The Shmooze

Remembering ‘Price Is Right’ Creator Bob Stewart

By Michael Kaminer

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I was so obsessed with game shows like “The Price Is Right” as a 1970s kid that I would fake illness, skip school, and play along at home. Until today, I had no idea that the show’s creator, Bob Stewart, was born Isidore Steinberg to Russian immigrants. But I should have figured that a show in which people obsess about the cost of goods would have come from a Jewish brain.

Stewart — who changed his name “after being rejected for a television job because he believed the employer was anti-Semitic,” according to The New York Times — died on May 4. Along with “The Price is Right,” his hit shows included “Password,” “To Tell the Truth,” and “The $10,000 Pyramid,” which eventually adjusted for inflation to become “The $100,000 Pyramid.”

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Is Miguel Cotto’s ‘Kosher’ Tattoo Illegal?

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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Cotto hits Mayweather during their WBA super welterweight title fight on May 5. Can you spot the OU tattoo?

While Puerto Rican boxer Miguel Cotto’s fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. this past weekend in Las Vegas was clearly fair (Cotto lost in a unanimous decision), Rabbi Jason Miller is questioning whether it was completely kosher.

Actually, the rabbi was concerned not about what went on in the ring, but rather about what Cotto was wearing in it. Cotto has been sporting an Orthodox Union kosher symbol (a circle with the letter “U” in the middle, often pronounced as O-U) tattoo for some years now. He apparently got it as a tribute to a Jewish friend.

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On Walk of Fame, ScarJo Thanks Jewish Mom

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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Jewish mothers — the butt of so many jokes — don’t always get the respect they deserve. For that reason, the Shmooze commends Scarlett Johansson for specifically thanking her own Jewish mother as she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Wednesday.

Posing in front of her star in a black and white silk print dress, red pumps and an upswept hairdo, ScarJo said it was her mom, Melanie Sloan, whom she had to thank for her success. No stereotypical pushy Jewish mothers came to mind as the actress, 27, explained how her mother has supported her throughout her life and career.

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Video: Camp Ramah Gets Shout-Out on ‘Girls’

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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Zosia Mamet

Whether or not they are fans of the new hit HBO series “Girls,” former Camp Ramah-niks may want to tune into this week’s episode on Sunday at 10:30. In the episode, titled “Camp Friend,” their summer home-away-from-home gets a shout-out. Now, would that technically be product placement or guerilla marketing? Doesn’t matter — either way, it’s 15 minutes…well, more like 15 seconds… of fame for Conservative Judaism’s camping movement.

In the preview clip released by HBO, Shoshana Shapiro (played by David Mamet daughter Zosia Mamet) is stopped unexpectedly on the street by a guy who hopes she’ll recognize him. “Hey, Shoshana! Remember me? It’s me, Matt Kornstein. Camp Ramah,” he says. He goes on to compliment her by telling her, “You led the most intense kitchen raid I ever saw in my time as a junior counselor.” No spoilers here: The Shmooze merely notes that the look exchanged between Shoshana and Matt in that moment is also, to borrow Matt’s word, pretty “intense.”

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Popchips: Racist, But Kosher?

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Popchips, via YouTube
Kutcher as ‘Darl,’ with Poo-poo.

Popchips execs didn’t have cultural sensitivity in mind when they had Ashton Kutcher (with brown-face make-up and a sing-song Indian accent) comically portray a Bollywood producer named Raj in the company’s latest advertising video. The commercial has been yanked and Popchips has apologized to the Indian-American community for its $1.5 million misstep.

The offending Popchips ad banks on the newly single Ashton Kutcher’s buzzed-about status in pop culture, placing him in a mock “World Wide Lovers Dating Service” viral video. If things don’t work out with Mila Kunis (that is, if there really is anything to work out), Kutcher will have to jump back into the dating scene sooner or later, right?

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Even Shimon Peres Can’t Afford To Fly El Al

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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When it comes to international air travel, Israeli President Shimon Peres, is just like the rest of us. He’s getting slammed by airline baggage fees and is shopping around for the best deals. So, that’s why he’s flying Air Canada instead of El Al.

The 88-year-old balked at the $4,700 fee Israel’s national carrier was demanding for transporting his mandatory oxygen tank. Travel regulations for Israeli public officials demand that Peres and his attendant paramedic bring the tank on board with them. El Al had no problem with the president bringing the tank into the cabin, but it said doing so was going to cost him close to $5,000.

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Sacha Baron Cohen Shocks on Aussie ‘Today’ Show

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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‘The Dictator’ arrives in Sydney, Australia.

Sacha Baron Cohen ruined some Australians’ breakfast appetites when he appeared this morning on the country’s Today Show to promote his new movie, “The Dictator.” In fact, he seemed to be making the show’s hosts so uncomfortable that at times it looked like they themselves might toss their cookies right there on the set.

Dressed as Admiral General Aladeen of the fictional Republic of Wadiya and flanked by two scantily clad female “guards,” Baron Cohen began his R-rated conversation with the hosts by bringing regards from Mel Gibson. “He has just become the head of our Department of Race Relations and he’s on the board of the Museum of Intolerance,” the admiral notified them.

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Hillary Clinton (Gently) Turns Down Jason Segel

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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Jason Segel is a guy who looks ahead and thinks big. While complimenting his current co-star Emily Blunt (“The Five Year Engagement”) in an interview with Us Weekly back in March, he mentioned that he’d ultimately like the chance to appear on the big screen together with another special gal.

Segel wasn’t talking about Mila Kunis, Drew Barrymore, Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman, Jennifer Aniston, or any of those other romcom leading ladies. He was thinking really outside the box…well, at least outside of Hollywood. Who does he want to share the marquee with? None other than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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Maggie Gyllenhaal Welcomes Baby Girl

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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Mazel tov to actors Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard on the birth of their second daughter, Gloria Ray! The new sister for their 5-year-old daughter Ramona was born on April 19 in New York.

With no more details forthcoming from the couple’s reps at this time, US Weekly resorted to pulling out archival quotes about parenthood from Gyllenhaal and Sarsgaard to flesh out its exclusive announcement of Gloria’s birth. Back in January 2010 Gyllenhaal talked about the challenges of balancing motherhood and acting. Then, in March of this year, she told USA Today about the trials and tribulations of keeping her pregnancy under wraps until she was into her second trimester. “I didn’t let anyone know until three and a half months this time. I went to film festivals. I’m throwing up in the bathroom and having to keep pretzels in my purse, and having to fit into dresses,” the actress said.

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Did Shimon Peres Serve Non-Kosher Meat?

By Nathan Jeffay

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President Shimon Peres is a proud advocate of Jewish culture and respect for religion. But has he been serving his guests treyf?

The Israeli media is abuzz with the rumor that meat for Peres’s Independence Day celebration was bought from a non-kosher Arab butcher.

The news site NRG reported that the meat was bought in the Arab locale of Abu Gosh, and that a rabbinate official has said that a kashrut inspector approved the meat without being sure of its origins. According to the report, the company Pri Haaretz was called for a hearing at the supervising rabbinate but did not show so had its license revoked. An unofficial English summary of the article can be found here.

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A New Wrinkle in the Sordid Dudu Topaz Case

By Nathan Jeffay

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It is the celebrity tragedy that simply can’t be laid to rest. Back in 2009, Dudu Topaz, the actor, TV personality and one-time star of Israeli entertainment, committed suicide in the Ramle prison cell where he had been held for the preceding three months. He had been charged with — and confessed to — hiring thugs to attack network bosses whom he accused of ditching him in favor of reality television shows.

After the suicide, an angry war of words ensued between Topaz’s family and the media, with the family accusing the media of acting ruthlessly. Now from the prison comes a claim that he had promised a $13,000 inheritance to a cellmate. According to reports the cellmate says that he bought and cooked food for Topaz. He is now suing Topaz’s brother, Mickey Goldenberg, for failing to hand over the money.

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More on Kunis and Kutcher: The First Kiss

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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Poor Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher. The gossip media just won’t give the rumor that they are more than just good friends a rest. People just want to know what’s up with Kunis, who not long ago complained of having no dates, and Kutcher, who recently split from his wife Demi Moore, spending so much quality time together.

And speaking of people, the magazine with that name has suggested that it may not just be chance that has brought the two actors together now. Someone at People went digging through the publication’s archives and found an item from 2001 in which Kunis divulged that her on-screen kiss with Kutcher in an episode of “That 70s Show” in 1998 was actually her first kiss ever. Kunis was 15 at the time and very nervous. “I was like, ‘Oh, he’s so cute, it’s the Calvin Klein model!’” Kunis said in the 2001 interview. “Then I was like, ‘I have to kiss him?’ I was so nervous and uncomfortable. I had the biggest crush on him.”

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Video: Jack Black Shows Off in Hebrew

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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Like so many parents these days, comedic actor and musician Jack Black is having a lot of stress about getting his kids into a good school. Last week, he told Conan O’Brien that he recently resorted to some desperate measures — well, at least desperate Jewish word dropping — to impress the admissions people at a local Jewish day school (he said “Hebrew school,” but from the context, it sounded like he was not talking about an afternoon school).

Asserting his right to “take my kids there,” even though he’s an atheist (“I’m technically a Jew, you know. And my wife is too.”), Black admitted to the talk show host that he was feeling pressure. So, Jack Black being Jack Black, he “put on a bit of a show.”

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N.Y. Federation Breaks Sandwich-Making Record

By JTA

One hundred volunteers from the UJA-Federation of New York broke the Guinness World Record for most sandwiches made for the needy in one hour.

A group of Long Island parents and children made 1,660 sandwiches on Sunday at Temple Beth Sholom in Roslyn Heights, breaking the mark of 1,500. The sandwiches and other food, made on the federation’s Mitzvah Day, were donated to the Queens Jewish Community Council for needy families.

Guinness requires that each sandwich have two components between two slices of bread. The sandwiches were made from soy butter and jelly to ensure that the recipients would have no allergy problems, according to an event spokeswoman.

At least another 100 volunteers wrapped the sandwiches for distribution and attached cards and decorations.

A Guinness representative was on hand to certify the results.


Noa Says Israel Faces ‘Darkest Period’ in History

By Nathan Jeffay

Wiki Commons

Achinoam Nini, the recording artist better known as Noa, is under fire for singing at a joint Israeli-Palestinian event last week to mark Yom Hazikaron, the memorial day for Israeli soldiers and terror victims. The event was organized by Combatants for Peace, a group of Palestinians and Israelis, who have taken an active part in the cycle of violence; Israelis as soldiers in the Israeli army (IDF) and Palestinians as part of the violent struggle for Palestinian freedom.” Now, a campaign by the Israeli right-wing to boycott her is gathering pace.

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Shamed Israeli Soldier Has Friends in High Places

By Nathan Jeffay

Israeli lawmaker Michael Ben-Ari has just come up with the ultimate harebrained idea. The Jewish nation, he believes, is in need of values, and who better to provide them than the Israeli soldier who just shocked the world with his brutality?

There was shame in Israel earlier this month, after a video of Col. Shalom Eisner, deputy commander of the Jordan Valley Brigade, went viral. He was slamming his M-16 in the face of Danish activist Andreas Ias. There was condemnation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, and the army has suspended him pending an investigation.

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Max Greenfield Relives 'SNL'-Themed Bar Mitzvah

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Max Greenfield’s bar mitzvah was clearly a major milestone — as The Shmooze hopes it would be for any young Jewish man. The 31-year-old “New Girl” actor has been telling just about anyone who will listen to him about his “Saturday Night Live”-themed coming-of-age celebration.

On Wednesday night, Greenfield referenced his bar mitzvah again during an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (video below). It was downright adorable as he relived memories of being a 13-year-old on his big night in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.

When Kimmel asked what year the “SNL” bar mitzvah took place, Greenfield answered by recounting which comedians were in the cast at the time. “It was toward the end of Dennis Miller’s run, Dana Carvey was cut, but it was big on Farley and Sandler, and Spade,” he, gesturing a lot with his hands (bar mitzvah aside, there’s no doubt the guy’s Jewish).

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Jason Segel Gets Touchy-Feely

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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Jason Segel has been very into sharing lately. He’s a sensitive and communicative guy, but it might also have to do with generating publicity for his new movie, “The Five-Year Engagement.” The film, which Segel, 32, co-wrote with director Nicholas Stoller, tells the story of an interfaith couple (he’s Jewish, she’s Christian) whose wedding plans keep getting delayed. Segel plays the male lead, and Emily Blunt, 29, plays his fiancée.

First, Segel told David Letterman on Monday that he was forced to lose 35 pounds for the movie. Known for having one of the — if not the — least toned bodies in Hollywood, Segel said that he had to lose the weight to make it convincing that a woman as beautiful as Emily Blunt would find him attractive. “I was told that it had to be conceivable that Emily Blunt would ever choose me to be her husband, which is fair,” he suggested.

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Rabbi Will Perform Drew Barrymore's Marriage

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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Rumors that actress Drew Barrymore is planning to convert to Judaism and that she is pregnant (there have been alleged baby-bump sitings by the paparazzi) are yet to be confirmed. E! News, however, did ascertain that she will be wedding Will Kopelman on June 2, and that the Kopelman family’s rabbi will officiate at the ceremony. The couple has been engaged since January, and has not spoken about their private life to the media.

According to a source to E!, the wedding will take place at Barrymore’s estate in Montecito, California. It will reportedly be an intimate affair with friends and family. “She wants to get married before her bump gets too big, but it’s important to her to marry before she gives birth,” the source asserted. “Drew and Will have spent a lot of time talking to his family about ways to make the ceremony special.” Sounds like there could possibly be a huppah and some glass breaking involved.

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Wealthy Jewish New Yorkers Are Packing Heat

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been zealously fighting for gun control in his city, but it turns out that it’s not just criminals or your average pistol-packing Joe that Hizzoner has to worry about. In fact, quite a few prominent and super-wealthy residents of the Big Apple are packing heat. Many of them are the very the same people who have poured big bucks into helping Bloomberg get reelected for an unprecedented third term, as well as into projects to improve life in the city during his tenure.

The New York Post reports that “dozens of New York City’s billionaires, real-estate moguls and Wall Street CEOs are really loaded,” according to information on gun permits it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Among them are cosmetics billionaire Ronald Lauder, real estate mogul Andrew Farkas, and major land developers Joe Sitt, Larry Gluck and Adam Rose.

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