The Shmooze

Jewish Harry Potter Raises Galleons For Gaza War

By Hody Nemes

Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?

Jewish Israelis have claimed the wizard wonder boy and his legacy on the “Jewish Harry Potter” Facebook page, which has over 10,000 likes. Beneath a profile picture of a yarmulke-clad Harry, users crack jokes about Israeli politics and Jewish religious life through the lens of the Potter series.

Lately, the site’s creators have used the Hershel — I mean Harry — books to process and satirize the war going on around them. Here are their most memorable Jewish Harry Potter memes, ones really worth storing in your pensieve:

1) Chambers of Secrets

Under the heading “A blow to the Death Eaters,” Snape informs Voldemort of an operational setback in their war with the wizarding establishment.

Snape: “Bad news, my lord: the I.D.F. has discovered the tunnel between Borgin & Burkes and Hogwarts.”


2) Hamas’ Peculiar Demands

One user made a list of ceasefire demands promulgated by a little known terrorist group, the Al-Qessem Brigades (punning on the hebrew words for “Kassam rocket” and “magic”).

“We will accept a ceasefire on the following conditions:
A) All our prisoners in Azakaban will be released.
B) Slytherin, under the leadership of Severus Snape, will henceforth run Hogwarts.
C) Voldemort will be appointed Minister of Magic.”


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Joan Rivers Has Advice for Israel: Nose Jobs

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Joan Rivers is trading in her “Fashion Police” badge for some international relations credentials.

The comedian, who just last week was seen passionately defending Israel to a TMZ reporter, is at it again. In an interview with Israel’s Channel 10 on Wednesday, Rivers had some words of advice for Israel’s PR team.

“We are doing something very wrong in Israel and we are not doing public relations work,” Rivers told Channel 10’s U.S. correspondent Gil Tamari. “Hamas is so smart, they are using old pictures of dead children every time we hit a spot that happens to be – yes, a school, but underneath it there are weapons and they say ‘school!’ and it’s killing me because the wrong people, the dumb people are buying into it.”

Asked for advice on how deal with celebrities like Selena Gomez and Rihanna, Rivers said: “I think Israel should start showing dead puppies. And you’ll see these girls turn right around and go, ‘aww, boo hoo.’”

Lovely, Joan. Just lovely.

But wait, there’s more.

The segment ended with Tamari asking Rivers to play “Got To Have It or Make It Stop,” a game made popular on “Fashion Police.”

This particular gem came out of round 1:

“Well I think we should make it stop and I think I know how to make it stop. I think every Palestinian should get a nose job,” she said. “Because once somebody has had a nose job they won’t fight ‘cause they’re scared their new nose would get broken. I think we should send over every great Jewish plastic surgeon doctor, fix their noses, and there will be peace in the Middle East.”

Ladies and gentlemen, Joan Rivers.

Watch the whole segment below (if you dare).

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Andi Dorfman Is Really Over 'Bachelorette' Runner-Up

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Unless you’ve been offline all day, or, you know, have a life beyond the dramatic ups and down of reality television, you may have heard that Andi Dorfman, a.k.a. the Jewish Bachelorette, has made her decision.

The lucky man comes in the form of Josh Murray, a failed baseball player from Atlanta. So basically, Dorfman could have avoided all this hearttache by just trolling her hometown’s sports bars.

But as in every fairy tale ending, there’s a big loser sitting at home crying. And in Andi’s case, that person is Nick Viall, who, as Jezebel pointed out, was less than gracious about not being the chosen one.

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Jon Stewart Calls U.S. 'Oprah of Middle East'

By Anne Cohen

Youtube

Everyone wants peace in the Middle East. That’s the easy part — saying it. But then, how to achieve it?

Jon Stewart may have the answer.

On Tuesday night’s “Daily Show,” Stewart opened a segment on the conflict between Israel and Hamas by showing clips of American leaders who “all want to see peace in this region.”

“It’s what we do,” Stewart quipped. He then pointed out that the U.S. is sending arms to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Israel.

“We’re like the Oprah of Middle East Weapons systems!” Stewart said. “You get some bombs! You get some bombs! Everybody get some bombs!”

You’re welcome.

Stewart, who has been lambasted for his coverage of Israel’s operation in Gaza, once again took the opportunity to strike back at his critics:

“This is a dangerous region,” he said, “even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”

Watch the whole segment below:

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'The Passenger': Holocaust On And Below Deck

By Masha Leon

Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s 1968 opera “The Passenger,” which Lincoln Center Festival premiered at The Park Avenue Armory, offered a soupcon of “Titanic” vibes with its 1960’s Brazil-bound ocean liner’s huge white funnel and its first class carefree passengers — elegant in all-white suits and gowns — waltzing to an orchestra’s calming beat.

Among the dancers, Walter (Joseph Kaiser), a 50-year old German diplomat and his 37-year old wife Liese (Michele Breedt) who suddenly panics when she recognizes one of the passengers –a former inmate of Auschwitz—at a time when she was a 22-year-old SS Overseer.

The below deck set is a can-almost taste, smell, and touch recreation of a concentration camp setting with women’s barracks housing an assemblage of multinational, head-shaved, inmates in striped garb: Polish Marta 34, French Yvette 22, Czech Vlasta 20, Polish Krystina 28, Bronka, 50, 21-year old Russian partisan Katya, 18-year old Jewish Hannah and 25-year old Teadeus, Marta’s fiancée.

Performed in English by members of the Houston Grand Opera, directed by David Pountney with Patrick Summer conducting the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra, the program notes inform that the work was “deemed a perfect masterpiece by Weinberg’s mentor Dmitri Shostakovich”. In the realm of Holocaust re-creation, the presentation of the wretched women with their heads shaved and loose striped dresses ”The Passenger” stands alongside the visceral cinematic “Shoah” masterpiece “The Last Stop” “(Ostatni Etap”) by Wanda Jakubowska which she shot in 1948 at Auschwitz (using some of the camp’s survivors) and the only Holocaust film directed by a woman.

Polish-Jewish Weinberg — who escaped from Warsaw and ended up in the Soviet Union during WWII — never lived to see the opera performed. In the program notes Pountney notes “the Soviets didn’t want anything to do with pity for the Jews’ anything that did no actively further the Communist agenda was officially condemned as ‘Abstract Humanism’” a phrase Pountney noted “used by the Nazis vis a vis Red Cross inspections of the camps.’” Admitting that “The Passenger” is not a modern opera but a “time capsule,” he mounted its first full production in 2010 at the Bregenz Festival in Austria.”

Liese’s brutality to the woman as an SS Overseer is staggering. There is a love sub-plot, but mainly the opera is a musical j’accuse plea. As each woman prisoner sings her lament—the Russian (Kelly Kaduce) opts for a lullaby —the depth of each woman’s despair and hope is spelled out in a plea “Do not forget!” and to the fellow women prisoners, the promised: “I swear I will never forget you!

Most likely the nearly 1000-strong audience sitting on the floor-to-Armory ceiling highly raked tiered seats will not forget “The Passenger” operatic voyage.

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Javier Bardem Anti-Israel Letter Backed by Celebs

By JTA

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A letter accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza was endorsed by 100 Spanish celebrities including Academy Award winners Penelope Cruz and Pedro Almodovar.

On Monday the renowned actors, writers and directors endorsed a letter that Spanish actor Javier Bardem published last week in the Barcelona-based El Periodico de Catalunya, the daily reported.

“This is a war of occupation and extermination against a whole people without means, confined to a miniscule territory without water and where hospitals, ambulances, and children are targeted and presumed to be terrorists,” Bardem, himself an Academy Award-winning actor, wrote.

European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor told JTA that the “assertion that Israel is perpetrating genocide is not only patently false and detached from reality, but also inflammatory and outrageous at a time when demonization against Israel is fueling unprecedented levels of anti-Semitic violence in Europe.”

Kantor added: “I would be interested in reading the opinion of the same Spanish celebrities after 2,500 rockets explode on Madrid or Barcelona.”

In his letter titled “Genocide,” Bardem also wrote: “Being Jewish is not synonymous with supporting this massacre, just as being a Hebrew is not the same as being a Zionist and being Palestinian does not mean being a terrorist from Hamas. That is as absurd as saying that being German means espousing Nazism.”

Bardem also wrote: “My son was born in a Jewish hospital because I have Jewish people who are very near and dear to me.”

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First Look at Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

By Anne Cohen

Wonder Woman. Has. A. Sword.

“Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” director Zack Snyder tweeted out a photo during Comic Con this weekend, showing what the glorious combination that is Israel model/actress Gal Gadot and badass superchick Wonder Woman will look like. This isn’t your good ol’ red, blue and gold getup. Gadot seems to be taking her cues from Xena, Warrior Princess’ with that metal armor bodice. No spandex or tights in sight.

At this point, it’s worth repeating: Wonder Woman. Has. A. Sword.

What do you think of the costume?

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Bel Kaufman, Author and Tango Dancer, In Her Own Words

By Masha Leon

Bel Kaufman, who died on July 25 at 103, gave the impression she might live forever. During lunch on August 31, 2012 at her favorite eatery Demarchelier, she told me: “I have just stepped into the future.”

Her two novels, “Up the Down Staircase” (which was made into an award-winning film) and “Love, Etc.” were being digitized and sold as e-books. Seeing my reaction as she dug into a humongous omelet, she said, “I eat an awful lot…I warn people that I eat everything. I have all my teeth — only fillings…. When I was 100 everyone said, ‘God bless you! How wonderful!’ When I tell them I an now 101, they simply say, ‘Oh, really.” What about outliving your friends? I asked. “You just make new ones,” she replied.

Masha Leon and Bel Kaufman // Photo by Karen Leon

Between bites, Kaufman — whom I had known for over three decades and once kissed me on the head when I told her I had read her grandfather Sholem Aleichem’s works in Yiddish and did a dissertation on his “Eizenbahn Geshikhtes” (train chronicles) — confided “I was the first woman to get a by-line in Esquire magazine. It was the 1940’s and my agent told me that they don’t buy anything by a woman. So I changed my name from Belle to Bel.”

Addressing the Warburg Society Tea at The Jewish Museum, Kaufman told the guests: “Because I am 94, I am too busy to grow old.” Once asked if she was still dancing,” the avid sometimes 3-times-a-week on stiletto heels tango aficionada snapped back: “Are you still breathing?” She once confessed to an audience that at home Sholem Aleichem spoke only Russian. “ I had to attend a Sholem Aleichem school to learn Yiddish.”

Karen Leon
Bel Kaufman

In May 2010 she managed to speak extemporaneously at three consecutive [May 11-12-13] nights of celebration on the occasion of her 100th birthday—a Yiddish Theatre-Folksbiene bash, a May 12 National Arts Club reception and a May 13 Hunter College ”Party of the Century” held at Roosevelt House at which she was lauded by Hunter College president Jennifer Raab as “a 1934 Magna Cum Laude alumna.” She ended her address with “Now that I am one hundred I feel liberated — “My time is precious, I no longer have to do what I must do.”

Kaufman’s last public appearance was at the December 2, 2013 Hanukkah Gala at Symphony Space at which Theodore Bikel was honored. Presenting the award to 90-year young Bikel, Kaufman stated: “I am truly happy to be standing here!”

During my delightful March 13, 2009 taped hour-long interview with Kaufman at the Jewish Braille Institute, she recalled walking with her grandfather as 3-year old holding hands. “’The harder you press my hand, the better I write,’ he told me…. I held on very tightly, so if you enjoy his writing — the credit goes to me… A year before he died in Odessa, he wrote ‘Dear Belushka, I am writing for you to hurry up so you can learn to write me letters. So it is necessary for you to drink milk, eat vegetables and fewer candies. Regards to your dolls. Your Papa, Sholem Aleichem.’ He told me you gotta stay alive even if it kills you.

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Chelsea Clinton Holds Gluten-Free Baby Shower

By Rachel X. Landes

Chelsea Clinton and mom Hillary hosted a baby shower up at Cabtree’s Kittle House Inn, in Chappaqua, New York, near the senior Clintons’ estate.

Chelsea first announced her pregnancy with Jewish hubby, Marc Mezvinsky, back in April when she tweeted: “Marc and I are so thrilled to be expecting our first child in the fall! Thank you for all of the kind words!”

Bill Clinton, with Mezvinsky in tow, even stopped by towards the end of the festivities and schmoozed with guests. According to the New York Daily News, the family are regulars, and the former POTUS can often be found chatting up patrons at the bar.

Due to Chelsea Clinton’s wheat intolerance, the food was mostly gluten free, and present openings were saved until after the party ended.

The Clintons didn’t leave until 10 PM, two hours later than their reservation dictated.

Who knows if Bill Clinton’s grandkid will be raised Jewish, but we still wish the happy couple the best!

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Robert Downey Jr. Tops Forbes List of Highest Paid Actors

By Rachel X. Landes

For the second year running, Robert Downey Jr. tops Forbes’ list of highest paid actors in Hollywood. Since June of last year, Iron Man has made $75 million — impressive even by Tony Stark standards.

The tribe has done slightly better on Forbes list of highest paid actresses, with two fabulous Jewish ladies making the list.

Natalie Portman comes in 8th, having made $14 million last year from another movie from the Avengers franchise, “Thor: The Dark World.”

Mila Kunis made $11 million, due to the Wizard of Oz remake, “Oz the Great and Powerful.” She ranked 9th on the list.

Sandra Bullock deserves an honorable mention (Does anyone remember that time she had a bris for her adopted son?). She made $14 million as well for being suspended in front of a green screen for “Gravity”.

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Jill Abramson Champions Freedom of The Press

By Masha Leon

“She was reading the New York Times before she could transfer to a bottle,”Gail Sheehy said of Jill Abramson, at the July 15 reception she hosted at her Manhattan duplex for the former executive editor of The New York Times.

Author of 16 books — including megahit “Passages,” Sheehy touted Abramson as “among the first to invade the all-male testosterone preserve at Harvard…and because of her, the New York Times has an equal number of men and women on [its] masthead.”

Sponsored by The Common Good as part of its Leadership Series, the more than 50 guests included former, still active and young wannabe journalists. Standing on a white plastic stool — so she could be seen — barefoot in-a-chic-black and white pattern sleeveless dress, Abramson declared: ”The First Amendment is first for a reason… Jefferson famously said if you had to choose between having a country with a government and no newspapers — or the opposite — he would say that having newspapers is more important than the government. The founders of this country were desperately afraid of highly centralized power and believed that a free press was necessary to hold the government accountable to the people” and that “stories from [accused] whistle-blowers — if they are indeed the sources — were very much in the spirit Jefferson envisioned.”

Karen Leon
Jill Abramson

Abramson stated: “When Obama came into the White House, he pledged to have the most transparent administration ever… and in certain ways the Obama administration had been good — declassified millions of documents. But in terms of these leaks… they have been unusually tough, aggressive and I see that as a really disturbing trend.”

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Is Amar'e Stoudemire Looking For a Hebrew Tutor?

By Anne Cohen

He has part ownership of an Israeli basketball team, sports a yarmulke before games and thinks Shabbat is “awesome.” Now, it seems Amar’e Stoudemire is ready for the next step: learning Hebrew.

According to an email making the rounds, the basketball star is looking for a tutor:

Please let me know if you have any connections to a Hebrew tutor who could work with a professional athlete that is looking to improve their conversational Hebrew. The tutor would need to spend most of the next 6 weeks living in Florida with the athlete and then continue to work with the athlete back in NY after the summer. Obviously all expenses and a generous salary would be included.

A few lingering questions: If the email does in fact refer to Amar’e Stoudemire, does this mean his Israeli citizenship is coming through? Could he be planning a move to the Holy Land?

Of course, Knicks fans might prefer Stoudemire spend his summer working on his defensive skills, but that’s another story.

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'Louie' Renewed For a Fifth Season

By Anne Cohen

Fans of ‘Louie,’ rejoice!

Not for you the long, almost-unbearable two-year gap between seasons three and four. FX just announced that “Louie” has been renewed for a fifth season, with seven episodes set to run in spring 2015.

“Louie’s fourth season was once again groundbreaking,” FX Networks and FX Productions CEO John Landgraf said in a statement. “Sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking – always thought-provoking. The show went to narrative and cinematic places no comedy has gone before, and we look forward to seeing what Louis comes up with next.”

Now, we know what’s on your mind: Why is the Forward covering this? Well friends, here it is: Louis C.K. is Jewish. Kind of.

C.K.’s paternal grandfather, Dr. Geza Székely Schweiger, was a Hungarian Jew whose family emigrated to Mexico. In an interview with NPR, C.K. said that his grandfather agreed that his children be raised Catholic, while remaining “quietly Jewish.” When C.K.’s father remarried a Jewish woman, he converted to Judaism and is now an Orthodox Jew.

So there you have it. You can look forward to a lot more “Louie” coverage on this blog.

The hit dark, and sometimes surreal, comedy just earned five Emmy nominations — including outstanding comedy series, lead actor, writing, directing and casting. We can’t wait for the next round.

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The Middle East Crisis, According to Woody Allen

By Rachel X. Landes

The situation in Gaza is “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself,” Woody Allen declared in an interview about his new movie, Magic in the Moonlight.

Asked about the Israel-Palestine conflict, Allen explained, “I feel that the Arabs were not very nice in the beginning… The Jews had just come out of a terrible war where they were exterminated by millions and persecuted all over Europe, and they were given this tiny, tiny piece of land in the desert.

“If the Arabs had just said, ‘Look, we know what you guys have been through, take this little piece of land and we’ll all be friends and help you,’ and the Jews came in peace, but they didn’t. They were not nice about it.”

Allen concluded that “there’ve been public relations mistakes, actual mistakes, and it’s been a terrible, terrible cycle of mismanagement and bad faith.”

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Adam Levine Gets Hitched, Jewish Girls Mourn

By Rachel X. Landes

Women around the world are weeping as Adam Levine, Maroon 5 front man and coach on “The Voice,” officially took himself off the market and exchanged vows with Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo.

Levine and Prinsloo began dating two years ago, after Levine’s split from model, Anne Vyalitsyna. As you can see, he has a type. They got engaged nearly a year ago, but only after asking Prinsloo’s father for permission.

The couple tied the knot in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico on Saturday night. Approximately 275 guests attended the wedding, which was officiated by comedian Jonah Hill. Stevie Nicks preformed.

Levine accepted no gifts for the wedding. Instead, he and his wife asked for all guests to donate to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. What a mensch.

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When Elaine Stritch Dated Marlon Brando

By Masha Leon

Elaine Stritch, who died on July 17 at 89, was as feisty off-stage as on— whether belting out the the ode to imbibing: “The Ladies Who Lunch” or the survival anthem “I’m Still Here!.”

A presence at many a New York City bash, she was a participant in the November 17, 2003 “Stella By Starlight” Gala at the Rainbow Room to benefit the Stella Adler School of Acting. Stritch — an alumna — recalled: “When Ellen (Stella’s daughter) and I were both dating Marlon (Brando), Stella invited him to lunch at the Plaza. After lunch she said, ‘Marlon, you are not going to see Ellen any more…unless, darling, you marry her!’” Stritch chuckled: “Three waiters dropped their trays.” Stritch also recalled: “Stella made a purchase at Tiffany’s and when asked where to send it, she gave a New York address. ‘I thought you were English’ said the sales lady.’ Stella replied: ‘I’m not British… just affected.’” Stritch smiled: “I started to talk like her! And it scared the s**t out of me!”

Elaine Stritch and Masha Leon // Photo by Karen Leon

When I called Ellen Adler for some Stritch memories, she told me that her mother — grand dame of the legendary Adler Yiddish Theater dynasty — would say: “’When students come to me, they are bums. They don’t know how to talk, how to walk. When they leave me, they are artists.’” As an afterthought, Ellen Adler said: “When Marlon and Elaine were my mother’s students — both he and my mother would always yell at Stritch ‘Silence’!’”

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Dwight Howard Irks Jews With #FreePalestine Tweet

By Gabe Friedman

Getty Images

Basketball superstar Dwight Howard’s foray into commentary on the crisis in the Middle East only lasted about 15 minutes. However, that was more than long enough to make headlines and draw the ire of thousands of twitter users.

On Saturday, Howard tweeted #FreePalestine but deleted the tweet in about fifteen minutes according to The Wire.

Later that day, he tweeted “previous tweet was a mistake. I have never commented on international politics and never will.”

Nevertheless, the backlash was swift.

Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, said that he should be “publicly condemned as strong as Donald Sterling was,” a reference to the Los Angeles Clippers owner who came under withering attack for disparaging remarks about black people.

Omri Casspi – a teammate of Howard’s last year on the Houston Rockets and the only Israeli player to ever be drafted and play in the NBA – responded to Howard’s tweet on Saturday.

Casspi had also been vocal on Twitter during the #bringbackourboys campaign during the search for the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers.

Howard, who believes himself to be God’s messenger in the NBA, seems to have quickly learned the consequences of political commentary.

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Robert Downey Jr. and Wife Expecting Second Child

By Anne Cohen

Mazel tov to Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey!

Iron Man and his real life Pepper Pots are expecting a baby girl. The 49-year-old actor announced the news on Facebook on July 9.

And sent out a tweet, just to be sure:

The couple, who met in 2003, were married in a Jewish ceremony at Amagansett, New York in 2005. Susan Downey gave birth to their first son together, Exton Elias Downey, in February 2012.

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3.2 Gazillion 'Nazi' Jokes on Twitter for World Cup

By Rachel X. Landes

As Germany hammered Brazil during the World Cup match yesterday 7-1, Twitter exploded in reaction tweets. With a record 36.6 million tweets were sent out during the match, the Germany-Brazil match became the most discussed sports event in Twitter history.

Unsurprisingly a large fraction of those tweets were, well, Nazi jokes.

Of course the ever obvious:

Some pointed out the problem of Holocaust jokes:

And others attempted to be clever:

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Dishing on Jewish 'Bachelorette' Andi Dorfman

By Maia Efrem

Reporter (and sometimes comedian) extraordinare Brian Williams, has a few opinions about Jewish Bachelorette Andi Dorfman and her somewhat lackluster remaining choice of men.

Williams appeared on Late Night Seth Meyers with his own fatherly advice for Andi, a former district attorney in her native of Atlanta.

“Opportunities as a homemaker in Iowa? Hello, Red Flag!” he said about Chris the farmer, who happens to live 500 miles from the nearest anything, courthouse included.

A master with words, Williams described the men in one sentence: “One is wealthy, one is wrapped up in the NFL draft, the other one has a mom who casts a heavy vote in the family and the other’s from Iowa.”

Last night’s episode of the ABC hit reality show saw Andi on hometown dates with the four remaining bachelors, with the intention of cutting it down to three. But the emotional crux of the episode was when Andi and the men were told Eric Hill, an axed bachelor of the show, had died in a paragliding accident.

In the end only Josh, Nick and Chris remained. Andi sent puppy-eyed Marcus home. Having told her he loved her too early in the show, she feared she might not catch up to his feelings. Andi has repeatedly goaded the men to express their feelings and sometimes pushed them into telling her they loved her. She wanted vulnerability and emotions, but looks like Marcus laid it on too thick for her comfort.

Will Andi become an NFL sister-in-law and choose Josh? Will she drive a tractor barefoot and pregnant in Iowa? Or will she join the family wall of photos as Nick’s bride?

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