The Shmooze

First Look at Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher's Baby

By Anne Cohen

In October, Ashton Kutcher posted pictures of 8 different babies to Twitter, announcing that one of them was Wyatt Isabelle, his newborn daughter with Mila Kunis.

Now, we’ve got the read deal. The couple’s holiday card, showing off the 3-month-old infant, have been leaked online.

While dressing up your newborn child as a pig isn’t the most kosher of projects, we’ll let it slide. It’s just too cute. Mazel tov!


Jewish 'Bachelorette' Andi Dorfman Calls Off Engagement

By Maia Efrem

Getty Images

Just when you let your guard down and started believing that true love really does exist —  and that it can be found on a TV show, no less — reality slaps you right across the face.

TMZ reports that Bachelorette Andi Dorfman and fiancée Josh Murray have called off their eight-month long engagement, to the swift sound of lady hearts breaking across the nation.

The couple first stole our hearts last summer as millions tuned in to watch the first Jewish “Bachelorette” and the former baseball player declare their undying love in the Dominican Republic. Then we followed them as they continued their picture perfect relationship on social media, looking adorable and sickeningly lovey-dovey on their Instagram feeds.

We should have known better.

Not surprising, though, that the two kept news of their split a secret until after Monday’s “Bachelor” premiere on ABC. The two appeared as close as ever on the red carpet as they talked about delaying wedding planning.

Well, better luck next time, Josh.

And Andi, have we got a nice guy for you. Call us when you’re ready.


Are The Kardashians Moving to Tel Aviv?

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Brace yourself Tel Aviv, the Kardashians are coming.

The Times of Israel reports that Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian have their eye on $30 million worth of real estate on the city’s A-list Hayarkon Street. The sisters would apparently combine a fourth floor apartment and 11,840 square feet penthouse to create the ultimate Kardashian krash pad.

The property in question, at 96 Hayarkon street, dates back to 1935 and was designed by architect Pinchas Bijonski in the Bauhaus style. The renovated building, opened to the public in 2012, combined the original structure with a 9-story tower.

Check out the inside here:

Scott Disick, Kourtney’s boyfriend and father of her three kids, is Jewish (and has the bling to prove it). Can we look forward to a krazy Kardashian wedding in Israel sometime soon? We’d settle for a glimpse of Kanye at the kotel.


When Charlie Hebdo Lampooned Jews Too

By Anne Cohen

On January 7, three gunmen open fired at the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people, including two police officers. Four of France’s most celebrated cartoonists Charb, Cabu, Wolinski and Tignous, were among the victims. It’s easy to speculate about what sparked this deadly attack. Charlie Hebdo wasn’t exactly known for its tact or subtlety — in November 2011, the publication’s offices were firebombed a day after publishing a cartoon depicting the prophet Mohammed.

But it would be a mistake to think that the popular magazine only targeted Islam. It thumbed its nose at everyone, reflecting mostly the bad and the ugly, but also the good, of French society as a whole — Jews included. Here are a couple of examples:

Charlie Hebdo/ via Daily Beast

An Orthodox Jew, the Pope and an Imam yell: “Charlie Hebdo must be veiled!”


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9 Jews To Look Out For at The Golden Globes

By Anne Cohen

As we all get ready to worship at the altar of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey on Sunday, take a moment to check out which of your favorite Jewish actors/directors/writers are being honored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

The 72nd Annual Golden Globes Awards will air at 8 p.m. (EST) on NBC on Jan. 11, 2015. Good luck to all members of the tribe!

Jake Gyllenhaal

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama — ”Nightcrawler”


Maggie Gyllenhaal

Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie — “The Honorable Woman”


Joaquin Phoenix

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical — ”Inherent Vice”


Liev Schreiber

Best Actor in a TV Series, Drama — ”Ray Donovan”


Louis C.K.

Best Actor, TV Series Comedy — ”Louie”


Jeffrey Tambor

Best Actor, TV Series Comedy — ”Transparent”


Julianna Margulies

Best Actress in a TV Series, Drama — “The Good Wife”


Lena Dunham

Best Actress in a TV Series, Comedy — ”Girls”


Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Best Actress in a TV Series, Comedy — ”Veep”


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Cameron Diaz's 'Jewish' Wedding

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Mazel tov, Cameron Diaz! At least, we think so.

The non-Jewish actress tied the knot yesterday in a Jewish ceremony with Good Charlotte’s (maybe Jewish? — status ambiguous) Benji Madden. Yes, you read that right. Two celebrities with no apparent connection to Judaism decided it would be fun to say “I do” under a chuppah (after scouring the Internet, I was unable to find any reference to Benji’s Jewish background, but hey — who knows).

Us Weekly reports that the ceremony, attended by 100 guests and planned by Yifat Oren (so THERE’S the Jewish connection) and Stefanie Cove, was held on a stage in Diaz’s home.

The traditional seven blessings were recited, and yes, Benji crushed the glass as twin Joel Madden and his wife Nicole Ritchie looked on.

But wait, it gets weirder. Per Us Weekly:

After the vows, Madden requested personal time with Diaz, during which they entered a private room for about 30 minutes, asking not to be disturbed — a Jewish wedding ritual known as Yichud.

I’m not really sure how to feel about this. Is Good Charlotte a good Jewish band? Or Is Judaism just the new kale?


Stephen Fry To Marry 27-Year-Old Comedian

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

The best British Jewish comedian you’ve only kind of heard of, Stephen Fry, is tying the knot with 27-year-old partner Elliott Spencer. Fry took to to Twitter to confirm the news, though a date has not yet been set.

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A Miss America Who Remembered Her Yiddish Roots

By Masha Leon

Bess Myerson, a Bronx-born beauty whose selection as the first — and to date only —  Jewish Miss America turned out to be more than a leggy, musically talented woman. Succumbing at 90 to dementia, she left her imprint on the Jewish community as an indefatigable supporter of Israel and never forgot her Yiddish roots.

When in Chicago in 1945 my mother — with a Forverts in hand–greeted me as I came home from a Workmen’s Circle School — with “Mashele, mir hobn a yidishe Miss America!” I could not have imagined that decades later she and I would become friends!

Karen Leon
Masha Leon and Bess Myerson, 1993

When I first met Bess at the December 1990 birthday bash for 80 year old comedian Joey Adams arranged by his wife Cindy Adams and hosted by hotel magnate Leona Helmsley, I told her how significant her crowning as Miss America was for Holocaust survivors. That as an after-school teenage employee at the Forverts’ 1330 So. Kedzie Street office in Chicago, I could still remember the exultation at her crowning. Myerson immediately switched to Yiddish and said: “haynt is a simkha” (we have a celebration). Overhearing, our chat, Arnold Forster, then general counsel for the ADL, told me “Five days after she was declared Miss America, she came to me and asked, “What can I do for the Jewish People?’ And so for two years she spoke to over 10,000 high school and college kids telling them that ‘you can’t be beautiful and hate.’”

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Scarlett Johansson To Star in Adaptation of Japanese Anime

By Justin Kroll

(Reuters) — Following the success of “Lucy,” Scarlett Johansson looks ready to take on another action pic, this one coming from the world of Japanese anime.

Johansson is set to star in DreamWorks’ adaptation of the popular anime pic “Ghost in the Shell.” Deadline Hollywood had reported that the actress had the offer to star but at the time she was still undecided about taking the role. Sources now say she has agreed to star in the pic.

The story follows the exploits of a member of a covert ops unit of the Japanese National Public Safety Commission that specializes in fighting technology-related crime.

Rupert Sanders is on board to direct. Avi Arad and Steven Paul are producing the film from a script by Bill Wheeler. Mark Sourian is exec producing.

Insiders also tell Variety that Paramount has the option to come on as co-producer and financier and that decision is expected in the coming weeks.

DreamWorks principal Steven Spielberg is a huge fan of the original and has long wanted to get this film off the ground. A commitment from a star like Johansson should help in getting the pic greenlit for production.

Besides Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lawrence, Johansson is becoming one of the few actresses in town with the clout to get a project greenlit on her name alone.

“Lucy” made $394 million worldwide and Johansson can be seen next in “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” bowing in May. Johansson has also done a nice job of balancing action-heavy tentpoles with serious dramas and comedies.

She received rave reviews for Spike Jonze’s “Her” and is a part of the ensemble of the Coen brothers’ next pic “Hail, Caesar!” She is repped by CAA and LBI Entertainment.


'Werewolf' Adoption Story Was 100% Kosher — Really!

By Diego Melamed

Illustration by Lior Zaltzman

(JTA) — Last week, JTA published an unusual item about a werewolf legend that generated headlines worldwide. The item was about Yair Tawil, the first Jewish man adopted as a godson by Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

The adoption took place under a longstanding custom that presidents adopt the seventh son (born to a family with no daughters in between) to counter a legend that once led families to put their seventh sons up for adoption, abandon them or even kill them out of fear that they would become werewolves. The custom originated in the early 20th century and was made the law of the land in the 1970s (in our original report, we erred in stating the law dates from the 1920s).

Until 2009, the law had been restricted to Catholics. Tawil was the first Jew adopted under the law, though by the time of his adoption he was already a grown man. Typically the law is applied to babies.

Four days after our piece appeared, the U.K. Guardian challenged our report, which by then had been picked up by numerous news outlets. The Guardian quoted Argentine historian Daniel Balmaceda, who asserted that there was no connection between the presidential custom and the myth of the lobizon, a werewolf legend popular among Argentine cowboys. The piece further suggested that media outlets were quick to report a story suggesting the Argentine president believes in werewolves because of a tendency to view Latin American leaders as “erratic.”

So did JTA botch the story?

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Idina Menzel Defends Her New Year's 'Let It Go' Performance

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Idina Menzel wants you all to let it go already.

In case you haven’t heard, the “Frozen” sensation performed the Oscar-winning song during “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest,” (what’s up with that name by the way?)). All was going as planned: people were cheering, singing along, channeling Elsa — and then it happened. Menzel missed the high note.

Gasp!

And yet, if 100 years from now people look back on this relatively inane moment in human history with Twitter as their only source, they would be left to conclude that this was a catastrophe on par with the Hindenberg (“Oh the humanity!”).

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When Mario Cuomo Did Grossinger's — With Ed Koch

By Masha Leon

I first met Mario Cuomo, the former New York State governor who died at 82 on Thursday, at Grossinger’s in the Catskills in 1982. He and Ed Koch were debaters before the New York State Broadcasters Association Annual Conference. Hearing of my Forward connection, Koch told me outright “tell your readers to rush to the polls and vote.”

Cuomo, his arm around my shoulder as we walked along a pathway, explained “The Jews need a Shabbos goy because they can’t do everything for themselves.”

Mario Cuomo as he appeared in Karen Leon’s 1987 cartoon

Whenever we met over the years, “the grandchildren” were always a topic of conversation as they were at the 1997 Creative Coalition Spotlight Awards at The Pierre at which son-in-law Kenneth Cole was an honoree, Mario Cuomo reminded me how he “spent the night under Jennie Grossinger’s portrait.”

The last time I spoke with the governor was at the June 25, 2013 Women’s Forum of New York Elly Awards Luncheon at the Plaza at which daughter Maria Cuomo Cole was an honoree. Former New York State First Lady and award presenter Matilda Cuomo touted her thirteen grandchildren — “all girls and one boy” — as seated at the VIP table, father Mario Cuomo was schepping nachas.

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French Acclaim for Entrepreneurs

By Masha Leon

Bon soir and bienvenue!Marie-Monique Steckel president of Alliance Francaise (FIAF) welcomed the black tie and stunningly gowned international assemblage at The Plaza for its 2014 Trophee Des Arts oversubscribed Gala which honored interior designer Jacques Grange and Internet entrepreneur Fabrice Grinda.

Jeremy Levine, a partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, presented the Pilier d’Or award to his friend Grinda “one of the world’s leading internet entrepreneurs and inventors.” Levine recalled: “Twenty years ago he had the office next door to me and I had to regularly bang on the wall because of the heated arguments he had with his office mate. Never about work, but some geo-political issue. His office mate [Einat Wilf] went on to become a member of the Israeli Knesset and Fabrice became one of her most critical political backers.”

Marie Monique Steckel FIAF President gets hands on at the organization’s Gala// Karen Leon

“The lesson for me is that a deep passionate debate seeded a very long friendship…. I invested in one of his companies quite profitably… Thank you Fabrice! First he made a fortune identifying clever Internet business models and exporting them from one country another…. His first start-up was essentially a copy of eBay; another was a copy of Craigslist. An emulator, a copier and adapter, he exported to places like Brazil and India. He employs hundreds of people and funds schools in a poor town in the Dominican Republic.”

Born and raised in France, a somewhat embarrassed Grinda — who moved to the U.S. to attend Princeton — informed the audience: “When I look back twelve years ago I was basically bankrupt, living in an office on Ramen noodles and fresh water. With persistence and innovation I managed to draw victory from the jaws of defeat…. If you don’t know something isn’t possible, you might go ahead and do it. Being an entrepreneur [means] facing failure again and again. There is a magic about creating something out of nothing.”

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Jewish 'Werewolf' of Argentina? Not So Fast.

By Lior Zaltzman


Sorry, no Jewish werewolves for you!

Remember that article about the Argentinian president adopting a Jewish boy to stop him from turning into a werewolf? The one that seemed too ridiculous to be true?

Well, turns out that it was bogus. At least, according to The Guardian.

The drama started when President Cristina Kirchner announced she was adopting as her godson Yair Tawil, the seventh son of a Chabad emissary in the central city of Rosario and his wife.

The symbolic “adoption” is part of a longstanding Argentine presidential tradition. And It is in fact true that a family’s seventh child is eligible to become the Argentinian president’s godson or goddaughter.

This tradition, according to the paper, originated with a request that came from a Russian-Argentinian in 1907:

“The couple wanted to maintain a custom from Czarist Russia, where the Tsar was said to become godfather to seventh sons, and Argentina’s president accepted.”

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Proud Hitler Impersonator Charges $90 for Photos

By Gabe Friedman

The real Adolf Hitler addresses Germany’s parliament.


(JTA) — It sounds like the premise for a bad horror film: Adolf Hitler is reincarnated as someone who not only looks like him, but shares his views.

Kosovo resident Emin Djinovci apparently believes such a film would be the story of his life. The 49-year-old Hitler impersonator, who claims to be the Nazi leader reincarnated, charges over $90 for photos he takes with tourists, according to the United Kingdom’s Mirror newspaper.

Hitler lookalikes are nothing new. Just last month, an actor dressed like Hitler appeared throughout Germany’s Dresden in an effort to promote a new film.

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Abe Foxman Kvells as Son Ties Knot

By Uriel Heilman

(JTA) — Brandon Cardet-Hernandez, a Cuban-American who grew up in Orlando, Fla., didn’t know the Yiddish term for soul mate (bashert) when he bumped into Ariel Foxman on the uptown A train in March 2012. But it’s clear now that that one subway trip was an express route to destiny.

In The New York Times’ Vows column Sunday, Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, kvells about the recent wedding of his son, Ariel, to Cardet-Hernandez.

“Their marriage brings together things that were less easy to understand even 10 years ago,” the elder Foxman, who is retiring next year after more than a quarter century at the ADL’s helm, said in the Times’ profile of the same-sex couple. “Now it’s just so normal, comfortable and loving.”

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'Not the Messiah,' Eric Idle's Very Naughty (Jewish) Boy Oratorio

By Masha Leon

For longtime fans or those new to Monty Python’s wacky irreverence, the Collegiate Chorales’ New York City premiere of “Not The Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy)” — a comic oratorio with libretto by Eric Idle and score by John du Prez — at Carnegie Hall was a kick to the religious funny bone. With Cecil B. De Mille-ish bravura, the nearly 200-strong Collegiate Chorale under the baton of Artistic Director Ted Sperling accompanied by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and members of the New York Metro Pipe Band, the production was a perfect year-end musical elixir.

Eric Idle, Alan Zweibel and David Steinberg // Karen Leon

Inspired by Monty Python’s “Life of Brian [Cohen]” and narrated by Idle, this Biblical spoof is about the son of an abandoned Judean woman with whom a Roman Centurion “had his way” who is mistaken for “The Chosen One.” With stellar performances by soprano Lauren Worsham Mezzo-Soprano Victoria Clark, Tenor William Ferguson, Bass Marc Kudisch and “Sheep Lady” Lynne Marie Rosenberg (three stuffed sheep attached to her gown!) it is a sacrilegious hoot.

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Ari Engel's 5 Tips To Win at Poker

By Ari Engel

Ari Engel, the son of an Orthodox rabbi, has become one of the world’s best professional poker players over the last few years. Engel says poker is a game of skill, not chance. Here are his top five tips for becoming a better player.

  1. Patience is a virtue. I know you didn’t travel to the casino or home game to fold, but sometimes that’s what you need to do. Playing bad hands because you are bored is a recipe for a losing session. By being selective with the hands you play, you will have a better hand than your opponents over the long run. Even though you may get unlucky at times, in general you will end up with the winning hand.

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Natalie Portman Mocks Ryan Seacrest in Gaza Email Trail

By Lior Zaltzman

The recent Sony hack has left plenty of destruction in its path.

Yet, it also unveiled some incredibly random and hilarious information that we never knew we wanted (and I would argue, still aren’t sure we really need). Like the following chain e-mail correspondence about the war in Gaza, sent to prominent Jewish figures, Sony execs and celebrities like Scarlett Johansson, Russell Simmons, Natalie Portman and…Ryan Seacrest?

On Aug 29, 2014, at 1:29 PM, “Ryan Kavanaugh” wrote:

The problem is that Moore ’ law is kicking in. Before the summer 50 percent of college students supported israel, today less the 25 percent do. There are hate crimes against heed happening in almost every major metropolitan city, now including the US.

We have let this happen. And it’s our job to keep another Hollacast from happening. Many of you may think that can’t happen, that is extreme. My Grandmother told me over and over again remember no one believed it could happen and everyone thought the government would not allow it to. It took 5 years before the us stepped in, and 12 million dead.

If you pull newspapers from pre Hollacast it seems eerily close to our world today.

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Adam Sandler Is Most Overpaid Hollywood Actor

By Reuters

Comedian Adam Sandler topped Forbes’ list of Hollywood’s most overpaid actors for a second consecutive year, nudging out Johnny Depp and Tom Hanks for the dubious honor, the magazine said on Tuesday.

Although Sandler’s latest film “Grown Ups 2” was a hit, pulling in $246 million at the global box office, it didn’t go far enough to make up for the 48 year-old’s previous flops, “Jack and Jill” and “That’s My Boy.”

“We estimate that for every $1 Sandler was paid, he returned an average of $3.20,” said Forbes, the lowest return on investment of any actor whose record the magazine examined.

Depp, the star of the hugely successful “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, came in second, returning an average of $4.10 for each dollar paid, because of recent misses like “The Lone Ranger” and “Dark Shadows.”

Forbes compiled the annual ranking by looking at the estimated paychecks of Hollywood’s top stars and the budget and revenue of the last three films each actor starred in before June 2014 to determine a return on investment for each actor.

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