The Shmooze

Shaq and Salma Hit the JCC

By Simi Lampert

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Shaquille O’Neal

Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal paid a visit to the Jewish Community Center of the North Shore in Marblehead, Mass. on Monday.

The 7-foot-1 superstar was in town shooting promotional scenes for his upcoming Adam Sandler film, Grown Ups 2.

The sports giant visited with the center’s basketball commissioner, posed for a few pics, and turned a humble basketball into a collector’s item with a swipe of his Sharpie’d signature.

Shaq wasn’t the only star to grace the JCC with his presence, either. His more attractive (though comparatively diminutive) co-star Salma Hayek was reportedly around the center Friday night. That was just a few days after a nearby pitstop with Sandler for some fro-yo and fan photos.

Shaq, Salma, and Sandler will appear on the big screen in 2013.


Rashida Jones On Befriending Your Ex

By Kristi Goldade

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Rashida Jones

Rashida Jones, best known for television roles in “Parks and Recreation” and “The Office,” has taken the leap from acting to screenwriting with her new film, “Celeste and Jesse Forever.” Jones, daughter of legendary musician Quincy Jones and Jewish actress Peggy Lipton, told reporters she is usually cast as the “dependable, affable, loving, friend-wife-girlfriend.”

But her character in “Celeste and Jesse Forever” is decidedly more complex. She plays the female half of a couple on the verge of divorce who can’t seem to let the relationship end: They’re friends and they care about each other, but they’ve fallen out of love and must deal with the challenge of life apart.

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Feuding Tycoons Attend Same Synagogue

By Michael Kaminer

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Perelman and Rennert co-own the business that makes Humvee military vehicles.

Don’t expect Ron Perelman and Ira Rennert to exchange gut yontif greetings anytime soon at Fifth Avenue Synagogue, where they’re both members.

The billionaires are embroiled in nasty tit-for-tat lawsuits “alleging the other man siphoned tens of millions from a business they co-own — AM General, the maker of Humvee military vehicles,” Crain’s NY Business reports today.

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Bad News for Israeli Sailing Team

By Simi Lampert

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Gil Cohen (left) and Vered Buskila

Israel’s women’s sailing team is down to 10th place after being disqualified from the second race in the 470 event. Gil Cohen and Vered Buskila finished sixth in the second race, only to be disqualified after the Danish team filed an appeal against them.

Their results would have brought them up to third place among all 470 teams, but instead they dropped to 13th after the results were dropped. Their subsequent results brought them up three more places to 10th. There are four more races before the final scores are decided.

First place currently belongs to Britain, but they are closely followed by New Zealand’s Team Jolly, which includes the Jewish Jo Aleh.


Hitler’s Nephew Begged To Fight for the U.S.

By Michael Kaminer

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William Patrick Hitler (left), the son of Adolf Hitler’s stepbrother Alois, is sworn into the US Navy by Lieutenant Christian Christofferson in New York City on March 6, 1944.

Just because your last name’s Hitler, doesn’t mean you’re a bad guy.

That’s the message in a 1942 letter sent by Adolf Hitler’s nephew to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, asking for permission to enlist in the U.S. military to fight his uncle’s “devilish and pagan regime.”

Yahoo! reported on the letter’s publication this week on LettersofNote.com, which in turn found it in a new book called War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars.

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Aly's Grandparents 'Just Thrilled'

By Andrea Palatnik

Watching your granddaughter perform intricate somersaults and jumps, swinging in the air like a rubber band, landing on the floor from a balance beam after a back jump where her head was only inches away from being hit is not for the faint of heart.

But 71-year-old Susan Faber is simply ecstatic to be Aly Raisman’s savta.

“I’ve always known she was good at gymnastics. I never knew she was this good! I am just thrilled about the whole thing,’’ Faber said in an interview with the Boston Globe.

Faber was watching the all-around women’s gymnastics finals live on her computer, sitting by her twin sister and a dear friend in her hometown of Newton, Mass. Aly, 18, just missed winning an individual bronze medal and finished fourths after helping team U.S.A. win the gold on Tuesday at the London Olympics.

“She’s so smooth under pressure,’’ Faber said. “She seems to inspire them all… She has become a woman I am very proud of.’’

Not far away in Needham, Mass., Marty Raisman, Aly’s paternal grandfather, chose to root in the town auditorium, surrounded by over 400 locals who came together to watch the gymnast perform.

“No matter what … it’s still a great honor,’’ Raisman told the Globe.


Justin Bieber Makes Jewish Teen a Star

By Hannah Rubin

YouTube
Madison Beer

The new Etta James is… 13 years old?

Well, according to Justin Bieber she is. With a few flicks of his fingers last week, the teen heartthrob changed the life of Madison Beer — a 13 year old Jewish singer-songwriter. The twitter correspondence went a little something like this:

Justin: “wow. 13 years old! She can sing. Great job. #futurestar”

Madison: “OMG. I CANT BREATHE. IM GONNA PUKE! IS THIS HAPPENING!?!?!?”

The result?

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Shimon Peres Meets Zuckerberg's Little Sister

By Blair Thornburgh

Arielle Zuckerberg (that’s Mark’s little sister) was all smiles today when she met with Israeli President Shimon Peres for a photo op. The younger Zuckerberg sister (big sis Randi is a reality TV show producer) was on a break from her job with a social media marketing firm for a trip with Taglit-Birthright.

Peres, for his part, seemed pretty pleased, too.

“I greatly respect the Zuckerberg family not only for their creativity but also for the strong tradition which is firmly in their hearts,” he said. “I am proud of Arielle, all her friends who have come with her to Israel and all the participants who take part in Taglit-Birthright.”

The media-savvy Peres posted the statement to — where else? — his Facebook fan page.


Maeve Binchy’s Career Started on a Kibbutz

By Michael Kaminer

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Binchy in Chicago in 2001

Maeve Binchy, the mega-selling Irish author who died this week, set most of her stories in her native land.

But the author, who sold more than 40 million books worldwide, may have owed her career to a stay on a kibbutz. Acording to an obituary in the Los Angeles Times, Dalkey-born Binchy graduated from University College in Dublin in 1960 and went into teaching. At 23, she visited an Israeli kibbutz “and wrote letters home describing the experience. She returned to discover her father had persuaded the Irish Times to publish them.”

Binchy became an editor at the paper in 1968. She didn’t publish her first novel, “Light a Penny Candle,” until 1982, the year she turned 42. Like many of her books, it is set in an Irish village and follows two girls growing up in the aftermath of World War II.

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Video: Spot-On ‘Girls’ Parody

By Hannah Rubin

YouTube

The “Girls” of New York are seeing some competition — from a pair of equally jobless and sex-obsessed “Boys” in L.A.

The latest humor video to hit the net — a trailer for a “Girls” spoof called “Boys” — satirically follows the lives of 20-something-boys trying to make it in L.A. The joke trailer is pretty funny, and successfully captures the essential zeitgeist of the characters and concepts that it mocks.

Poking fun at the Hollywood nepotism that is ‘Girls’ casting (Zosia Mamet? Allison Williams?), the spoof stars Wolf Blitzer’s son, Bear, and Daniel Craig’s son, Craig Craig.

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Roseanne Barr: Best Roast Ever

By Blair Thornburgh

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Comedy Central’s got a hell of a spitfire for its next roast-ee. Roseanne Barr, comedienne, erstwhile Green party presidential candidate and self-proclaimed “fat old Jew” is next on the docket for the merciless mockery-fest, which will air August 12.

Grade-A roasters like Sharon Stone and the sharp-tongued Carrie Fisher will be on hand to rip into Roseanne, with Katey Segal, Seth Green, and a slew of other comedians rounding out the ranks of riffers. But despite the considerable comedic talent on hand, poking fun at the 59-year-old Barr seems to be more of a “this stuff writes itself” situation: besides her ill-fated presidential bid, she tried (unsuccessfully) to run a macadamia nut farm in Hawaii last year for a reality show, and most recently ticked off Chick-Fil-A by redubbing them “chickens4christ,” among other less savory nicknames.

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Andy From 'Weeds' To Co-Star With Monkey

By Samantha Malone

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Any fan of the cult-hit Showtime series “Weeds” will recognize Justin Kirk as Andy, the love-him-then-hate-him-then-love-him-again Jewish brother-in-law of the show’s star matriarch, Nancy Botwin. In the show, Andy throws around Jewish jokes and stereotypes non-stop as he searches for his place in the dysfunctional drug-dealing family. (And while he might not identify as Jewish in the same way his character does, Kirk himself has Russian-Jewish roots, on his mother’s side.)

The Shmooze loves Kirk on “Weeds” but isn’t quite sure what to make of the fact that he’ll be starring in the new NBC series “Animal Practice” in the fall. In the show, Kirk plays George Coleman, a veterinarian who prefers the company of animals over their human counterparts. In times of trouble, Coleman turns to his capuchin monkey, alternately ignoring and butting heads with his ex-girlfriend (and owner of his clinic).

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Harvey Weinstein Calls for Film Violence Summit

By Michael Kaminer

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Is Harvey Weinstein planning to spend the rest of his career making romantic comedies?

The legendary movie mogul behind “some of the most violent movies ever made” is apparently feeling contrite after the Colorado massacre of filmgoers attending a midnight screening of the latest “Batman” installment, the New York Daily News reports.

“I think as filmmakers we should sit down — the Marty Scorseses, the Quentin Tarantinos and hopefully all of us who deal in violence in movies — and discuss our role in that,” Weinstein told the Huffington Post.

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William Shatner To Host Trekkie Reality Show

By Blair Thornburgh

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Once upon a time, it seemed like William Shatner could sum up his attitude towards his avid (rabid?) fanbase by paraphrasing a certain Star Trek doctor: “Dammit, man, I’m an actor, not a space captain!” But these days, the spry 81-year-old welcomes attention from square pegs who flock in costume to Trek conventions and stack their shelves with mint-condition miniatures: After all, they make for great television. The outerworldly renaissance man will now add raconteur to his considerable resume as he premieres the documentary-series-cum-entreaty “Get a Life!” which will delve into the lives and psyches of hard-core Trekkies.

“I wanted to do it because it’s an interesting subject matter, the question of who goes to conventions and why do they go to conventions,” Shatner, who coined the titular catchphrase in an SNL skit, told the New York Daily News. “It’s one that the performers are always asking: ‘Who’s in the audience? Why are they there?’”

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Drake’s Scout Sues for Royalties

By Margaret Eby

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The beleaguered hip-hop star Drake, already embroiled in the aftermath of his club brawl with Chris Brown, has another lawsuit on his hands.

James Prince, the Texas scout who “discovered” Drake’s rapping talent, is taking Drake’s managers to court over failure to cough up royalties. According to the New York Daily News, Prince’s attorney is insisting on an accounting of Drake’s recent chart-busting sales, and keeps getting shuffled around by various members of Drake’s label.

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Video: Does Matisyahu Look Like Bieber?

By Simi Lampert

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God exists and he has a sense of humor. Or at least the god of technology does. On Jimmy Kimmel Live yesterday, YouTube, TV and Twitter converged in a fabulous segment called Mean Tweets. Throw in some love-to-hate-them celebrities, and hilarity ensued.

Apparently, Mean Tweets is where Jimmy Kimmel sits celebrities down in front of a potted plant and has them read particularly, well, mean tweets that someone has posted about them. Ostensibly the message is to consider that celebrities are people with feelings, too. Really the message is that the more a celebrity can laugh at himself, the more likable he becomes.

To the Shmooze’s delight, Matisyahu was featured in yesterday’s segment, bringing this priceless series to our attention.

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Jason Alexander Speaks Up for Gun Control

By Kristi Goldade

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There’s an infographic that’s been floating around Facebook. It shows two diagrams labeled “illegal” and “legal.” One depicts French cheese and the other, an arsenal of automatic weapons.

Illogically, the illegal stamp is not meant for the deadly weaponry; it is for the cheese. The cheeses are made from raw milk, which has been linked to two deaths in fifteen years. They are banned from the United States. The machine guns? They’re responsible for 450,000 deaths in that same time frame.

It is in this spirit that Jason Alexander commented on gun control after the Colorado massacre. In a 1,700 word tweet that has earned him both support and criticism (taunts like “hypocritical liberal guy” and worse, anti-Semitic digs about Israel — see the comments section of this New York Daily News story for more), the Seinfeld star spoke about the actual purpose of automatic weapons.

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Iran Nuke Scientists Get Heavy Metal Blast

By JTA

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An Iranian nuclear scientist complained to a cybersecurity expert via email that the AC/DC song “Thunderstruck” was playing from computers at two of the country’s nuclear facilities.

According to the Times of Israel, computers at the Nantaz and Fordo facilities blasted the heavy metal song at full volume in the middle of the night last weekend. The virus that caused the song to play also shut down part of the network.

The cybersecurity expert, Mikko Hypponen, the chief research officer at the Finnish security firm F-Secure, could not confirm the reports.

The head of Iran’s Information Technology and Communications Organization, Ali Hakim Javadi, called on Wednesday for international condemnation of cyberattacks on Wednesday.


Bayreuth Opera Drops Swastika-Tattooed Singer

By Blair Thornburgh

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Cover to the Bayreuth Festival brochure of 1884, the year after Richard Wagner’s death.

It seems that if you want to play Wagner’s Dutchman on stage, a Nazi tattoo just ain’t gonna fly. Russian singer Evgeny Nikitin withdrew from the titular role of the famed German opera on Saturday after a July 20 television broadcast showcasing his hard-rocking past as drummer in a Russian metal band included a clear view of his tattooed torso — including a large swastika spanning the right of his chest.

Nikitin had originally told the German Aspekte TV program that his dermatological decoration was “just part of our underground culture.”

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Bashar Al-Assad As Model Dad?

By Nathan Jeffay

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Al-Assad in 2004

His horrific actions against his own people are well known, as is his hatred of Israel and funding for terror against Israeli targets. But in a set of photographs obtained by a British newspaper, Syria’s just-clinging-on-to-power President Bashar al-Assad is portrayed with his wife and kids as the ultimate relaxed, Western-oriented happy parent.

The 14-photograph album published in the Daily Telegraph shows the al-Assads doing normal family things: taking care of the kids, eating at a restaurant, playing and cycling. It also presents them as relaxed and down to earth in the kind of circumstances that most families don’t find themselves, such as on a posh presidential jet.

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