The Shmooze

Joseph Gordon-Levitt vs. GQ

By Kristi Goldade

Getty Images

Yesterday Joseph Gordon-Levitt — the kid from “Third Rock from the Sun” who has matured into adult stardom with films like “Inception“and his own open source production company — wrote a rebuttal to a recent GQ profile of him. “I’m writing this because I have a problem with what their article says about my brother,” he said on his Tumblr site. “I’ll be honest, it really made me feel terrible.”

He went on to explain his displeasure: “The ‘allegations’ to which she must be referring were made by a handful of gossip websites. They are factually incorrect according to the coroner’s office and the police department. I don’t like publicly speaking about my brother’s death, but I’m making an exception to correct this irresponsible claim.”

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Mila Kunis Dishes To James Franco

By Simi Lampert

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Franco and Kunis in April

When Mila Kunis was 12, she auditioned for a part in a movie about a Russian Jew. She didn’t get the part because they didn’t think she looked Russian or Jewish enough. “Mind you, I am both Russian and Jewish,” Kunis points out to James Franco in a recent interview for Interview magazine.

A chat between Jewish heartthrob James Franco and exotic beauty Mila Kunis: What could be more appealing? If a rabbi had been in that room, he probably would have married the two on the spot, in the name of Kiddush Hashem.

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Ralph Lauren Speaks on Olympic Controversy

By Blair Thornburgh

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How could all-American designer Ralph Lauren — the one practically synonymous with polo and preppy pool parties — be anything but a dyed-in-the-wool patriot? The iconic design house and its founder (born Ralph Lipschitz) had barely stitched up the blazer-and-slacks uniforms for the US Olympic team to wear to the games’ opening ceremonies before country-loving critics began to pick them apart.

Fox and Friends, perhaps predictably, found the outfit’s kicky berets (I’m sorry–freedom hats) insufficiently American, while the NY Post chided the “chichi” togs for being better suited to a “Hamptons lawn party” than an international competition.

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Blonde British Pop Star's Got (Jewish) Soul

By Simi Lampert

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When Prince William got married last year, the dependable yente mill immediately broke into action, trying to find out whether the woman under the altar was a member of the Tribe. Well, it turns out she isn’t (as confirmed by JeworNotJew.com), but the woman who sang at the wedding is. Ellie Goulding, British singer and song-writer, is, in fact, a Jew (put that in your song, Adam Sandler).

Goulding sang her moving cover of Elton John’s “Your Song” at the royal wedding for the first dance (with Mr. John in attendance — quite a bold move on this young blonde’s part), but this is in no way her only claim to fame. Her cover of that song, which she also performed at the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Concert, had previously reached Number 2 on the U.K. Singles chart, and her album “Lights” reached Number 1 on the U.K. Album chart; that album’s title song reached Number 5 on the Billboard 100 in the U.S. this past week.

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Israeli Lawmaker Destroys New Testament

By Nathan Jeffay

Wikimedia Commons
Michael Ben-Ari

He’s not exactly known for his sensitivity, but Israeli lawmaker Michael Ben-Ari has rarely made a statement that has the potential to offend quite so many people.

Many lawmakers were peeved to receive a complimentary New Testament in their Knesset mailbox, courtesy of a Christian publisher. Anything perceived as missionary activity touches a very raw nerve in the Jewish state. But while most lawmakers quietly decided what to do with the book, Ben-Ari decided to tear it in to pieces with his parliamentary aide photographing him, and then release a picture to Ma’ariv’s news site.

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Conflict Condoms Turn Up the Heat

By Hannah Rubin

Buzzfeed.com

Israel advocates don’t just want you to visit. They want you to come.

Over the past decade, pro-Israel campaigns have internationally turned up the heat, by printing pro-Israel messages on widely distributed…condoms.

The unambiguous mix of sex and sightseeing first began in 2003, at the behest of the University of California — San Diego’s Inside Israel Initiative. The campaign, funded by the campus Hillel, aimed to promote Israel’s unique gender equality record through the dissemination of condoms branded with the slogan “Israel: its still safe to come.” T-shirts with condoms waving Israeli flags were featured as well.

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Madonna Sued for Le Pen Swastika

By Michael Kaminer

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Did Madonna “express herself” too much?

The BBC reports that France’s right-wing National Front party is suing the superstar “after an image at the US singer’s Paris concert showed party leader Marine Le Pen with a swastika imposed on her face.”

The image, in a video accompanying the song Nobody Knows Me, was followed by another resembling Adolf Hitler as Madonna was performing at the Stade de France in a Paris suburb on Saturday. National Front vice-president Florian Philippot told the BBC the party could not accept “such an odious comparison… This is just another provocation in Madonna’s world tour so that people will talk about her. Marine Le Pen will defend not only her own honor but her supporters’ and the millions of National Front voters.” Philippot said a lawsuit would be filed this week.

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Charlie Kaufman Turns To Kickstarter

By Kristi Goldade

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This week the Shmooze brings you yet another story about a filmmaker striking out on his own to finance a project.

But this time our enterprising artist isn’t a struggling young film student. It’s a pair of well-established Hollywood successfuls, Charlie Kaufman and Dan Harmon. They have turned to Kickstarter to fund a stop-action movie called “Anomalisa,” about “a man crippled by the mundanity of his life.”

In the promotional video on their Kickstarter page, a bearded old claymation fellow asks, “Can you imagine the unique world of Charlie Kaufman, realized in stop-motion, without the influence of the Hollywood studio system?”

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Bieber Cover: 'Rebbe, Rebbe, Rebbe, Oh!'

By Kristi Goldade

YouTube

Among the 34,000 YouTube covers of Justin Bieber’s hit single “Baby” — including one by the original crooner himself, “Baby, baby, Haiti”, to show support for the Help Haiti Telethon — is a ridiculously adorable (and adorably ridiculous) cover called “Rabbi.” by a group called Shepsalach.

Shepsalach, which means sheep in Yiddish, is a baby-faced trio armed with only the requisite shaggy haircut, a candle adorned keyboard and a shofar. The group was put together by Yuval Nobelman, a film student and television writer shooting a comedy about a Jewish Orthodox boy band.

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Anthony Hopkins To Play Methuselah in Noah Epic

By Michael Kaminer

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Yes, but will he eat the animals?

Actor Anthony Hopkins, whose signature roles include the face-chewing “Silence of the Lambs” cannibal Hannibal Lecter, has signed on to play Methuselah in “Noah,” an upcoming big-budget bible epic from brainy Jewish director Darren Aronofsky.

As the Times of Israel noted this week, “Hopkins, 74, is 895 years younger than the character he’ll play.” Hopkins hasn’t commented, but Aronofsky waxed rhapsodic on Twitter. “i’m honored to be working with the great sir anthony hopkins. we just added him to the stellar cast of #Noah.” Aronofsky wasn’t awed enough to honor Sir Anthony with capital letters, however.

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Orthodox Pop Star Giggles About the Internet

By Nathan Jeffay

youtube
Alex Clare

He may have got the world hooked on the latest web browser, but don’t go to Alex Clare for website recommendations.

The hit British-Jewish recording artist and one-time boyfriend of Amy Winehouse provided the music for commercials for the latest Internet Explorer with his song Too Close. But asked about his taste in websites by the British television show Freshly Squeezed all he really managed to come up with us Sporting Fish. “There’s a diary of angler on there which is fascinating, it’s very good… he takes photos of the fish he caught,” Clare enthuses.

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Neo-Nazi Murderer Gets Reality Show

By Kristi Goldade

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According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, at the end of 2010, about 7.1 million people, or 1 in 33 adults, were under the supervision of U.S. adult correctional authorities. That’s a whole lot of institutionalized Americans.

So it’s no surprise that a show like the Discovery Channel’s “I (Almost) Got Away With It,” a program about people that commit crimes and eventually get caught, is such a hit. We’re curious about their unfortunate lives.

What’s not as understandable, however, is who gets the attention — not some wayward shoplifting teen, but a dishonest neo-Nazi felon. In a recent episode of “I (Almost) Got Away With It,” neo-Nazi John Ditullio told producers that he murdered a homeless man simply because the man asked for a drink, and cut off another man’s pinky when he disrespected the American Nazi Party.

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Anna Wintour In Cahoots With John Galliano?

By Michael Kaminer

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Anna Wintour

All eyes were on Raf Simons last week as the successor to disgraced designer John Galliano sent his debut collection for Dior down the runway for Paris’ fashion week.

So maybe Vogue editrix Anna Wintour thought nobody would notice when she hunkered down for lunch with Galliano at L’Espadon, the restaurant at Paris’ Ritz hotel last week.

As the Forward has reported, Galliano was found guilty by a French court last fall of “insult on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion” after a now-famous anti-Semitic outburst at a Paris bar. He has made few public appearances since the verdict.

“Galliano’s” identity has not been confirmed by either party. But an Instagram user named albergkcpang, who posted pics of the dining duo, told New York magazine’s The Cut blog he was “100% positive” the guy was, in fact, the discharged Dior designer, and media worldwide have picked up on the story.

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Praying to Keep Haredim Out of the IDF

By Nathan Jeffay

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Ovadia Yosef

Two weeks ago the Shmooze was a bit bamboozled by the complete loss of any sense of proportion by Israel’s Sephardi Chief Rabbi. Now, rabbinic melodrama seems to be spreading.

Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar claimed that people should pray against plans to give state salaries to Reform rabbis just like they pray when “rockets are fired at Israel,” and on Saturday one of his predecessors Ovadia Yosef, spiritual leader of the Shas political party, called for synagogues everywhere to ask God during prayers to derail plans to draft Haredim to the army in Israel. In fulfillment of a Supreme Court decision the government plans to end the military exemption for Haredim.

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Natalie Portman Goes ‘Black Swan’ for Dior

By Margaret Eby

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All that grueling ballet training has served Natalie Portman well. Not only did she get an Oscar for her performance in “Black Swan,” a role that required her to train as a ballerina for eight hours a day, but now she’s landed a Christian Dior campaign that pays homage to her turn as a haunted diva.

The advertisement, which pictures Portman in a strapless black tulle gown, echoes the final scenes of “Black Swan” when Portman’s evil alter ego takes hold. The ad is also a tribute to “La Dolce Vita,” the revered Fellinin film in which actress Anita Ekberg, wearing a similar stress, wades into the Trevi fountain in Rome.

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Bloomberg's Puntastic Hot Dog Speech

By Kristi Goldade

Getty Images

Hizzoner had his audience groaning yet again, and it wasn’t because he banned their Big Gulps. This Wednesday, Mayor Bloomberg presided over the opening weigh-in at Nathan’s Famous July 4 International Hot Dog-Eating Contest. The Mayor read a speech that, according to reports, had even “the stuffed hot dog character face-palming.”

“Dogged pursuers will finally ketchup, cut the mustard and be pronounced wiener,” he said, shaking his head and asking who wrote his punny speech to laughs from the crowd.

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Video: Guns N’ Roses Rock 'Hatikvah'

By Margaret Eby

getty images
Axl Rose

Axl Rose and his newest iteration of Guns n’ Roses brought down the house in Tel Aviv when lead guitarist Ronald Jay Blumenthal, better known by his alias Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, did an abbreviated solo version of “Hatikvah.”

Blumenthal, who adapted his stage title from a colorfully named bacterial infection, had performed the national Israeli anthem before in 2011 alongside Salem, a pioneering Israeli Death Metal band.

A Jewish American, he has roots in Lithuania and Poland.

Perhaps, as the Forward has previously suggested, “Hatikvah” could be on its way to becoming a more inclusive national anthem — one that includes everyone. Even metalheads.

Watch Blumenthal’s Version of the Anthem:


Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘Perfect’ $90 T-Shirt

By Kristi Goldade

Getty Images

The Shmooze knows how tough it can be to find a decent white tee—but luckily we’ve got Gwyneth Paltrow and her fashion team at GOOP to help. For $90 you can buy “the perfect t-shirt,” which, in the GOOPy language of Paltrow’s “lifestyle community” website, is “inspired by tuxedo tailoring,” with “grosgrain piping” added, “modernizing this essential wardrobe staple.”

New York Daily News reports that the Goop Tee is one of the first of many items that will bear the GOOP brand, a platform Paltrow created to share “really useful information” and advice she learned over the years of her “amazing, super, fortunate life.”

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Jury's Out on Adam Levine's Mustache

By Blair Thornburgh

Getty Images
Was he better clean shaven?

Move over, Freddy Mercury: there’s a new mustachioed frontman in town.

Adam Levine, Maroon 5’s bringer of Jagger-like moves and one of the musical masterminds judging “The Voice,” was spotted looking handsomely hirsute in New York this Sunday, where he was filming his first flick, “Can A Song Save Your Life?” Having sprouted a ’stache for his role in the drama, the tattooed TV star and tenor is now a verifiable triple threat: singer, reality show judge, and mustache-method actor. Though he was previously known to favor the two-day-scruff look popular with hipsters and hobos alike, this mustache marks the modern-day Renaissance man’s debut into the world of full-blown facial hair.

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Chris Brown Disses Drake’s Eyebrows

By Margaret Eby

Getty Images

Usually it’s the other way around: First rap artists hurl insults at their opponents, and then they throw punches. But after the fracas at a SoHo club in early June and the subsequent police investigation, rumor mill churning, and various attempts to capitalize on the biggest Billboard star fist fight of the summer, Chris Brown is hitting back, at least lyrically. Brown jumps in for a verse on a remix of Chief Keef’s “I Don’t Like” to list all of his least favorite things about Drake. Specifically, his generous brow: “Them eyebrows?/Man that sh-t’s yikes.”

Brown’s dis includes a direct reference to the club fight, though not one that seems particularly accurate: “They throwin’ bottles/I’m throwin’ models.” Whatever the case, the rap community is waiting with bated breath for Drake’s next move. But some, like Tyga, a rapper on Lil Wayne’s Young Money label, viewed the whole thing as childish. He offered some advice to Drake and Brown at the carpet of the 2012 BET awards: “At the end of the day, they got to handle that like men.”


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