Israeli television certainly has its moments. On Thursday night, as much of the Western world relaxed and got ready to toast the New Year and many TV channels ran fluffy items, things got heated on a popular Israeli talk show. Jamal Zahalka, a lawmaker from the Arab party Balad was in the Tel Aviv studio of Erev Hadasha (“New Evening”), a Channel 23 program which is broadcast live. After a few moments of amicable discussion, the focus turned to Gaza and Zahalka accused Defense Minister Ehud Barak of killing children. The interviewer, former Haaretz journalist Dan Margalit, initially responded with a rather understated remark that the comment was a ”chutzpah.” Then, in true Israeli-style, a fight began — propelled not by the subject under discussion but by the various names that the two men called each other.
The fight lasted around a minute and a half. Then the interviewee was removed from the studio. In most other countries one imagines that the presenter would have dusted himself off, composed himself, and got the show back on track. Not in Israel! As the co-presenter shifted uncomfortably and tried to move on, Margalit started speaking about the altercation and got his frustrations off his chest. The back-and-forth restarted, and ended with Zahalka yelling that the studio is located in Sheikh Munis, an old Arab village. Margalit responded by claiming that the incident shows Zahalka’s true colors as a politician who wants all of Israel to become Palestine and not just areas that Israel captured in 1967. The footage has been posted on YouTube with an English translation that gives the general idea but isn’t correct throughout.
Legendary insult comedian Don Rickles took home an Emmy tonight for “Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program” for the documentary “Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project,” which is, of course, about him.
“It’s a mistake,” Rickles said. “I’ve been in the business 55 years and the biggest award I got was an ashtray from the Friar’s in New York.”
Rickles has been on a roll lately. Last year, he came out with a book, titled “Rickles’ Book,” which was, of course, about him. (Notice a pattern here?) It did quite well.
“Five weeks on the New York Times best seller list was quite a treat for me,” the octogenarian funnyman told the Atlantic City Weekly. “I call myself the Jewish Mark Twain. I never wrote anything in my life.”
Estelle Getty of “Golden Girls” is no longer with us.
Here’s a tribute from a fan:
From her New York Times obit:
Long before “Golden Girls” Ms. Getty had been portraying maternal types of all sorts on the stage.
“I am the mother,” she declared in her opening line in “Torch Song Trilogy,” Harvey Fierstein’s 1981 play about the travails of a gay man in New York City, and as a summary of her career, her character was right.
“I’ve played mothers to heroes and mothers to zeroes,” Ms. Getty wrote in her autobiography, “If I Knew Then What I Know Now … So What?” (Contemporary Books, 1988). “I’ve played Irish mothers, Jewish mothers, Italian mothers, Southern mothers, mothers in plays by Neil Simon and Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams. I’ve played mother to everyone but Attila the Hun.”
Interestingly, Getty was actually younger than Bea Arthur, who played her daughter on “Golden Girls.”
UPDATE: The L.A. Times notes that Getty played the Yiddish theater and the Catskills in her early days.
Among the other revelations in Heeb’s profile of Hines: Her character on “Curb” was originally supposed to be Jewish, in real life Larry apparently doesn’t dig pig, Hines learned about Passover from coloring books she bought for Rob Reiner’s kids, and some folks in the actress’s hometown of Tallahassee apparently thought she was David’s wife in real life.
For one night, at least, MTV may as well have been the Jewish Television Network. Yesterday’s MTV Movie Awards had an unusually large number of young, hip celebrity Jews taking center-stage.
The show was hosted by comedian-of-the-moment Sarah Silverman, who, in typical faux-innocent fashion, mercilessly roasted Paris Hilton (conveniently in attendance). Silverman noted — to vigorous audience applause — that the hard-partying socialite was headed to jail, before lobbing an off-color barb that can’t be printed on a family blog. Of course, the camera, after each blow, cut to Paris, who did not seem pleased. For perhaps the first time ever, it was easy to feel sorry for the self-aggrandizing socialite. (Watch the video here.)
On Tuesday, as part of its spin on the Tikkun Leil Shavuot — the all-night study session traditionally observed on Shavuot eve — the JCC in Manhattan screened a number of episodes of the hit Israeli television series “Bitipul,” or “In Treatment.” (The JCC defines “study” broadly.)
The series was presented by psychologists Jill Salberg and Shuki Cohen, who introduced the show and led some post-screening discussions. The effect of the series, each episode of which is devoted to a session between a therapist (played by actor Asi Dayan) and one his patients, has been nothing short of revolutionary, Salberg and Cohen said. It has led to an increase in the number of Israelis in therapy — and an increase in what Israeli therapists are charging. (HBO is reportedly developing its own version of the show.)
To get a sense of the audience’s familiarity with the Israeli scene — and its level of psychoanalytic savvy — the two doctors did some informal polling. “How many here are from Israel?” they asked. About half the audience raised their hands. “How many here have never been in therapy?” Again about half the audience. “How many here work in the field of behavioral health?” Yet again, about 50%. (This is the Upper West Side, after all.)
With their polling complete, Drs. Salberg and Cohen started speaking about the show’s premiere episode, but they didn’t get very far. A bearded fellow with what sounded like an Australian accent — quite possibly voicing the audience’s consensus opinion — couldn’t take any more: “Can we just get on with the show and save the discussion for later?” he said cantankerously. And that’s all it took. The two doctors quickly slinked off the stage and dimmed the lights.
As they left, the bearded fellow — possibly in an effort inoculate himself against being perceived as a crank — added, “I’m a therapist myself.”