The Shmooze

Natalie Portman Is Bad at Sign Language

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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What’s some flubbed sign language when you’re one half of one of the hottest couples around? The answer is it’s no big deal.

Although the press has pointed out that Natalie Portman, along with actor Johnny Depp, made some serious blunders as they signed the lyrics in Paul McCartney’s video for his new song, “My Valentine,” the public is inclined to commend her for reaching out to the deaf community. The British Deaf Association noted that at one point Depp signed “enemy” when he meant to sign “valentine.” And both he and Portman accidentally, and somewhat embarrassingly, signed “tampon” when they meant to sign “appear.”

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Kunis and Kutcher: Could It Be?

By Michael Kaminer

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Have you been starved for news about Jewish starlet Mila Kunis since her hammy evil-ballerina turn in 2010’s Black Swan?

People.com has come to the rescue with a report today that the Ukraine-born Kunis “enjoyed some serious alone time together” last week with Ashton Kutcher, the dashing “Two and a Half Men” star and former Mr. Demi Moore.

We know — you want details. People is happy to oblige. “The longtime friends and ‘That ’70s Show’ costars went on a three-day getaway to the coastal town of Carpinteria, Calif., just south of Santa Barbara. While away, Kutcher, 34, and Kunis, 28, dined on sushi, shopped for fruit and flowers and spent plenty of time in private,” People alleges.

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No ‘Solitary Man’: Neil Diamond Ties the Knot

By Michael Kaminer

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Neil McNeil?: The happy couple in 2011.

She’s no “Sweet Caroline,” but 42-year-old Katie McNeil has become the third Mrs. Neil Diamond after a weekend wedding in Los Angeles, Reuters reports. She’s also Diamond’s manager.

Diamond, 71, confirmed the marriage in a tweet yesterday: “Katie and I got married last night, we wish you all could’ve been there. It was magical!” He signed the message, “Love, Neil.” No word on whether the couple opted for Jewish nuptial rituals.

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Ricky Gervais Stands By His Anne Frank Joke

By Michael Kaminer

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L’affaire Gervais continues to snowball. And despite an open letter from comedian Ricky Gervais in London’s Jewish Chronicle this weekend, the controversy over his Holocaust jokes keeps intensifying.

Some backstory: As the Forward reported last week, Gervais went off about the Holocaust and Anne Frank on an early-April episode of the Jon Stewart Show. Among the comic gems Gervais shared: a line saying the Franks “were hiding in the attic to avoid paying rent to their landlord.” He also went on and on — while grinning — about how he couldn’t understand why the Nazis had not found Anne earlier. “Nazis must be stupid,” he exclaimed.

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What Do Bibi and Chelsea Handler Have in Common?

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Time

Has Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu been reading that classic self-help book by Dale Carnegie? It would appear, at least according to Time magazine’s latest list, that he has indeed been winning friends and influencing people. For the second year and a row, Bibi has been named by Time as one of “The100 Most Influential People in the World.”

The magazine calls Netanyahu a “transformational leader.” Ranking Bibi among the world’s great leaders, Eric Cantor, who wrote a short article about the Prime Minister for the list, described him as “one of these iconic Israelis, a strong, determined leader who has excelled during a lifetime of service to the state of Israel.” Cantor further noted that Netanyahu “deserves credit for drawing attention to the threat Iran poses to Israel, to America, to the region, to its own people and to the free world.”

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Apatow and Stern Still Friends After Twitter Feud

By Michael Kaminer

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Apatow: ‘I’m [Stern’s] biggest fan.’

If you’ve lost sleep over the “feud” between Howard Stern and Judd Apatow, rest easy. The Jewish comedy behemoths have buried the hatchet after a vicious Twitter smackdown supposedly sparked by Apatow’s criticism of Stern’s “America’s Got Talent” gig.

Last Tuesday, Apatow tweeted, “I hate to say it but I don’t have much interest in discussions about america’s got talent [sic]. I tried. It is just too much synergy. @sternshow,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

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Shimon Peres's DNA Could Help You Live Until 120

By Nathan Jeffay

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Forever Young?: Peres kisses Shakira in 2011.

Whatever Israelis think of his politics, most agree that President Shimon Peres is a national wonder. At 88 he is the world’s oldest de-jure head of state, and seems to have endless energy. Just last night, he stood proud at the state’s Yom Hashoah event and told his own family’s story, movingly, with the energy of a much younger man.

And it turns out that a few years down the line, you may have the secret of long life implanted in you in the form of a Shimon Peres gene.

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Mara Wilson Hated Being a Movie Star

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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Former child star Mara Wilson is letting people know that acting and celebrity are not all that they are cracked up to be. Us Weekly took note of a blog post that the now 24-year-old Wilson wrote in March on the subject and shared its main points with readers yesterday.

Although many of us have fond memories of cute little Wilson, with her bangs and impish grin, from family-friendly fare like “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” and “Matilda,” the actress herself doesn’t. “Film acting is not very fun,” she writes. “Doing the same thing over and over again until, in the director’s eyes, you ‘get it right,’ does not allow for very much creative freedom. The best times I had on film sets were the times the director let me express myself, but those were rare.”

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Bono: 'Hope Springs Eternal'

By Haaretz

getty images
Bono

U2 front man Bono surprised Israeli passers-by earlier this month with his sudden visit to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

On Wednesday, BuzzFeed published the note Bono left behind at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel, which consists of a poem about how “hope is like a faithful dog,” and his sketch of “a dog called Hope.”

“In Jerusalem, hope springs eternal,” the poem read.

“Hope is like a faithful dog, sometimes she runs ahead of me to check the future, to sniff it out and then I call to her: Hope, Hope, come here, and she comes to me. I pet her, she eats out of my hand and sometimes she stays behind, near some other hope maybe to sniff out whatever was. Then I call her my Despair. I call out to her. Here, my little Despair, come here and she comes and snuggles up, and again I call her Hope.”

He signed, “With great thanks for great room in great hotel in great city, Bono.”

For more, go to Haaretz.com


Roseanne Barr Calls for End to Mommy Wars

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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The last time The Shmooze noticed what the outspoken Roseanne Barr was up to, she had just announced that she was running for the Green Party’s presidential nomination. Now, we’ve taken note that she has inserted herself into the recent debate ignited by Hilary Rosen’s comments about Ann Romney’s “never having worked a day in her life.”

“I almost got sick to my stomach when I heard Hilary Rosen’s unfortunate words regarding Mrs. Mitt Romney,” Barr wrote in an April 16 piece for the Daily Beast. “It’s a shame that Rosen lobbed the Romney campaign a fat political softball they could smack over the gender fence. It’s especially unfortunate because Romney was on the ropes with American women, at least the ones with an IQ higher than Ramblin’ Rick Santorum’s. After the Republicans had alienated at least half the voting public by all but condemning birth control, suddenly Rosen’s remark enabled them to self-righteously assume the role of defenders of American motherhood,” she continued without mincing words.

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Calling Out Ricky Gervais for Anti-Semitism

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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Jon Stewart seemed uncomfortable with some of the things guest Ricky Gervais was saying about famous Holocaust victim Anne Frank and the Nazis on the Daily Show on April 11. But while Stewart took it no further than trying to humorously push back at Gervais during their broadcast conversation, a guy in Boston named Dan Bloom is taking Gervais’s remarks more seriously. He has started a petition and is calling for “a worldwide boycott of any TV shows showcasing the sick anti-Semitic humor of Ricky Gervais and [Gervais’s professional colleague] Karl Pilkington, both ugly and sick anti-Semitic Brits.”

What upset Bloom so much was Gervais’s telling Stewart that Pilkington thought that Anne Frank and her family were hiding in the attic to avoid paying rent to their landlord. He also went on and on — while grinning— about how he couldn’t understand why the Nazis had not found Anne earlier. “Nazis must be stupid,” he exclaimed.

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Aung San Suu Kyi Wins Elie Wiesel Award

By Michael Kaminer

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Political unrest at home will keep her from attending in person. But Aung San Suu Kyi, the iconic political activist who endured years of persecution before winning a seat in Burma’s parliament this year, will be honored with The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Elie Wiesel Award at a glittering ceremony at National Harbor in Maryland on April 18.

According to a press release, Suu Kyi is being recognized “for her exceptional courage and leadership in resisting tyranny and advancing the dignity and freedom of the Burmese people through nonviolence.” While she is expected to address the black-tie crowd by video, live accolades will come from actress Natalie Portman, Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissman Klein and White House Chief of Staff Jacob J. Lew.

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Lisa Edelstein Gets Naked for PETA

By Renee Ghert-Zand

PETA

Actress Lisa Edelstein bared all — literally — in a campaign for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, known by its acronym PETA. She posed lying nude on what appears to be a bed of super-sized leafy greens for a poster encouraging people to try vegetarianism.

The phrase “Eat Green to Go Green” is superimposed over a shot of the naked Edelstein stretched out seductively on her side. A behind-the-scenes video posted on the PETA website shows celebrity photographer Jack Guy shooting Edelstein and includes an interview with her. The actress, 44, talks about the toxic effects of the meat industry and urges people to try vegetarianism, even if it is only for one day a week. She also mentions that she adopted her dogs from rescue shelters, and that she feels strongly that acquiring a pet this way (instead of buying one from a pet store) is the ethical way to go.

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Curtis Sliwa's Secret Jewish Kids

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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You know Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa’s famous red beret? Might be time for him to trade it in for a yarmulke.

The New York Post broke the news that Sliwa is the biological father of former New York Councilmember Melinda Katz’s two sons, and that the couple is now living together and planning to marry. Until now, the Jewish Katz had not revealed who the father of her children was, and the three-times-divorced Sliwa had kept his relationship with Katz and the boys secret.

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Big Independence Day Bucks for Israeli Pop Stars

By Nathan Jeffay

Wikimedia Commons
Eyal Golan

Israel’s Independence Day, coming up next week, is a great day of rejoicing for Israel’s celebrities.

Why for celebrities, you ask? Are they the biggest Zionists in the country, the most excited that after 2,000 years of yearning, in 1948 the Jewish People attained political independence.? Er… no — they just make the biggest bucks.

Popular crooner Eyal Golan is getting 160,000 shekels from Acre municipality for a 45-minute show at its public celebration (there are about 3.75 shekel to the dollar, so divide by four to get a ballpark dollar figure). He then zooms off to Haifa where he gets another 100,000 shekels for a few songs.

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Jake Gyllenhaal's Random Act of Kindness

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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We enjoyed watching Jake Gyllenhaal look for the missing matzo during Passover last week — and then we learned that he is even more of a mensch than we knew.

The handsome 31-year-old actor has been known to be philanthropic, giving to a variety of causes from the Afghan Relief Organization to Variety to Global Green, but apparently his magnanimity extends even to owners of parked cars. In an act of random kindness, Gyllenhaal recently put money into Beverly Hills shopping district parking meters that were about to expire.

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Eric Cantor Backs Shmuley Boteach’s Campaign

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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It’s always good to have friends in high places… who are willing to open their wallets for you.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has contributed $5,000 to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s congressional campaign.

You will recall that the self-touted “America’s rabbi” and author of “Kosher Sex,” “The Kosher Sutra,” and “Kosher Jesus,” recently tossed his hat in the ring. Rabbi Boteach is also known for releasing “The Michael Jackson Tapes,” on which listeners can hear the rabbi and the late singer discussing the effects of celebrity, as well as for his “Shalom in the Home” show on TLC.

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Rachel Dratch: ‘I’m a Troll’

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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Rachel Dratch just isn’t pretty enough.

That is why, she writes in her new memoir, “Girl Walks Into A Bar,” she hasn’t made it big in films or on television post-SNL.

“I am offered solely the parts that I like to refer to as The Unf-ckables. In reality, if you saw me walking down the street, you wouldn’t point at me and recoil and throw up and hide behind a shrub,” she writes. “But by Hollywood standards, I’m a troll, ogre, woodland creature, or manly lesbian. … Trolls, ogres, and woodland creatures can be done with CGI, so that leaves yours truly to play the bull dykes.”

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Jon Lovitz Gets Tough On Hate Crime

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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We may know Jon Lovitz as a joker, but he was very serious when he tweeted about a recent anti-Semitic act perpetrated against his friend’s teenage daughter by other students from her school. It was reported that Lovitz’s posts about the incident, which took place in Northridge, California on April 3, led to the expulsion of the perpetrators from their middle school.

“Some coward & idiot left this on a friend’s doorstep, yesterday. This is an insult to all of us,” the comedian tweeted along with a photo of the pile of feces and swastikas and the word “Jew” written in maple syrup on the front walk and doorstep of his friend’s home.

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Ahmad Tibi and Michael Oren Duke It Out

By Nathan Jeffay

Ahmad Tibi, one of the liveliest, not to mention most controversial, lawmakers in the Knesset, is squaring up to Israel’s ambassador to the US, Michael Oren.

Oren penned a piece in Foreign Policy praising Israel’s democratic nature, in which he wrote:

Israel has tolerated acts that would be deemed treasonous in virtually any other democracy. Ahmad Tibi, who once advised PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat and recently praised Palestinian “martyrs” — a well-known euphemism for suicide bombers — serves as a member and deputy speaker of the Knesset.

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