Unknown, Giuseppe Tornatore, director
Kazakhstan, Mongol, Sergei Bodrov, director
Poland, Katyn, Andrzej Wajda, director
Russia, 12, Nikita Mikhalkov, director
Serbia, The Trap, Srdan Golubovic, director
Foreign Language Film nominations for 2007 are being determined in two
The Phase I committee, consisting of several hundred Los Angeles-based
members, screened the 63 eligible films and their ballots determined the
A Phase II committee, made up of ten randomly selected members from the
Phase I group, joined by specially invited ten-member contingents in New
York and Los Angeles, will view the shortlisted films and select the five
nominees for the category.