The Shmooze

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

Getty Images

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

getty images

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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Egypt Reality TV Prank Goes Very Bad

By JTA

courtesy of memri

Egyptian actors on a hidden camera television show reacted violently upon being told they were being aired on an Israeli TV channel.

Excerpts from the show, part of satellite TV channel Al-Nahar’s special Ramadan programming, were translated and distributed this week by MEMRI-the Middle East Media Research Institute.

In one show, Egyptian artist Ayman Kandeel attacks the producer, who had identified himself as Israeli, and slaps the host, causing her to fall to the floor.

Realizing he has been pranked, Kandeel tells the host that she brought it on herself and offers to rub lotion on her back where she has been hurt.

Actor Mahmoud Abd Al-Ghaffar also reacts violently, pulling a producer by his hair and fighting with other staff members.

“If you weren’t a girl, the moment you told me you were Jewish … I hate the Jews to death,” he said.

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IDF Bikini Babe Goes Viral

By Simi Lampert

Imgur

It’s not the first time a female Israeli soldier has been photographed in a bikini, but it might be the first time that soldier had a gun strapped to her back. And for some reason, that weapon makes all the difference. Maxim’s spread of bikini-clad IDF soldiers got 69 Facebook likes in the five years since it’s been up; a grainy, faceless picture of a non-posed woman on a beach in Israel has gotten more than 3,000 likes from viewers on a variety of different sites.

“Nothing more sexy than a half-naked woman with a machine gun,” commented one viewer of the picture on imgur. (He promptly received several replies from viewers who could, in fact, think of a number of sexier options, mostly involving the woman removing said bikini.) “Ugh, M4 always give the strangest tan lines,” quipped another.

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Behind the Scenes With James Deen

By Michael Kaminer

Getty Images

“Doc Johnson” doesn’t sound Jewish. But the nation’s biggest manufacturer of sex toys is owned and run by the father-and-son team of Ron and Chad Braverman, and July’s Los Angeles magazine delivers a behind-the-scenes look at their “empire of rubber” — and the Jewish porn star they’ve enlisted to make it even bigger.

Fly-on-the-wall style, the story records the action as adult-film actor James Deen — who famously told Haaretz last year that he “still has money invested from his bar-mitzvah” — inks a deal with the Bravermans to replicate a certain part of his anatomy for an estimated $20,000 fee. Deen is the closest thing to a male superstar in adult films; in a Nightline segment last October, the 26-year-old actor, who is said to have appeared in some 4,000 X-rated films, was described as enjoying a “disturbing” popularity among teenage girls,” Los Angeles reports.

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Should Israelis Cancel Trips to Bulgaria?

By Nathan Jeffay

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A member of the Israeli rescue and recovery squad collects evidence during investigations at the Airport in Burgas where a suicide blast targeting Israelis took place.

The tragic attack in Bulgaria has united Israelis in shock and mourning. But some are also left asking a rather mundane question — who pays for the knock-on effects?

The Hebrew media reports that in the main Israelis with travel plans for Bulgaria are continuing to travel. But inevitably, some want to cancel.

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I'm No Terrorist

By Haaretz

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Ayman Abu Aita

A Palestinian grocer portrayed as a terrorist in the comedy “Bruno” has settled his slander suit against Jewish actor Sacha Baron Cohen and talk show host David Letterman, according to a report by the British Daily Mail.

In an article published Friday, the Daily Mail said that Ayman Abu Aita was interviewed in the 2009 comedy, where he was labeled in a caption as a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a violent offshoot of the Palestinian Fatah movement, and that Baron Cohen later discussed his encounter with a “terrorist” on Letterman’s CBS show.

Abu Aita’s court papers described him as a Christian and “a peace-loving person” who was living in the West Bank, adding that he “has never associated with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade or any terrorist activity,” said the Daily Mail.

“He went to the interview that appeared in ‘Bruno’ thinking he was talking to a journalist about peace activism, his court complaint said. Instead, the movie spurred death threats against him, damaged his business and made him fear for his family’s safety,” the Daily Mail report said.

For more, go to Haaretz.com


Matisyahu ‘Loosens the Knots’ of Judaism

By Michael Kaminer

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Matisyahu throws out the first pitch before game between the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 15

The clean-shaven singer in a loose white t-shirt barely resembles a 2006 snapshot of a bearded Hasid dancing merrily in a suit and shtramel. And indeed, Matisyahu today bears little likeness to his longtime “Chassidic reggae superstar” persona. While his transformation sparked much speculation in the blogosphere — Matisyahu dropped the bomb by posting a beardless photo of himself on Twitter last December — the choice was carefully conceived, as the performer tells the Times of Israel this week.

“There are so many rules in Judaism, and if you get into them and you get obsessed and you have the kind of life that I have, it can make you a very unhappy person,” Matisyahu told the Times in a backstage interview before a Stamford, Conn., concert last week. “It can make everything complicated and more stressful than it needs to be, so I kind of loosened the knots a little bit.”

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Lena, Larry and Mayim Scoop Emmy Nods

By JTA

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Lena Dunham

Mayim Bialik, Larry David and Lena Dunham are among the Jewish performers nominated for the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards.

Jewish filmmaker and actress Lena Dunham was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Hannah Horvath on the HBO series “Girls.” The show has also been nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series and was inspired by Dunham’s experiences as a Jewish girl living in New York City.

Larry David, who is best known as one of the creators of the TV show “Seinfeld” was nominated as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his role in the HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” The show also was nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series.

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Video: Photo Shredding on the Knesset Floor

By Nathan Jeffay

Wikimedia Commons
Ahmad Tibi

In 1988, Israel’s Central Election Commission banned the extremist lawmaker Rabbi Meir Kahane from running again for Knesset, on the grounds that his party was racist and undemocratic. Since then, he’s never been seen at the Knesset podium… apart from yesterday.

An Arab lawmaker, Ahmad Tibi, held up a photograph of Kahane at the podium, and ripped it in to pieces. It was a response to the decision of Michael Ben-Ari, the sole self-declared follower of Kahane who serves in the Knesset, to tear up a New Testament and release a photograph of himself doing so.

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Daniel Radcliffe Gets His Own Rom-Com

By Hannah Rubin

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He knows how to succeed in business without really trying — but what about a platonic relationship?

Daniel Radcliffe, melter of muggle hearts worldwide, has just been cast as the lead, along side co-star Zoe Kazan (jury’s still out on her tribal status), in “The F Word,” an indie romantic comedy about two 20-somethings trying to keep it in friend zone. (Yes, that is F for F-r-i-e-n-d-s-h-i-p.)

The film brings together a whole cast of (Jew-ish) characters, with a script written by Elan Mastai, production by David Gross and direction from Michael Dowse, of “Goon” fame.

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt vs. GQ

By Kristi Goldade

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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

Getty Images

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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