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At Level Ground
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Monday, October 31, 2005
They said it
"A new poll shows that 66% of Americans think President Bush is doing a poor job of handling the war in Iraq. And the remaining 34% think Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church." -- Tinay Fey on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update.
posted by Benyamin | 1:14 PM | Link | (4) comments |
NBC to Sorkin: Drugs, shmugs. We're in last place and we need you.

After years of drug use and late scripts, NBC is rekindling it's relationship with uber scribe Aaron Sorkin. The new dramedy, called Studio 7, will be a behind the scenes look at a fictitous late night show similar to Saturday Night Live. If it's at least half as awesome as Sorkin's other behind the scenes show Sports Night, we're sure it'll be great. And he can even re-hire Peter Krause now that he's buried Six Feet Under. Assuming Sorkin can keep his pot use to a minimum, the show is scheduled to make it onto NBC's Fall 2006 schedule.
posted by Benyamin | 12:22 PM | Link | (0) comments |
Friday, October 28, 2005
Suicide girl

Natalie Portman (donning a wig to cover her bald spot) graces the cover of the new November issue of Blender Magazine. It's your typical ho-hum Portman profile (did you know her real last name is Hershlag?) until she starts talking about suicide bombings:
"Being from Israel, I've thought a lot about suicide bombing. It's disgusting, but then most forms of violence are disgusting. The thing with suicide bombing, though, is it sort of cuts off the revenge cycle. It simplifies things. It's basically saying, 'Listen, I know you're gonna kill me. I'm just going to kill myself so you don't have to worry yourself with finding me.' It's all very fine lines that we draw, and I think our classifications of what's OK violence and what's not undermine the fact that violence is terrible. It's a ridiculous statement, I know."
posted by Benyamin | 2:30 PM | Link | (0) comments |
Can we share a trailer?
Actor Shia LaBeouf has joined Lindsay Lohan as part of the cast of Bobby, a forthcoming film about the assasination of Robert F. Kennedy, thus making LaBeouf the luckiest Jew since Ashton Kutcher. Oh wait.
posted by Benyamin | 10:18 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Schindler's twist
Steven Spielberg's Survivor's of the Shoah Visual History Foundation -- which has amassed an enormous archive of survivors' oral histories -- is moving under the auspices of the University of Southern California where the famed director hopes it will be easier to raise money for the project. "I've had many fundraisers comment to me: 'Why are you asking me for money? I know how much you make'."
posted by Benyamin | 10:02 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Shlock rock
The AP profiles "the Jewish Dave Matthews," but after listening to some of his tracks on his site, we think his shlock would be better described as the poor man's Matisyahu.
posted by Benyamin | 10:24 AM | Link | (0) comments |
They said it
"In my youth I slept with everybody. It's a miracle that [my daughter] Melissa is white." -- Comedian Joan Rivers responding to attacks that she's a racist.
posted by Benyamin | 9:10 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Monday, October 24, 2005
Church's red carpet

Forget the Ziegfeld in New York or the Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. Now the studios are premeiring their faith-friendly films at houses of worship. As we blogged about last month, Hollywood is hoping word of mouth for synagogue screenings of Ushpizin will ultimately drive DVD sales. Even with all the great word of mouth, we'll still always pale in comparison with Kirk Cameron.
posted by Benyamin | 10:10 AM | Link | (0) comments |
The voice of God
Vampire novelist Anne Rice channels Jesus Christ. Lovely.
posted by Benyamin | 9:41 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Silver lining

The New York Times has a profile of David Berman, a poet as well as the frontman for the Silver Jews musical act. Breman, who says he's now studying the Torah, tells the Times his religion had nothing to do with his band's name: "When I was working at the Whitney I stared out the window and a sign said 'Silver Jewelry' but from my angle you couldn't see the end."
posted by Benyamin | 9:36 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Lost in space
Jon Favreau is sticking with sci-fi for now. His kid's flick Zathura (think Jumanji in space) opens next month and now the Jewish-Italian director has just signed on to direct John Carter of Mars, based on the epic Edgar Rice Burroughs sci-fi series. Let's just hope it's better than Elf.
posted by Benyamin | 9:22 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Friday, October 21, 2005
The whale and the squid
Did anyone see this? Leonard Nimoy and his wife read the Book of Jonah in front of their congregation at Yom Kippur services. Let's just hope he sings better than fellow Yid William Shatner.
posted by Benyamin | 12:29 PM | Link | (1) comments |
Madge: I'm not a Nazi

Madonna is retaliating against those rabbinic critics who slammed a supposedly Kabbalistic themed song on her new album. "The absurd thing is that it's not what they think it is," she says. "It's not a song about Isaac Luria. I don't know anything about Isaac Luria, so I couldn't write a song about him." In a related story, Madonna tells Attitude magazine that she's unhappy with the way people are treating her interest in Kabbalah. "People get very upset about the fact that I decided to study a spiritual belief system. It's very strange. I may as well have announced that I've joined the Nazi party."
posted by Benyamin | 9:43 AM | Link | (0) comments |
From the JTA: "An Australian synagogue purchased a Torah scroll on eBay." Insert your own joke here.
posted by Benyamin | 9:31 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Levi's genes

The current issue of New York magazine takes an exhaustive look at a centuries old canard: Are Jews genetically smarter than other races and ethnicities? The article, which clocks in at a whopping 6200 words, is a tad misleading. While a misanthropic Larry David graces the cover, he's barely even mentioned in the article. (I guess Einstein doesn't carry the same street cred he once did.) While the story has the usual plot twists -- we were persecuted, so we figured out ways to outsmart our tormentors -- it then shifts into realm of aplogetic:

Freud and Marx, Einstein and Bohr, Mendelssohn and Mahler. The brothers Gershwin. The brothers Marx. Woody Allen. Bob Dylan. Franz Kafka. Claude Levi-Strauss. Bobby Fischer. Jews may take tremendous pride in their aristocracy, but we fetishize it at our own peril; to suggest that we’re chosen, rather than that we make our own choices, curdles quickly into a useful argument for anti-Semites who’d love to claim that the objects of their derision are immutable vermin. It can’t be an accident that the most aggressive debunkers of Jewish essentialism, including the participants in this story, are generally Jews themselves. The arguments come in handy when the ugly stuff is trotted out, too.

A true shame ... both the packaging and its contents.
posted by Benyamin | 4:43 PM | Link | (0) comments |
The stork report
Mayim Bialik (aka Blossom) gave birth to a bouncing baby boy last week. Oh, so that's why she looked so heavy.
posted by Benyamin | 3:57 PM | Link | (0) comments |
Scien - TOM - ogy
The passion of the Cruise.
posted by Benyamin | 3:44 PM | Link | (0) comments |
Jon Stewart: The Movie
Director Barry Levinson is hoping for a critical comeback (he hasn't a good flick since 1997's Wag the Dog) by partnering with Robin Williams to play a Jon-Stewartesque late-night host who runs for public office in the upcoming Man of the Year. At the very least, it should be interesting.
posted by Benyamin | 3:43 PM | Link | (0) comments |
Friday, October 14, 2005
Scarlett skipper
As we reported earlier this week, Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner decided to have a big dinner party on Yom Kippur night. We're not here to judge, but it seems our our favorite half-Jewish starlet Scarlett Johansson chose the party over Kol Nidre.
posted by Benyamin | 8:57 AM | Link | (1) comments |
And baby makes four
Apparently not content with just one, Jon Stewart and his wife are expecting a second child. This time it will be a daughter. "I don't know that much about women," the 42-year-old Stewart joked. "A girl, she's going to want me to have tea with her and her panda. Like, what am I going to do with that?"
posted by Benyamin | 8:41 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Only simchas

Juicy nuggets from the Demi/Ashton wedding are now coming in. For starters, those of you who were not invited to the secret ceremony, can feel free to watch this video recreation -- which includes a cameo from Michael Jackson wanting to conduct a bris. (We kid you not.) Access Hollywood reports that the "Kabbalah-themed" ceremony included Demi circling Ashton the traditonal seven times. And OK! Magazine scores a tabloid coup by purchasing exclusive photos from the ceremony for its new issue. Is it just us or does the Kabbalah Centre's Rabbi Berg look a little unhappy in this just-released photo?
posted by Benyamin | 8:33 AM | Link | (1) comments |
Don't buy this
Apparently, Israeli hip-hop violinist Miri Ben-Ari doesn't like shilling for Reebok. Which isn't too hard to believe since it's hard to imagine a tough Israeli woman shilling for anything.
posted by Benyamin | 8:30 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Portman's complaint
Everything you wanted to know about Natalie Portman and Judaism, but we're afraid to ask.
posted by Benyamin | 7:04 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Something to be proud of (we guess)
Congrats to Rachel Weisz for filling the coke-addled shoes of Kate Moss.
posted by Benyamin | 9:39 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Judging by the looks of things
Yenta Judge Judy, who just began her 10th season on the air, has just extended her contract for another four years. That means four more years of watching her yell at rednecks and poor African Americans for making stupid decisions.
posted by Benyamin | 9:04 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Curb your cross dressing

After inciting religious hatred by using a commemorative Passion of the Christ nail to hammer in a new mezuzah on the latest episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David has also managed to garner the love and adoration of cross-dressers everywhere -- and remarkably all from the same episode.
posted by Benyamin | 9:48 AM | Link | (0) comments |
More Monica
Our favorite zaftig intern is looking for new ways to make money ... and, unfortunately, it's not what you think.
posted by Benyamin | 9:07 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Monday, October 10, 2005
Atone? For what?
Apparently, Jann Wenner (the founder of Rolling Stone Magazine), forgot when Yom Kippur was. He scheduled a big dinner that night at his home featuring the musical talents of U2. Well, at least we know who will be sitting next to when we get to hell.
posted by Benyamin | 11:22 AM | Link | (0) comments |
What? You can profit from Judaism?

Demi Moore is not enjoying her honeymoon to Ashton Kutcher. Sources close to the star say she's miffed at Madonna for not attending her wedding and instead mailing them two $10,000 kabbalah-inspired bracelets. And Demi is not the only one that Madonna is making angry. As we reported last week, Madonna plans on giving props to 16th century Kabbalist Isaac Luria. Now comes word that some rabbis aren't so happy with that. "There is a prohibition in Jewish law against using the holy name of our master, the Sage Isaac, for profit," the seminary's director, Rabbi Rafael Cohen, said. Um, has he ever heard of the Kabbalah Centre?
posted by Benyamin | 10:49 AM | Link | (0) comments |
They said it
"If we live in a time where you can't say the words 'Muslim' and 'comedy' in the same sentence, then we are in trouble." -- actor/director Albert Brooks on the controversy surrounding the title of his new film "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World.
posted by Benyamin | 10:47 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Friday, October 07, 2005
Holy cow
The nod heard round the world.
posted by Benyamin | 8:41 AM | Link | (0) comments |
They said it
"I turned down tickets to go to synagogue for Jewish high holidays for this taping." -- a miffed mommy-to-be after being disinvited to an overcrowded taping of a pregnant-themed episode of Martha Stewart's daytime talk show.
posted by Benyamin | 8:24 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Everything's coming up Rosie

Ever wanted to know what it looks like to be a fly on the wall in the dressing room of Rosie O'Donnell as she prepares to go on stage for her role in the Broadway performance of Fiddler on the Roof? Well, now you can. And in other related Rosie/Jewish news, what did you guys think of her cameo on the recent episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm?
posted by Benyamin | 8:20 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Stewart's stripes
From Billboard:
Rock duo the White Stripes will stage the first musical performance ever on Comedy Central's The Daily Show With Jon Stewart on December 1. "We've never had a musical performance on the show before -- not because we haven't wanted one -- but because we were holding out for a reunited Spandau Ballet. This will have to suffice," Stewart said in a statement.
posted by Benyamin | 8:16 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Thursday, October 06, 2005
This weekend, churches across our fair land will be celebrating Porn Sunday. Seriously. Yet another reason church is more fun than synagogue.
posted by Benyamin | 12:28 PM | Link | (0) comments |
The divinity of Oprah

Word is that Madonna is trying to convert Oprah to Kabbalah-ism. She's got some comptetition because Oprah regulars John Travolta and Tom Cruise have already been working the Scientology angle. Can I ask a silly question: Why are we all trying to convert Oprah?
posted by Benyamin | 11:02 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Quirky Jewish entrepreneur Howard Jonas is now trying his hand at the entertainment biz, hoping to go head to head with Disney and Pixar.
posted by Benyamin | 10:58 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Breaking news ... but we just found out
Man, it seems while we were away celebrating the New Year all the big stories broke: Katie Holmes is pregnant with Tom Cruise's baby, Jessica and Nick may be splitting up, and (holy crap) there's a lulav shortage!
posted by Benyamin | 10:52 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Monday, October 03, 2005
Stewart sinks
What? Not everyone thinks Jon Stewart is funny? Our world is shattering around us.
posted by Benyamin | 10:24 AM | Link | (0) comments |
Sing us a song, Mr. Kabbalah Man
At least one song on Madonna's new techno dance CD will be Kaballah inspired. The song "Isaac" is actually an anthem in honor of Isaac Luria, the 16th century Kabbalist and messianic hopeful. As if that wasn't enough, the tune also includes a spoken word interlude from a member of the Kabbalah Centre. Nice.
posted by Benyamin | 9:00 AM | Link | (0) comments |
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