The Shmooze

A Chat With the Writers/Directors of 'Gett'

By Masha Leon

I don’t recall ever feeling as angry as I was after seeing “The Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem,” the blistering gut-wrenching must-see film by writer/directors Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz.

Warmly ensconced at The Regency Hotel during one of New York’s recent snow-ins, the Elkabetz siblings alternated in answering my questions about the film’s heroine Viviane’s (Ronit ) attempt to divorce her husband Elisha (Simon Abkarian) following a 20-year untenable and loveless marriage. Not sure who angered me more: the rakhnomes-lacking didactic religious judges in the claustrophobic courtroom or the neighbors and relatives who, in Rashomon style, proffer their spin on the couple’s marriage that should long ago have been aborted.

“There are over 450,000 still open cases in Israel – some wait for twenty years to be adjudicated,” Shlomi told me. “It covers the full spectrum – every woman in Israel, secular or Orthodox, has to go through it if married and registered in Israel… There is a sense of God is punishing mei… Women are treated like property.” Commenting on the image of the Israeli woman as modern, a kibbutznik, soldier, bikini-clad beach lounger? Shlomi said, “When it comes to divorce there seems to be a democratic mantra – a gett is a gett.”

“The idea was mine,” volunteered Ronit. “I wanted to understand, to research…. it disturbed me. We had an idea to follow this woman’s life through different stages between herself and the state (Israel). But the woman’s place in this community is to submit…not show her hair, be modest.” Watching the film’s years-long delay after delay without a verdict, I flashed back to the film “Shawshank Redemption” in which, like Vivian, Morgan Freeman is asked year after year if he has repented yet and, irrespective of his reply, is denied parole.

I asked actor/director/writer Ronit – whom I first met in the delightful Israeli film “The Band Visit” – about her change of wardrobe when toward the film’s end– after years and years of soul numbing denials by rabbi-judges – the black-clad Viviane appears in court sporting a blood red shawl and flaunting her below-waist long loose hair. The film’s stark courtroom, Ronit told me, was actually much nicer than those it was modeled after. “She had no more energy,” said Ronit. “The red clothing revitalized her, woke her up. But she did not know that on that day she would be accused of being unfaithful. Caught between two rabbis she forgets herself…. it was not a provocation! Gett denied!”

“The reactions are different from age to age,” said Shlomi. “For young people it’s an occasion for rethinking about marriage …and a gett…. The Rabbinic court is so strong and political, but,” he told me: “Three hundred rabbis will be watching the film…the first time in Israeli history [they will] discuss the issues. It’s extraordinary.”

A winner of more than seven 2014 film festival awards – and most recently a selection at the New York Jewish Film Festival– “Gett” opens on February 13 at Lincoln Plaza Cinema and other area theatres. Go! Applaud Ronit, tsk, tsk the judges and hiss her husband.

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Sarah Jessica Parker Returns to HBO for 'Divorce'

By Elizabeth Wagmeister

(Reuters) — Sarah Jessica Parker has officially signed onto star in and exec produce HBO’s comedy pilot, “Divorce,” making her return to the net after “Sex And The City.”

HBO has given a formal pilot order to the project, which will also star Thomas Haden Church, Molly Shannon and Talia Balsam, Variety has learned.

The half-hour comedy is described as the story of a very, very drawn-out divorce. The “Sex And The City” star will play one half of the divorced couple, Frances, a woman who suddenly reassesses her life and marriage and realizes that a fresh start is much harder than she thought.

Church will star as Parker’s on-screen husband, Robert who’s caught off guard by his wife’s perspective on their marriage.

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Taye Diggs Opens Up About Idina Menzel Divorce

By Anne Cohen

Taye Diggs has taken ex-wife Idina Menzel’s “Frozen” advice and “Let It Go.” In an interview with Redbook, the Broadway actor opens up about the couple’s decision to divorce back in December.

I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times when I thought, Oh, man, people are going to trip out [if we split]. Maybe they thought it was cute that we met in Rent. There weren’t a lot of couples like us in the theater community—and I know there aren’t a lot of performers as talented as she is… and then you have the whole mixed [race] thing. It was easy for people to root for us. Right now, we’re still trying to figure out a lot of stuff because we’re on different coasts and our son is getting older.

The couple met on the set of “Rent” in 1996, and married in 2003. Their son Walker was born in 2009. Per Redbook:

“Right now, we’re still trying to figure out a lot of stuff because we’re on different coasts and our son is getting older,” Diggs said. “The best is seeing the expression on his face when I pick him up from school. The way he says ‘Daddy,’ is unrivaled by anything.”

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Post-Split Michael Douglas Turns to George Soros

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images
Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas

When your marriage hits splitsville, it’s perfectly understandable to need a friendly shoulder to cry on.

For Michael Douglas, who recently announced his split with actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, that shoulder belongs to 83-year-old billionaire George Soros.

Douglas and Zeta-Jones, together since 1999, announced in August that they were — to quote “Friends” — “on a break.” Since then, no papers have been filed and Jones is reportedly still sporting her wedding ring.

In any case, you gotta love a bromance. But according to the Huffington Post, Soros is getting married soon, so Douglas may have to find a new partner-in-crime to get him through his post-breakup ice cream binge.

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$5M and Bob Dylan's Hair

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images
Bob Dylan

If you’ve ever watched MTV Cribs, you know that all musicians like to show off their odd rock memorabilia — but Black Keys singer Dan Auerbach just parted with what could be the weirdest one yet.

According to court documents obtained by TMZ, Auerbach’s divorce settlement includes giving his ex-wife a cool $5 million — and a lock of Bob Dylan’s hair.

That’s right. After an extremely bitter separation process finalized this week in Tennessee, Stephanie Gonis is the lucky winner of strands of Bob Dylan’s Jew-fro.

How this hair was acquired remains a mystery. Did Auerback pluck it directly from Bob’s head? Gather some follicles from the rim of his boater hat? Does Bob know they have his hair?

According to the terms of the settlement, Gonis also gets the couple’s 2012 Toyota Highlander and one of the family homes.

But really, who cares. She got the hair!

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Josh Brolin and Diane Lane Head to Splitsville

By Reuters

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Josh Brolin

Hollywood couple Diane Lane and Josh Brolin are divorcing after more than eight years, their representatives said on Thursday.

“I can confirm Diane Lane and Josh Brolin have decided to end their marriage,” said Lane’s spokeswoman, Kelly Bush.

A source close to the couple termed the split as “amicable” and said it was a mutual decision.

The divorce will be the second for both Lane and Brolin. They have no children together.

Lane, 48, who was Oscar-nominated for her role in the 2002 film “Unfaithful,” and Brolin, 45, married in August 2004 after being introduced by Barbra Streisand, the actor’s stepmother through her marriage to James Brolin.

Josh Brolin played a lead role in last summer’s sci-fi comedy franchise “Men in Black 3” and his most recent film appearance was the January release “Gangster Squad.”

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Mayim Bialik Plans Divorce

By Forward Staff

getty images

Actress Mayim Bialik and her husband, Michael Stone have announced plans to divorce after nine years of marriage.

The “Big Bang Theory” actress, known for her adherence to so-called “attachment parenting,” blamed the split on “irreconcilable differences.

“After much consideration and soul-searching, Michael and I have arrived at the decision to divorce,” she wrote on her blog at Kveller, a Jewish parenting website.

The couple has two sons, 7-year-old Miles and 4-year-old Frederick.

The former “Blossom” star insisted that her unusual parenting style, which includes sleeping in the same bed with the children, had nothing to do with the couple’s trip to Splitsville.

“The hands-on style of parenting we practice played no role in the changes that led to this decision,” she wrote. “Relationships are complicated no matter what style of parenting you choose.”

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Messy Divorce for Film Exec Bob Weinstein

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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Bob Weinstein

While Harvey Weinstein has had cause to shep nakhes lately, his brother Bob seems to be having nothing but tsoris.

Word hit the press on the first day of Passover that movie producer Bob Weinstein’s wife Anne Clancy Weinstein, a former book editor, has filed for divorce and is seeking an order of protection. She wants the latter because she “fears bodily harm” — presumably at the hands of her husband.

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Getting Divorced All Over Again

By Nathan Jeffay

One of the recurrent themes of my work as the Forward’s Israel correspondent is trying to make sense of Israeli bureaucracy regarding life-cycle events — or, often, to explore the lack of sense that guides the system. I have covered the woman who was regarded Jewish in one city but a Gentile in another, the couples who cannot get married, the people who can’t get buried, and most recently the woman who may force deportation because she took too frum a path when converting to Judaism. But never have I covered a woman who had to divorce the same man twice two weeks apart.

Meir Asoulin and Merav Marili were divorced at the Be’er Sheva Rabbinic Court earlier this month — or so they thought. But they subsequently got a call from the court saying that they needed to do it all over again.

According to the media there was a problem with the signature of one of the witnesses, which is why the court insisted on a re-divorce. Rabbi Yitzhak Dahan, the head of the Be’er Sheva Rabbinic Court, said that it was under pressure — seemingly the reason it missed the problem before the couple and the witnesses leave.

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Did a Jewish Actor Come Between Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony?

By Nathan Burstein

Is a Cuban-Jewish actor responsible for breaking up Jennifer Lopez’s marriage?

That’s just one of the rumors swirling around William Levy, a Cuban-born telenovela star currently making a splash in the U.S. as the featured male beefcake in “I’m Into You,” J.Lo’s latest music video (see below).

Speculation about a marriage-ending affair with J.Lo last week inspired Levy to release a statement denying any romantic connection with the singer/actress/producer/entrepreneur/”American Idol” judge, who earlier this month announced the end of her seven-year marriage to singer Marc Anthony.

“My relationship with Jennifer has been strictly professional,” Levy wrote. “These alleged rumors suggesting something more personal are 100% false and inaccurate. My best wishes go out to their family.”

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Christina Aguilera and Jordan Bratman Split: Who Will Get the Kiddush Cup?

By Dana Shay Ipri

Us Weekly announced today that pop starlet Christina Aguilera and her husband, tribe member Jordan Bratman, have separated after nearly five years of marriage. “They were very much in love. But over the last six months, it became clear they were more like friends than husband and wife,” an unidentified source close to Aguilera told Us Weekly.

Aguilera, 29, and Bratman, 33, have been living apart for months, though they have yet to decide if they’ll move forward with a divorce, The New York Post reports.

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