The Shmooze

Andy Samberg To Star in BBC Series

By Margaret Eby

Getty Images

After seven seasons with Saturday Night Live, Digital Short darling and Jewish feminist Andy Samberg decided to leave the show earlier this summer. But Samberg fans shouldn’t fret. It won’t be long before his affably goofy face fills your screens once more — even if you don’t go see him in Adam Sandler’s latest vehicle, That’s My Boy.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the “Lazy Sunday” star has already landed a new gig in England.

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Mom Helped Kid Paint Swastikas

By Eileen Reynolds

Jon Lovitz via Twitter

When Jon Lovitz tweeted his outrage over an anti-Semitic act of vandalism in Southern California this April, his ire was directed primarily at a group of teenage girls he called bullies. Lovitz’s friends, parents of a teenage daughter, found feces left on their doorstep and swastikas and the word “Jew” painted in maple syrup in the yard. They believed that perpetrators were classmates from their daughter’s school. A neighbor had caught the vandalism on a surveillance camera.

Now justice is being served — and it looks like this isn’t just a case of teenage bullying. Catherine Whelpley, a Southern California mom, is being charged with aiding in the crime. She allegedly drove her daughter and two other girls to and from the crime scene, as well as to a second home where they’re also accused of committing vandalism.

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Gilad Shalit To Report on NBA Finals

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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Former Hamas captive and recently discharged IDF soldier Gilad Shalit has just landed his first post-army job — and it’s a plum one.

A long-time sports fanatic (he’s especially fond of the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team), Shalit will be the new sports commentator for the leading Israeli newspaper, Yediot Ahronot. Israel’s Channel 2 News reported today that Shalit will write a regular column, and that his first one will be on the NBA championship.

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Italian Soccer Star Taunted By Racist Fans

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

As many had feared, racism has reared its ugly head at Euro 2012. Italian football star Mario Balotelli was subjected to non-stop verbal abuse during the Italy-Spain match earlier this week at the Arena Gdansk in Poland.

The Mirror reported that 300 Spanish fans made monkey chants at Balotelli, and that the stewards (ushers) thought this was “funny.” A sports photographer who was on the scene said, “I was sat behind the goal with all the Spanish fans behind me and they were involved in monkey chanting and laughter and mockery whenever Balotelli was on the ball.”

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Joan Rivers, Condo Board President

By Eileen Reynolds

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She’s known by Mrs. Rosenberg to residents of the building on East 62nd St, near 5th Ave., but she refers to herself as “the scary lady upstairs.” She once hired a “Jewish voodoo priestess” to scare off a ghost. Her apartment is a $29.5 million penthouse decorated in the style of “Louis XIV meets Fred and Ginger.”

Could the Shmooze be describing anyone other than Joan Rivers? Of course not. Rivers, the New York Times reports, is one of a very few celebrities to serve on co-cop and condominium boards in New York City, and in her role as president, the bawdy comedian is serious as a heart attack.

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Natalie Portman Hits the Town With Aleph

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

If you go by paparazzi photos and gossip reports, then it appears that Natalie Portman dined in at least a couple of restaurants in Los Angeles last week.

First, the Enquirer let everyone know that the actress stopped in for lunch at Flore Vegan, an organic vegan restaurant on W. Sunset Blvd in Silverlake, with her almost one-year-old son Aleph. With little Aleph crying up a storm, the midday meal didn’t go very smoothly.

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‘Jerry Maguire’ Kid Shows Off Star of David Tattoo

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

Little Jonathan Lipnicki, the child actor the Shmooze fondly remembers playing opposite Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger in the 1996 hit film “Jerry Maguire,” is all grown up. Now 21, Lipnicki is totally ripped. Who could have imagined that little elf with spiky blond hair and round glasses turning into a piece of beefcake.

But he has, indeed, turned out to be very muscular, and he is proud about showing off his bod — and also the fact that he is Jewish. If you stop staring at his six pack for a minute, you’ll notice a big Star of David tattoo on the left side of his torso.

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Bethenny Frankel Kicks Off New Talk Show

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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In her latest project, reality TV star Bethenny Frankel is shifting the focus from what she has to say to what other women have to say…sort of. Her eponymous talk show, which begins airing today on FOX, will be about women (some celebrities, some not) talking about their lives.

But don’t worry that Frankel is going to fade into the background. “If we’re talking about something, I’m of course going to give my input as to my experience with that topic,” she said. “It’s not about me telling about my life. It’s about me learning about other people, and women learning about each other’s lives. It’s going to be a conversation. Of course I’m going to be in that conversation.”

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David Arquette Celebrates Bar Mitzvah in Jerusalem

By Nathan Jeffay

Noam Moscovitz/Flash 90
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch (left) with David Arquette

Mazel tov to actor David Arquette! Today, just 28 years late, he celebrated his bar mitzvah.

Arquette is in Israel at the moment, filming for his Travel Channel show Mile High, also known as Trippin’. As part of his tour he went to the Western Wall this morning and attended a bar mitzvah ceremony that took place there.

Then staff at the Western Wall asked him if he ever celebrated his bar mitzvah. When he said no, they fixed one up pronto with the help of the site’s rabbi, Shmuel Rabinovitch. Arquette was called up to the Torah, and like every good bar mitzvah boy, put on tefillin. A source at the Western Wall tells the Shmooze that it was a moving ceremony. You can see some footage of Arquette at the wall over at Ynet.

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Paul Simon Mistaken for Neil Diamond

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

It’s conceivable that someone might mistake Paul Simon for the other Paul Simon. If you’ve been living under a rock for the past half-century, then you could possibly think someone was talking about the late politician Paul Simon, rather than about the Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter and one half of Simon & Garfunkel.

But apparently it’s not the bow tie and horn-rimmed glasses wearing non-Jewish senator that some people have confused with the 70-year old musician. Instead, it’s another Jewish singer of similar age that they have Paul Simon mixed up with. To the Shmooze’s ear, their music does not sound much alike, so we wonder if it’s the fact that each of them has been married three times that makes people confuse one with the other.

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Yes, Joe Biden Danced the Hora

By Eileen Reynolds

OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO - DAVID LIENEMANN

It’s the question that’s been on everybody’s — okay, maybe just the Shmooze’s — mind since Ashley Biden’s big wedding to Jewish doctor Howard Krein: What’s the vice president like on the dance floor?

Word’s just in that proud Papa Biden joined in a traditional Jewish wedding dance in honor of his daughter and her new hubby. Check out People’s exclusive photo spread for a peek inside the interfaith bash — and a glimpse of what looks like a sweet and festive father-daughter dance.

We only wish we could get our hands on a video.


Video: The 'Jewish Justin Bieber'

By Margaret Eby

The pop music world has yet to have an Orthodox Jewish megastar, but one 13-year-old crooner may change all that. Edon Pinchot, who earned the nickname “the Jewish Justin Bieber” from the National Conference of Synagogue Youth, displayed precocious singing abilities on Tuesday’s episode of America’s Got Talent.

The yarmulke-clad Pinchot doesn’t quite have the Bieber hair, but his dulcet tones certainly give the “Baby” singer a run for his money. After a performance of “Good Life” by One Republic, Pinchot passed through to the Las Vegas with flying colors. He’s already built up a substantial YouTube following with videos of pop covers plunked out on his home piano, singing everything from John Lennon’s “Imagine” to Shontelle’s “Impossible”. Sharon Osbourne — herself half-Jewish — praised Pinchot for the emotion in his voice, but made no reference to his Jewishness. Both Howard Stern and Howie Madel gave Pinchot the thumbs up, so we’ll being seeing a lot more of the mellifluous-voiced youngster.

Watch Edon Pinchot Wow the Judges:


Gaza Journalist Honored by Women’s Group

By Nathan Jeffay

She is one of the most remarkable public figures in Gaza, and now her work is being acknowledged with a prestigious accolade.

Journalist Asma Al-Ghoul has worked in the media for a decade, writing about life under Hamas rule as she sees it — and also doling out a fair bit of criticism to the rival Fatah movement that rules the West Bank. The International Women’s Media Foundation has announced that she is one of the four winners of its Courage in Journalism award, which will be presented in New York and Los Angeles in October.

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Gymnast Kerri Strug Is Now a Mom

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Flickr/dabruins07

It’s a boy for Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Kerri Strug and her husband, Robert Fischer! Their son, Tyler William Fischer, was born on March 1, according to People magazine. The couple has been married since April 2010, and this is their first child.

Little Tyler weighed in at 7 lbs. 1 oz. at birth, which is no small thing given his mother’s tiny 4’10’ frame. “For me, he was large!” exclaimed Strug.

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Eli Yishai: Eritrea No Worse Than Sderot

By Nathan Jeffay

Ira Abramov via Wiki Commons

Always diplomatic, Israel’s Interior Minister has come up with another gem. He told Israel Radio today that he questions whether Eritrea is actually more dangerous that Sderot, the town on the Israel-Gaza border that is subject to Palestinian rocket attacks.

Eli Yishai, who leads the Haredi Shas party, was on the offensive against asylum seekers who are flocking to Israel from Eritrea. Just to remind ourselves, Eritrea is a country where Human Rights Watch says citizens face suffer arbitrary and indefinite detention; torture; inhumane conditions of confinement; restrictions on freedom of speech, movement, and belief; and indefinite conscription and forced labor in national service.

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Barbara Walters Tried To Get Assad Aide a Job

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Joella Marano via Wiki Commons

As if Barbara Walters’s exclusive soft-ball interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last December wasn’t bad enough, now there is word that the 82-year-old host of “The View” has inappropriately used her influence to further the career of one of the brutal dictator’s closest aides.

The Telegraph reports that Walters tried to help Sheherazad Jaafari, the daughter of Syria’s UN ambassador, get a spot at the Columbia School of Journalism and an internship with CNN’s Piers Morgan show. When Syrian opposition activists got a hold of email exchanges between Walters and Jaafari, 22, they confronted Walters with them, and she admitted that she had been acting with a conflict of interest and apologized.

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Fallout From Madonna’s Swastika Stunt

By Margaret Eby

Joey McCoy via Wiki Commons

At Madonna’s Tel Aviv concert on May 31, the pop queen went one provocative image too far. According to the Telegraph, a photomontage displayed behind the singer as she performed “Nobody Knows Me” showed a photo of France’s National Front leader Marine Le Pen with a swastika etched on her forehead, dissolving into a portrait that resembled Adolph Hitler. Le Pen didn’t take the implication lightly: The French politician is threatening a lawsuit against Madonna if she repeats the gambit at her upcoming concert in Paris in July.

Though the photo only appeared onscreen for a second, sandwiched between images of Madonna’s face morphing into other politicians like Sarah Palin and China’s Hu Jintao, right-wing leader Le Pen responded furiously. “We understand how old singers who need to get people talking about them go to extremes,” Le Pen told The Daily Mail.

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Seth Meyers Wears Dress, Makes Galliano Joke

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Rodney Greene via Wiki Commons

SNL’s Seth Meyers knows fashionable people take risks, so that’s just what he did as host of the Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards on Monday evening. The funny man’s risk taking fell into two categories — comedy and clothes modeling — and surprisingly, he did better in the latter.

A dig he made at former Dior designer John Galliano toward the beginning of his opening remarks reportedly fell a bit flat. “As a comedian, I have to say that this gig is a dream come true, because you know what they say about the world of high fashion: It’s just a bunch of easygoing, laid-back people who love to laugh at themselves. You could even say that fashion and comedy go together like bar mitzvahs and Galliano” he quipped. “No one in this room got where they were without taking a risk. I just took one, and I think we can all agree I shouldn’t have. That joke went so badly I’m going to get fired from Dior.”

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‘Jewish Johnny Carson’ Disses Nicki Minaj

By Margaret Eby

Getty Images

Hot 97 DJ Peter Rosenberg — or “the Jewish Johnny Carson” as he calls himself on his morning show — instantly became one of the biggest names in the hip-hop community on June 3 when his comments caused Nicki Minaj to cancel her set at the Hot 97 Summer Jam. Rosenberg, son of former Israel Policy Forum director and current Media Matters Senior Foreign Policy Fellow M.J. Rosenberg, set off a flurry of controversy when he announced on a smaller stage at the Summer Jam that he was “here to talk about real hip-hop sh-t” and that Minaj’s hit “Starships” was “bullsh-t.”

Though Minaj was set to take the stage only hours afterwards, word of the dis spread quickly. Lil Wayne, who manages Minaj’s label, Young Money, announced via Twitter that he was pulling the set. “Young Money ain’t doing summer jam,” he tweeted, effectively pulling one of the festival’s most hotly anticipated acts.

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Matisyahu Ditches the Yarmulke

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Facebook/Matisyahu

First it was the beard, now it’s the yarmulke.

Matisyahu is currently walking around clean-shaven and with an uncovered head, and this is causing a lot of pain for observant Jewish fans who are lamenting what appears to be the once-Hasidic singer’s rapid slide in to secularism.

In case you missed it, the reggae performer posted on Facebook a photo of himself sans kippah, as well as another of him posing with rapper Wiz Khalifa, who appears to be smoking a joint.

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