The Shmooze

Fashion Week: Zac Posen's Runway

By Alyson Krueger

Fashion luminary Zac Posen is showing his new line this evening at New York’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

The son of a corporate lawyer and artist in Manhattan, Posen always knew he wanted to design fashion. As a child he would take yarmulkes from his grandparents’ synagogue and make dresses for dolls with them. When he was a sophomore in high school he interned with Nicole Miller and then worked under the guidance of a curator at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for three years. And all of this was before he was accepted to study at the Central Saint Martins College in London, famously known for training many of fashion’s big wigs. Posen founded his own company in 2001, just as he was celebrating his 21st birthday. His first show, in 2002, was located in a former synagogue on the Lower East Side. But since its beginning Posen’s company has been fraught with financial problems, it saw too much growth, too quickly, and it received mixed reviews from the fashion industry.

Posen is known for making tiny little cocktail dresses and mermaid-shaped dresses that hug the waist and then flow at the bottom. “Mr. Posen’s signature collections have evolved from vampish, old-Hollywood-style bias-cut silk dresses and flirty butterfly chiffons into intricately themed gowns that take their inspiration from something simple in nature —seashells, raffia or tumbleweed, for example,” according to a mini bio in the New York Times.

So what to expect from Posen at today’s show? Something glamorous, mysterious and fun, and hopefully very, very surprising.


A Brazilian Bar Mitzvah Video Goes Viral

By Andrea Palatnik

Forget about the religious ceremony: A bar or bat mitzvah is an opportunity for the family to show off its riches, with lavish parties in fancy hotels and enough food to feed a small town. Right?

Well, at least that’s how I remember it, growing up in Rio in the 1990’s.

Every weekend there would be two or three bar mitzvahs, and parents who knew each other too well in such a small community (composed of mostly Ashkenazi Reform Jews) would ostentatiously compete to see who could serve the most expensive champagne; who could hire the most popular band; who could book the swankiest venue.

Then, in those years before the mass adoption of digital photography and video, bar and bat mitzvah parties began to feature a usually embarrassing tradition (for the boy or girl): A “surprise” slideshow for all guests to see, right before dinner was served, featuring embarrassing childhood pictures. There would be those classic shots of you as a naked baby trying to lick your own feet and of you as a toddler during a potty training session; or a photo of your mom with a weird hairdo from the 80’s holding you as you blow the candles on your first birthday cake. But that was about it, and everybody marveled at the time at the corny PowerPoint effects.

Read more


Fashion Week in Legal Terms

By Alyson Krueger

Alyson Krueger
Models at the Fashion Law Institute show.

This morning I attended a Fashion Week event, put on by the Fashion Law Institute in New York City. In many ways it was like any other show. Models, dressed in tiny floral bikinis and metallic vests, posed in the center of the room, while viewers sipped champagne and snapped photos. But this event was celebrating something more than new designs and creativity; it was applauding the progress the Fashion Law Institute has made in protecting the legal rights of both models and designers.

I spoke to Doreen Small, a stylish, enthusiastic professor at the Institute, who is from the Lower East Side, and “as Jewish as they come.” Wearing a silky white dress and black glasses lined with gemstones, she is both a fashion guru and a lawyer. The Institute is an organization within Fordham University School of Law that offers six or seven courses to law school students who want to work in the fashion industry. “It’s not a monolithic body of law,” said Small. “You need to know about intellectual property, copyrights trademarks, right of publicity, counterfeiting issues, sponsorships, endorsement issues, real estate issues, tax, labeling, advertising, modeling and immigration.”

Read more


Fashion Week: Max Azria's Runway

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images
Max Azria with a model at his Thursday Fashion Week show.

Models strutted the runway at Fashion Week at Lincoln Center today showcasing BCBGMAXAZRIA’s Spring 2013 collection, inspired by photographer Helmut Newton’s test Polaroid shots from a trip to San Tropez in 1978.

Max Azria’s wife Lubov Azria, who helps him design both the BCBGMAXAZRIA and the Hervé Léger lines, explained prior to the show that the graphic black-and-white contrast in the Newton photos would be evident in their new collection. She also predicted that dresses would be the highlight of the show, and of all of Fashion Week. “The dresses are a must-have,” said Lubov, BCBG’s chief creative officer, adding that the dresses play off of masculinity and femininity, with the juxtaposition of leather and lace.

Max Azria calls his new collection “fearless,” and in many ways this has as much — if not more — to do with business than with art. In explaining how the economy has impacted his work, he said, “Today we have to be totally crazy and make stuff that stands out. It takes so much more to get a consumer’s attention because they’re more careful about how they spend their money. We also try and make things very precise, bold and basic so that a woman can wear one item for a lot of different occasions. The color black rules everything.

The 63-year-old Azria, born in Tunisia, began in his career in France, where he was raised. In 1981, he arrived in Los Angeles, where he opened several women’s apparel retail boutiques. He launched BCBGMAXAZRIA in 1989, naming his company for the French slang phrase “bon chic, bon genre” (good style, good attitude). His first runway collection was shown at New York Fashion Week in 1996. Today, BCBGMAXAZRIA and Hervé Léger (Azria acquired the French couturier in 1998) are two of several labels under the Azria umbrella.

Read more


Bar Rafaeli Over the Moon

By Kristi Goldade

Getty Images
Bar Rafaeli for Passionata

Bar Rafaeli’s new photo shoot has us over the moon.

Passionata, a French lingerie company, chose the Israeli supermodel to be the face (and, of course, body) for their brand. The eclectic mix of pictures features Rafaeli as a “lunar swinger” in a “space hammock” that looks like a crescent moon. Perhaps in homage to Israel’s El Al Airlines, she posed as “the hottest stewardess ever” atop some luggage.

Though Refaeli’s tenure as Passionata girl hasn’t caused any controversy, her recent appearance in a promo video for the Israeli start-up MyCheck caused a stir, with some saying it depicted date rape.

The scene in question shows Refaeli eating poisoned cauliflower and ending up in a darkened kitchen. MyCheck’s CEO Shlomit Kugler doesn’t seem too bothered, saying, “Our aim is to entertain, not to hurt anyone’s feelings.”

Rafaeli, an investor in the company, said of the promo: “I enjoyed working on the MyCheck commercial. It was one of the funniest experiences of my life.”


Judy Blume's Cancer Diagnosis

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images
Judy Blume

Children’s book author Judy Blume has been diagnosed with cancer. She revealed the news in an apology on her blog to fans who had hoped to meet her at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival in July. She did not stick around after the premier of ‘Tiger Eyes’ (adapted from her 1981 novel and directed by her son Lawrence Blume), to greet audience members and sign books because she had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, and her doctors had ordered her to stay away from crowds and not expose herself to germs prior to her mastectomy surgery scheduled for a few days later.

In her highly candid blog post, the 74-year-old author of beloved pre-teen classics like ‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,’ ‘Deenie’ and ‘Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself,’ detailed the process by which she learned of her diagnosis of ductal carcinoma and chose a mastectomy and breast reconstruction over a lumpectomy and radiation.

Read more


Natalie and ScarJo Hit the Convention

By Simi Lampert

Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson will be speaking tomorrow at the Democratic National Convention, according to news reports. Portman, a longtime supporter of President Barack Obama, is an unsurprising pick. But the choice of fellow actress Johansson, whose support has been far less public, is a pleasant surprise.

More pleasant, we predict, than Clint Eastwood’s appearance at the Republican National Convention. We can be fairly certain that no one will allow any extra chairs onstage this Thursday, when the ladies are expected to speak.

Read more


Lena Dunham's Jewish Boyfriend

By Naomi Zeveloff

Lena Dunham, creator of ‘Girls,’ is canoodling with Jack Antonoff, the Jewish guitarist for Fun. According to an upcoming issue of US Weekly, leaked to the New York Post, the two are trying to keep it a secret. “They have a good time when they can get together,” a source told the magazine.

Antonoff is a rising indie darling; his band is best known for its anthem “We Are Young.” According to an interview with HEEB, he attended the Solomon Schechter Day School until the 8th grade, and then transferred to public school where he was teased mercilessly for being gay (he’s not), an experience that made him a vocal supporter of gay rights.

Read more


Are Ya Ready for Some (Jewish) Football?

By Seth Berkman

getty images
Taylor Mays

The National Football League kicks off the 2012 season tonight in East Rutherford, N.J., when the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants host the Dallas Cowboys. This year, a handful of Jewish players will be looking to make an impact for their teams on the road to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, on February 3.

Leading the way is Taylor Mays, who plays for the Cincinnati Bengals. Mays, who is African-American, was raised by a Jewish mother. His father is Stafford Mays, a former lineman for the St. Louis Cardinals. Mays, who had a football-themed bar mitzvah, once told his college web site that, “I don’t think at the time I really understood what [having a bar mitzvah] meant. Now, looking back on it, I feel like I have come a long way in regards to maturity and becoming an adult. I think it helped me do that.”

Other Jewish players to keep an eye on include offensive lineman Gabe Carimi, a 2011 first round pick by the Chicago Bears and his teammate, punter Adam Podlesh. The Cleveland Browns recently named offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz a starter in his rookie season; Mitchell’s brother, Geoff, plays for the Minnesota Vikings.

Among the other Jewish starters are Brian de la Puente, a center for the New Orleans Saints, Antonio Garay, a defensive tackle for the San Diego Chargers, and Erik Lorig, a fullback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Read more


Live! With Kelly Picks Michael Strahan as Co-host

By Naomi Zeveloff

Getty Images
Michael Gelman
It’s not everyday that the Shmooze gets to write about Live! With Kelly, arguably one of the best shows on morning television, but today is an exception because Kelly Ripa has finally settled on a co-host: former New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan.

Key to the selection process was Michael Gelman, who has been producing Live! since Regis Philbin’s heyday. Philbin was the one who made Gelman into an off-screen character on the show, teasing him, humiliating him and at one point, launching him from a cannon on New York’s Columbus Avenue. In 1995, the Anti-Defamation League took issue with the taunting when Philbin co-host Kathie Lee Gifford characterized Gelman as “a male, Jewish, single guy, living in New York City.” “One wonders why Kathie Lee Gifford needed to identify the religion of her producer,” said ADL National Director, Abraham H. Foxman. “Surely, Ms. Gifford must understand the power of the medium of television and the dangers inherent in her statements.”

Read more


My Favorite Schmidt Episode of New Girl

By Kristi Goldade

Getty Images
Max Greenfield

Max Greenfield — who plays Schmidt, the “tightly wound” but fun loving roommate on Fox’s television show, New Girl — has had quite the summer.

First he got nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Supporting Actor category. Then Gwyneth Paltrow said he was “the kind of guy you lusted after at your cousin’s Bar Mitzvah.” She invited him to document his red carpet walk for her website, GOOP.

Amid his hard-earned excitement, Greenfield found time to discuss his favorite episode of last season with New York Magazine’s Vulture blog.

He choose the episode “Control,” which featured Schmidt at his neurotic fussiest. Jess (Zooey Deschanel) brought home a china hutch from the street. Schmidt, in a moment Greenfield called his “favorite of the season,” destroyed the hutch. This led Jess to drag him to the beach for relaxation, where he does a 180, abandoning prototypical control for patchouli and bongo drums. All ends well when the roommates convince him to return to his sweet, metrosexual self.

And this is where the Shmooze begs to differ.

Read more


Jewish Celebs Hobnob with Republicans

By Samantha Malone

Getty Images
Evan Handler was at the RNC, even though he ‘despises’ Republicans.

It seems that Obama has no shortage of Jewish celeb supporters such as Tory Burch, Jesse Eisenberg and Ben Stiller, to name a few. But Jewish celebs have been showing up at the Republican National Convention. As the RNC wraps up, some familiar names have surfaced:

Rockstar Rabbi Meir Soloveichik was asked to deliver the opening night invocation of the convention on Tuesday. Comedian Andy Kindler has been working as a correspondent for David Letterman at this week’s convention. Geraldo Rivera interviewed the gospel quartet, The Oak Ridge Boys. And Sex and the City actor Evan Handler, who said he ‘despises’ Republicans, was there with Carol Kane and Rachel Harris to support the non-partisan group, ‘The Creative Coalition.’

Will Romney be able to schmooze his way into getting more support from the Jewish faction? Maybe these Jewish celebs will grease the wheel.


Edon Pinchot Bounced From 'Talent'

By JTA

Edon Pinchot, a kipah-wearing Jewish day school student singer and pianist, was eliminated in the semi-finals of “America’s Got Talent.”

Three of the 12 acts that performed in the first set of semifinalists were sent through to the finals during the show broadcast on Wednesday.

Edon had won cheers from the live audience and accolades from the judges following his performance on Tuesday’s broadcast.

Edon, 14, of Skokie, Ill., performed One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” on the popular NBC reality show and received a standing ovation from the live audience. Judge Howie Mandel told Edon that he is “the best singer of the competition.”

The teen was among 12 acts performing live Tuesday night. Other semifinalists included singers, a dancer, a dog ventriloquist, an acrobat, a mind reader and a comedian.

Read more


Howie Mandel's New Gig

By Samantha Malone

Getty Images
Howie Mandel

Howie Mandel is trying to bring the holidays to America all year round. Host of the popular game show ‘Deal or No Deal,’ Mandel will produce and host a new show based on the holiday game favorite, White Elephant in which players choose a present from a pile full of wrapped gifts. They unwrap it and have to decide whether they would like to keep their prize or take a risk by choosing another gift from the pile.

Mandel posted on reality TV casting website, realitywanted.com to find contestants.

NBC has already ordered seven episodes of the new show. Shmooze would like to know: how are you supposed to fill an entire time slot with people choosing gifts and deciding if they should keep them or take their chances? Although, the show will probably bet on the contestants trading their mediocre prizes (think $200 in cash), and ending up with something no good. (A sock maybe? But just the one sock, not even a pair.) That would certainly be good for a few laughs. Whether Mandel can sprinkle some of his game show magic on this new venture remains to be seen.


Edon Pinchot Steals Show — Again

By Hannah Rubin

Singing alongside a talking dog and nude glittery dancers, Edon Pinchot did it again. Performing to a standing ovation, the ‘Jewish Justin Bieber’ stole the show in the semifinal round of America’s Got Talent.

After the clapping (and shrieking girls) had died down, Judge Howie Mandel proclaimed Pinchot “the best singer of the competition” with a performance that was both “amazing” and “beautiful.”

Sharon Osbourne gushed as well. “I thought the song choice was spot on. You put in everything. It was perfect.”

Even Howard Stern, whose excessively ornery demeanor draws parallels to American Idol’s Simon Cowell, had something nice to say. “I imagine a lot of 13-year old girls are going to be voting for you,” he commented, before quickly adding in that he personally found himself to be “a little bit bored.” The comment was greeted by a theater full of booing.


Edon, 1st Semifinal ~ America's Got Talent 2012 by HumanSlinky

Read more


Judd Apatow's Tech-Savvy Teen

By Kristi Goldade

Getty Images
Maude and Judd Apatow

“Maude Apatow is addicted to technology, even though she knows it is destroying her,” pronounces the Twitter bio of Maude Apatow.

Remember her? She played Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann (her actual mother)’s daughter in ‘Knocked Up.’ Maude and her little sister were the two giggly blonde girls who teased Seth Rogen, the clueless Daddy-to-be.

Well, she’s sort of grown up — past the pajama party stage at least — and on to nail art, Doc Martins and dissecting the dynamics of girl friendships. At 14, she’s gotten famous enough to snag a New York Times profile last weekend (which compared her favorably to Larry David) and 62,000 followers on Twitter.

With deadpan tweets like, “I think I might get into a fistfight at this bar mitzvah,” the precocious 14-year-old has taken after her funnyman father, Judd Apatow.

And her fan base reaches well beyond her peers. Maude has earned respect from author Judy Blume, who said she felt similar angst and ennui as an adolescent — as well as Zooey Deschanel and the HelloGiggles team, where Maude publishes essays and interviews — “I don’t remember the first time I met Paul Rudd, but I do remember seeing him make my sister cry…”

Mr. Apatow said he hopes his daughter’s success will encourage her to write more. The pair spent this summer filming a sequel to ‘Knocked Up’ called ‘This is 40.’


Penn State Axes Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline'

By Seth Berkman

Getty Images
Neil Diamond

Penn State University officials are removing Neil Diamond’s hit, “Sweet Caroline,” from their in-game rotation at sporting events, according to the New York Daily News. The song includes the popular lyrics, “Hands, touchin’ hands/Reachin’ out/touchin’ me/touchin’ you,” which could be viewed as inappropriate in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Sandusky was an assistant football coach under Joe Paterno at Penn State for 31 seasons. Last June, Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts and will most likely receive a life sentence in prison.

However, Penn State officials said the lyrics were not the reason for the nix. Greg J. Myford, Penn State’s associate athletic director of business relations & communications, said in a statement, “‘Sweet Caroline’ has been brought up in recent years as to whether or not it should remain a part of the playlist. We hear from fans each year on whether or not we should continue it, given that it happens to be played in so many other professional and collegiate venues and has no real origination here at Penn State.”

For reasons not fully understood, during the last decade, Neil Diamond has become a playlist staple in stadiums across the United States. “Sweet Caroline,” which was released in 1969, is best known for its sing-along during the middle of the eighth inning at Boston Red Sox games, but there are also popular renditions sung at college football games across the country.

In 2007, Diamond said the song was inspired by Caroline Kennedy.


Natalie Portman Stumps for Obama in Black

By Simi Lampert

Natalie Portman stumped for President Obama on Saturday at the Nevada Women’s Summit, where she spoke about the president’s commitment to women’s rights.

Portman has a history of flexing her political muscle. In 2008, she defended Hillary Clinton against sexist barbs and then made phone calls for Democratic nominee, Obama. Four years before that, Portman took up John Kerry’s campaign as a cause.

In case you’re wondering what Portman wore while discussing politics (a collared blouse and pants), what color they were (matching black), or what Babble’s famecrawler thought of it (“uber-cute”), you can easily find that with a quick Google search.

But if you actually want to know what she said, scroll all the way down and click on the British Daily Mail article which goes into detail about her remarks. “The president has proven that he is a strong advocate for women and a defender of the issues that are important to women and their families, from affordable health care to fair pay and quality public education,” she said according to the Daily Mail.


Art Shamsky Named Israel Hardball 'Ambassador'

By Seth Berkman

Art Shamsky

Facing the likes of David Wright, David Ortiz, and Robinson Cano, Israel would need a miracle to win the 2013 World Baseball Classic. But they’ll have the right man on their side.

Retired Mets great Art Shamsky will go to bat as Ambassador for Baseball in Israel.

Shamsky was a key member of the 1969 “Miracle” Mets, who won the World Series in only their eighth season as a franchise. Prior to 1969, the Mets were a model of futility, with a combined record of 394-737. They never finished above ninth place in the National League.

Shamsky hit .538 in the 1969 World Series, as the Amazin’s topped the Baltimore Orioles in five games.

Shamsky was also the manager of the Modi’in Miracle for the 2007 Israel Baseball League season, and led the team to the championship game. A member of the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Shamsky has been a leading advocate for the growth of the game in Israel, and will watch the national team try and quality for the World Baseball Classic beginning September 19 in Jupiter, Fla.

The team is managed by former major leaguer Brad Ausmus, and includes other former players Shawn Green and Gabe Kapler.


Toni Braxton's Jewish Grandma

By Michael Kaminer

Getty Images
Toni Braxton

Could Braxton Family Values include observing Shabbos?

R & B hitmaker Toni Braxton, whose family stars in its eponymous WEtv series, has revealed she has Jewish roots.

In an interview with The New York Times, the Grammy winner said she’s “still surprised by the revelation that her grandmother was Jewish.”

“I didn’t understand it as a kid – ‘My grandma eats differently than we do sometimes,’” she told the Times. During Braxton’s Broadway run in Beauty and the Beast, the singer recalled, “my grandma said something about ‘the sun’s going down, and I should be in,’ and I was like, ‘Grandma, what are you, Jewish?’ I mean, I knew she was Caucasian.”

Braxton holds her own religious convictions. In a 2009 interview with Sister2Sister magazine, the avowedly Christian singer explained that she and Alec Mazo would clash about his atheism behind the scenes during the hit ABC show Dancing with the Stars.

“He was a nice guy (but) I’m a Christian and he’s an atheist,” she told Sister2Sister. “He’d say things and I would say things. Some days I felt sorry for him.”

No word about whether she’ll consider embracing her Hebraic side.


Would you like to receive updates about new stories?






















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.