The Shmooze

Melissa Rivers Speaks Out on Joan Rivers Oscars Snub

By Anne Cohen

Getty Images

Fans were outraged that Joan Rivers was left out of the Oscars’ “In Memoriam” segment — but her daughter seems to be taking the high road.

In a statement posted to Joan Rivers’ official Facebook page, Melissa Rivers basically told everyone to please, take a chill pill:

“It would have been nice, especially considering the impact she had on the awards season, but Cooper and I have been overwhelmed with support and love over my mom’s passing and we choose to focus on that.”

Rivers paid tribute to her mom — who pioneered the iconic question: “Who are you wearing?” — during her Oscars red carpet coverage on E!

The Academy kind-of-not-really apologized for the oversight, telling The Hollywood Reporter: “After the ceremony was over, a rep for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences told BuzzFeed News: “Joan Rivers is among the many worthy artists and filmmakers we were unfortunately unable to feature in the ‘In Memoriam’ segment of this year’s Oscar show. She is, however, included in our ‘In Memoriam’ gallery on Oscar.com.”

Rivers wasn’t the only one snubbed — Jewish actress Elaine Stritch was also left out. Not cool, Oscars.

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Idina Menzel's Revenge and 6 More Thumbs-Up at the Oscars

By John A. Oswald

All in all, it was a decent night for the Tribe at the 87th Academy Awards.

Among the high notes:

IDINA’S REVENGE: Last year, John Travolta botched the name of Idina Menzel our second-favorite Jewish diva (after Barbra). This year Adele Dazeem got her revenge as the two collaborated to present best song to Glory. “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage my very dear friend, Glom Gazingo,” Menzel said in what was the funniest bit of the night.

TRIUMPH OF ‘IDA’: The black-and-white drama, a story about what happens when a woman about to take her vows as a Catholic nun finds out she’s really an Old Testament gal, won best foreign-language flick. And director Pawel Pawlikowski took home the informal category of best acceptance speech as he refused to be rushed off the stage by Oscar’s orchestra. He talked over them with a hilarious bit of extra thank-you’s, shutting the exit guides down.

SCARLETT’S TWO-FER: The talented Jewish beauty introduced the event that saved the night: Gaga singing The Sound of Music. And then there was the “if-looks-could-kill” moment earlier on the red carpet, where she all but rolled her eyes when Travolta snuck up behind her and stole a kiss.

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Steven Spielberg Beats God for Oscars Thank You's

By Lior Zaltzman


If you watched the Oscar last night, you, like me, might be all “thank you”-ed out. It’s all about the “members of the academy,” God and mom and dad. Last night, a film-maker even thanked his dog.

But who ranks No. 1 in the Oscar gratitude-meter? No, it’s not HaShem, but rather, a small, bearded Jewish man, responsible for’ Jaws’ and ‘Schindler’s List’.

Yes, with more than twice as many thank you’s than God almighty, Steven Spielberg was thanked 42 times at the Oscar’s podium. Followed not so closely by another powerful Hollywood Jew, Harvey Weinstein.

God was way behind at 20, edging out Martin Scorsese with 15 and Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Here’s the top 10 list:

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How Lady Gaga Saved Us From Debbie Downer Oscars

By John A. Oswald


I was a little harsh on Lady Gaga when, half-joking, I accused her and Tony Bennett of mugging our dear Jewish diva Barbra Streisand at the Grammys.

Today, I am singing Gaga’s praises for turning around what had become the Debbie Downer Academy Awards with an exuberant “Sound of Music” montage celebrating the 50th anniversary of that most Jewish of Hollywood musicals.

Until that magic moment, I almost forgot the reason many Americans tune in to award shows: to be entertained. In the spirit of Jewish funny lady Rachel Dratch’s most-famous SNL character, I was pretty sure I was sitting through a four-hour political polemic.

Consider:

Host Neil Patrick Harris got the ball rolling with an unfunny and unfortunate quip about the whiteness of the show’s list of nominees – a huge controversy this year.

“Whiplash” star J.K. Simmons just made me feel sad when he used Best Supporting Actor Oscar speech to tell me what I don’t need more guilt for not doing “Call your mom, call your dad. If you are lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call them …. Tell them you love them and thank them.”

Really?

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Joan Rivers Snubbed at Oscars

By JTA

Getty Images

(JTA) — Jewish artists and themes featured among the winners at the 87th Academy Awards in Hollywood Sunday night, but the star-studded night was marred when the show overlooked the death Joan Rivers.

The evening’s “In Memoriam” segment, devoted to film industry notables who have passed away over the past year, included, among others, Israeli filmmaker Menachem Golan, director Mike Nichols, and legendary film actress Lauren Bacall. A number of writers and people on Twitter were outraged that Rivers, a perennial red-carpet favorite, was not mentioned.

The Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film went to “Ida,” a Polish film about a Catholic novitiate who learns she is the daughter of Jewish parents killed by the Nazis.

But Israel’s losing streak at the Oscars continued, as the short film “Aya,” co-written and co-directed by Mihal Brezis and Oded Binnun and starring Sarah Adler, failed to win for Best Short Film.

The director of “Ida,” Pawel Pawlikowski, whose paternal grandmother was Jewish and died in Auschwitz, was asked during a backstage interview whether he considers the Holocaust and the fate of the Jewish people one aspect of post-World War II Poland. Pawlikowski, in his response, tried to shift the emphasis.

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'Grand Budapest Hotel' Leads Oscar Nominations

By Anne Cohen

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the nominations for the 87th Academy Awards. Winners will be revealed in Los Angeles on Feb. 22, when Neil Patrick Harris makes his debut as Oscars host. Leading the pack is Wes Anderson’s “Grand Budapest Hotel,” inspired by the writings of Austrian-Jewish novelist Stefan Zweig, with 9 nominations (including Best Picture and Best Director).

Also in the kind-of-Jewish movie category is “Ida,” Poland’s nominee for best cinematography and best foreign-language film, which tells the tale of a Catholic nun who learns that her parents were Jews killed in the Holocaust. “Wild Tales,” directed by the Argentinian-Jewish Damian Szifron, also earned a nom in the latter category.

Here’s the full list — better get started on those Oscar ballots:

Following is a list of nominees in leading categories.

BEST PICTURE

“American Sniper”
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
“Boyhood”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Imitation Game”
“Selma”
“The Theory of Everything”
“Whiplash”

BEST ACTOR

Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”
Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”
Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
Michael Keaton, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

BEST ACTRESS

Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night”
Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”
Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”
Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”

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John Travolta's Flowery Apology to Idina Menzel

By Anne Cohen

When John Travolta apologizes, he does it properly.

After seriously butchering Idina Menzel’s name at the Oscars (in case you live under a rock, or you know, don’t have Internet, he called her “Adela Dazeem”), the 60-year-old actor reportedly sent a little gift to the Jewish Broadway star’s dressing room.

“He sent her a big, gorgeous bouquet of flowers to her dressing room,” a source told E!News. “It was HUGE. It was his apology to her.”

“It was clear he felt very bad about it,” the source added. “And by the size of the arrangement it was an obvious ‘forgive me please’ gesture.’”

The name flub launched a thousand memes, including a widget on Slate allowing readers to “Travoltify” their names.

I’ve been beating myself up all day,” the “Pulp Fiction” star said in a statement right after the snafu. “Then I thought…What would Idina Menzel say? She’d say, ‘Let it go, let it go!’ Idina is incredibly talented and I am so happy ‘Frozen’ took home two Oscars Sunday night!”

Menzel is now starring in “If/Then” on Broadway.

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John Travolta Sorry for 'Travolta-izing' Idina Menzel's Name

By Forward Staff

John Travolta is sorry for pulling a ‘Travolta’ on Idina Menzel at the Oscars.

The chagrined Hollywood star apologized for mangling Tony winner Idina Menzel’s name as he introduced her performance of the song “Let It Go” at the Oscars.

Travolta, 60, said he’s been “beating myself up” over the gaffe during Sunday night’s broadcast.

He randomly called the Jewish performer “Adele Dazeem.”

“Then I thought … What would Idina Menzel say? She’d say, ‘Let it go, let it go!’” he added in a statement.

Menzel sang the hit from the animated film “Frozen” after the cringeworthy intro. It went on to win the Oscar for Best Song.

Travolta’s slip sparked a meme on social media where anyone’s name can be “Travolta-ized” into weird and nonsensical variations. Slate even launched an interactive widget that let users “Travoltify” their name.

Menzel, 42, starred in “Rent” and “Wicked” on Broadway and is in previews for her new show, “If/Then.”

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6 Jewish Things on the Oscars Red Carpet

By Lauren Davidson

There’s only one day on the Jewish calendar more important than Rosh Hashanah for looking your spanking best. And our favorite Hollywood Hebrews were out in full force at the Academy Awards. Here’s six Jewish things about the Oscars red carpet.

Let’s get the bad ones out of the way first.

Bette Midler’s choice of red flowers (roses, perhaps?) was unfortunate. The capped-sleeve Reem Acra dress looked like it had been embroidered onto her body. But it didn’t really matter because all eyes were on Midler’s beaming face. “She was nice enough to make [the dress] in my size,” she laughed.

Ms. Midler Tweeted earlier: “She actually came to my house!”

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Behind-the-Scenes Jews Score at the Oscars

By JTA

Spike Jonze won Oscar for best original screenplay/Getty Images

After some fairly lean Oscar years, full or partial Members of the Tribe scored well at the 86th Academy Awards, though mainly in the less glamorous, behind-the-scenes categories.

Israeli-American producer Arnon Milchan, who is an acknowledged intelligence operative for Israel’s nuclear weapon program, shared in the celebration for best picture winner “12 Years a Slave” as one of the seven listed producers who won a golden statuette on Sunday night.

Woody Allen, a regular non-attending entry at the Oscars, failed to win the original screenplay trophy for his “Blue Jasmine.” However, the honor went to “Her” writer Spike Jonze, born Adam Spiegel and the son of a Jewish father.

Perhaps the most satisfying win of the evening, from a Jewish perspective, went to “The Lady in No. 6: Music Saved My Life.” The short documentary tells the story of 110-year old concert pianist and Holocaust survivor Alice Herz-Sommer, who died exactly one week before the award ceremony.

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Bette Midler to Sing at the Oscars For First Time

By Anne Cohen

Hey wait — is there an awards ceremony pegged to a Bette Midler performance on March 2nd?

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Divine Miss M will be performing at the 86th Annual Academy Awards, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres. Despite having been nominated twice, for her roles in”The Rose” (1979) and “For the Boys” (1991) , the actress and singer has never once performed during the telecast.

“We are thrilled to have Bette perform on the Oscars for the very first time,” Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron said in a statement. “We believe she will make our Oscar telecast an especially moving evening.”

Midler, 68, tweeted out the news to her 533,000 followers on Wednesday:

It’s almost enough to make us want to sit through the award for Best Sound Mixing. Almost.

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'The Dictator' Meant Those Ashes for George Clooney

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

Whoops! You know those Kim Jong-il “ashes” that Sacha Baron Cohen — in character as the Supreme Leader of Wadiya — spilled all over Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet at the Oscars? Well, it turns out that they were originally meant for George Clooney…and that the provocateur is contrite over the incident.

Last weekend, Baron Cohen made a surprise cameo on Saturday Night Live and used the opportunity to apologize to Seacrest, who was also on the set. “I didn’t realize that ‘The Dictator’ was doing a walk on cameo [on SNL]!” Seacrest said, according to Perez Hilton. “He comes off stage and comes over to me. He breaks character and says, ‘Sorry about the Oscars. It wasn’t personal.’”

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Joan Rivers Disses Angelina Jolie

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

Joan Rivers is known primarily for two things: her addiction to plastic surgery and her predilection for calling it like she sees it — on the red carpet and off. She’s in the news most recently for the latter, only in this instance she issued her commentary with even less tact than usual.

Rivers, like the rest of us, did not miss Angelina Jolie’s revealing display of leg on her way into the Academy Awards ceremony this past Sunday. That exposed appendage is now so famous that it has several of its own Twitter accounts. The first of them (with 39,410 followers) opened just a mere few minutes after we all got a glimpse of gam.

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Is Natalie Portman Married? Yes!

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

UPDATE: The rings say it all—Natalie tied the knot.

Natalie Portman and Benjamin MIllepied are officially married, Us Magazine reported.

The rings that actress Natalie Portman and her fiancé Benjamin Millepied were wearing at the Academy Awards this past Sunday could very well have signaled that they’ve made it official. But Portman’s reps wouldn’t confirm one way or another to the New York Daily News, so the Shmooze doesn’t know what to think.

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Big Win for French Jewish Director

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

French President Nicolas Sarkozy publicly congratulated actor Jean Dujardin and director Michel Hazanavicius on winning the Oscars for best actor and best director, respectively. The president proudly stated that these awards, along with three others (including best picture) for “The Artist” “demonstrate the exceptional vitality of our cinema and the success of our policy of supporting the excellence of this great French industry.”

The Jewish community in France is likely doubly excited about Hazanavicius’s win, as he is the son and grandson of French Jews who survived the German occupation of France by hiding in the country’s hillsides, according to The Algemeiner. The director’s family is originally Lithuanian, with his grandparents having settled in France in the 1920s.

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At the 'Footnote' Oscar Viewing Party

By Rex Weiner

Tipi Cedar at the Oscar viewing party

At an Academy Awards viewing party sponsored by the Israeli Consulate together with the Israeli Leadership Council at the Luxe Hotel on Sunset Boulevard, the moment when the Iranian film “A Separation” won the Oscar was greeted by a heartfelt moan. “Footnote,” the comic drama directed by Israeli filmmaker Joseph Cedar about a pair of father-and-son Talmudic scholars, had failed to snag the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in Israel’s 10th Academy Award nomination in the category.

But not everybody took the loss as hard.

“It doesn’t matter as long as he can create that’s all that I care about,” Tipi Cedar, mother of the 44 year old Orthodox filmmaker, told the Forward. “He’s a mensch.”

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Oscar Night Highlights

By Eileen Reynolds

Getty Images

Oscar night has come and gone, and now the real fun begins. With the glitzy spectacle fresh in our minds, this is the time to dissect, analyze, and discuss. Best and worst dressed? Start with our red-carpet photo slideshow. Which victories were well deserved? Who should’ve won but went home empty handed? Check out our list of historic wins to see how this year’s nominees measure up against the greatest Oscar winners of all time.

Best speech? Worst joke? Sweetest red-carpet couple? Read on to see how this year’s crop of Jewish nominees, presenters and guests — from Steven Spielberg to Natalie Portman to Sacha Baron Cohen — fared at the 84th Annual Academy Awards.

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Behind the Scenes: 'Footnote' Pre-Oscar Party

By Rex Weiner

Rex Weiner
Joseph Cedar

Israeli-born producer Avi Lerner can’t compare the film “Footnote” to the blockbusters that he produces. “It’s a different movie,” he said of the Israeli film, which is nominated for an Academy Award in Best Foreign Language Film category. Lerner, who has produced big-budget action movies like “The Expendables” and low-budget exploitation flicks like “Crocodile 2: Death Swamp,” was among the 50 guests gathered for a pre-Oscar party for “Footnote” at a private home in Beverly Hills Thursday night.

The comic drama, about a pair of father-and-son Talmudic scholars, snagged Israel its 10th Academy Award nomination in the category and, Lerner hopes, the nation’s first win when Oscars are handed out Sunday night.

Sponsored by the Israeli Consulate and L.A.’s upcoming 26th Israel Film Festival, the festivities were hosted by Shanit Schwartz and her husband, Sam, a talent agent whose stable boasts many of film and TV’s top musical composers. Guests entering the Schwartz’s art-filled villa emerged onto a hilltop with sunset views toward the distant Channel Islands and, just across the way, the $30 million driveway (yes, driveway) that leads to the home of Sam and Shanit’s neighbor, Microsoft mogul Paul Allen.

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Jews Sweep Academy Award Nominations

By Michael Kaminer

Nominations for the 83rd annual Academy Awards, announced this morning, were good for the Jews.

Shoo-ins Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”) and Jesse Eisenberg (“The Social Network”) got Best Actress and Actor nods, respectively. James Franco, whose mother is Jewish, also scored a Best Actor nod for his role in “127 Hours.”

“Black Swan” director Darren Aronofsky earned a Best Director nomination, along with “True Grit” helmers Joel and Ethan Coen. “The Fighter” director David O. Russell, son of a Jewish father and Italian-American mother, also got a Best Director nomination.

Jews also ruled the screenwriting categories. Debra Granik scored a nod in the Best Adapted Screenplay category for the brutal “Winter’s Bone,” while Hollywood vet Aaron Sorkin earned his for Facebook docudrama “The Social Network,” as did fellow A-lister Scott Silver for scrappy Boston epic “The Fighter.” In the same category, the Coen Brothers won the Academy’s attention for their highly acclaimed adaptation of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel “True Grit.” British improv-drama icon Mike Leigh was nominated in the Best Original Screenplay category for “Another Year,” his sobering look at happiness — and the lack thereof — among the British chattering classes. And British-born, Long Island-raised David Seidler got his first Oscar nomination — in the Original Screenplay slot — for “The King’s Speech”.

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Golden Globes Arbiter of Seats Is an Israeli Journalist

By Nathan Burstein

Jews don’t run Hollywood, but it turns out an Israeli controls the Golden Globes — much to the dissatisfaction of some inside the entertainment industry.

Judith Solomon, a writer for Israeli magazine Women’s World, has earned a long list of Hollywood enemies as the person responsible for seating at the pre-Oscars award ceremony.

A new profile reports that Solomon caused a “mini world war” last year when she decreed that agents and managers couldn’t sit in “the pit,” the high-visibility area closest to the Golden Globes stage.

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