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“Modern Orthodox” – ANTM Contestant Gives Up Sabbath for Modeling

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

One contestant on America’s Next Top Model identifies herself as Modern Orthodox (Jewish), and then seems to easily give up her Sabbath observance when pressed by Tyra Banks about working 24/7.

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“Bridging the Gap” – Jewish and Middle Eastern Comics Laugh Together

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Comedians Avi Liberman and Ahmed Ahmed co-host “Bridging the Gap: A Middle East Comedy Conference,” September 16 on Showtime.

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Hut vs. Hut – Artists Take on the Sukkah

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

New York Magazine’s competition to build an artistic sukkah (hut used during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot) yields 12 finalists.

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Cameron Dives Deep for Birthday, Plants Trees for the World

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

When you’re James Cameron, director of Avatar, how do you spend your birthday? If you said, “submerging yourself beneath a Russian lake,” you’re correct!

‘Lost’ Series Finale Review: Initial Thoughts

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Some initial thoughts about the Lost series finale.

Shavuot: Beyond Blintzes, the Notion of Nation

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

While it isn’t as popular as Chanukah or Passover, the Jewish holiday of Shavuot (Feast of Weeks, which counts the weeks between Passover and this holiday), which Jews celebrated this week, represents what I think are some of the best […]

May the Force Be With Us

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

For fans, Star Wars Day 2010 arrives and provokes reflections on religion and popular culture.

What Do We Want From ‘Lost’?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Lost is ending its six-season run on May 23. What are our expectations for its last four episodes?

Network Pilot Season: Popular Stars, Producers, Premises Abound

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Popular stars, producers, and premises abound in this list of potential network TV pilots.

‘Restore Stephen Baldwin’ Uses Job Story to Inspire Donations

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

A new website asks for donations to help restore the lost wealth of outspoken Christian actor Stephen Baldwin.

‘Open Your Heart’ to ‘Glee’

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

This week’s Glee tackled teen sexuality – against the empowering backdrop of Madonna’s music.

South Park Creators Tackle ‘Book of Mormon’ for Broadway

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

South Park and Avenue Q creators team up for new Broadway musical titled “The Book of Mormon.”

Vatican on The Beatles: ‘Not the Best Example, But Forgiven’

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

After decades, the Vatican absolves the Beatles.

Baron Cohen Leads Simpsons Through Holy Land

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Homer, Marge and the gang head to Israel.

Mazal Tov: Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla “Ayala” Fisher

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher wed in a Jewish ceremony.

National Day of Unplugging: a Sabbath from Technology

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

This weekend marks a National Day of Unplugging: an organization called Reboot created the “Sabbath Manifesto,” which provides ten core principles to guide the unplugging.

Top 5 ‘Twilight’-Themed Parody Videos

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse get the parody treatment on YouTube.

I Love Vampires, But Not ‘Twilight': What Am I Missing?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

I love fictional vampires, especially the ones that show signs of more substance than just the bite-and-kill instinct. First, there’s my well-documented love for all things Buffy, plus I have read every Anne Rice book, and even saw that awful […]

Purim’s Star-Power: Can You Shpiel It?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

The Jewish holiday Purim is about remembering persecution, celebrating redemption, and pushing identity, examining who we really are in contrast to how we present ourselves to the world (that’s where the costumes come in). That’s the serious stuff – but […]

Idol Chatter at the Movieguide Awards

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

TV and film actors gathered for the Movieguide Faith and Value Awards to recognize the best family-friendly movies and TV shows of the previous year.

Record Release, Tour Dates for The Macaroons

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

JDub Records announced the official release date of “Let’s Go Coconuts!,” the debut album by inaugural JDub Kids band The Macaroons.

Madonna to Pen Film about Forbidden Royal Romance

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Madonna to write film based on the scandalous 1930s romance of Kim Edward VIII and divorcee Wallis Simpson.

City, Minus Sex, Plus Religion Equals “Srugim”

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

An Israeli TV show featuring the Orthodox Jewish singles scene hits US TV sets via the Jewish Channel.

‘We Are the World’ Redux to Help Haiti

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

USA for Africa reforms with today’s celebrities to rerecord 1985’s “We Are the World” and raise funds for Haiti.

CBS Nixes Gay Online Dating Ad for Superbowl, Accepts Pro-Life Spot

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

CBS rejects a proposed Superbowl ad from gay online dating site ManCrunch.com, but accepts a pro-life advocacy commercial from Focus on the Family.

Stephen Baldwin Regrets Miley Tattoo

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Stephen Baldwin tattooed Miley Cyrus’s initials on his body to try to get a part on her show.

‘Holy Rollers’ – Faith’s Agony and Ecstasy

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

“Holy Rollers” features themes of faith and blind faith in a film (now at Sundance) about a Hasidic ecstasy dealer.

Hamas TV Cartoon Depicts Jews and Palestinian Authority Police as Enemies

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

It’s another hit for Al Aqsa TV. Hamas’ terrorist TV channel — which (according to the NY Post) “routinely indoctrinates kids by portraying Israelis as ghouls — is launching a new cartoon series that depicts another enemy, the Palestinian Authority […]

Texting Aid to Haiti, $10 at a Time

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

An online campaign to text aid to Haiti $10 at a time through the Red Cross takes off on Twitter.

Miep Gies, Rescuer of Anne Frank’s Diary, Dies at 100

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Miep Gies, Anne Frank’s rescuer, has died at the age of 100.

Decade of TV: The Greats, According to TONY

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

The top 50 television shows of the decade, according to Time Out New York.

Facebook Status Updates: Family (#5) and Religion (#15)

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

What did our Facebook status updates say about us in 2009?

Susan Sarandon-Tim Robbins Split After 23 Years

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins split after 23 years of non-marriage.

Brittany Murphy, 32, Dies of Cardiac Arrest

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

“Clueless” star Brittany Murphy died Sunday at age 32 of cardiac arrest.

Roy Disney Dies at Age 79

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Roy E. Disney, son of Roy O. Disney and nephew of Walt Disney (who together founded Disney), died in Newport Beach, CA today at the age of 79. He worked in the family business for years, as an editor, screenwriter […]

What’s New in Jewish Music This Hanukkah?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

A review of some new (and nearly new) Hanukkah songs.

ABBA in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: What is Rock Anyway?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Are you ready to rock??? Presenting…ABBA! If those two sentences are confusing you, you’re not alone. Today, the LA Times announced that ABBA – among others, including the less shrug-inducing Genesis, The (almost Air Supply sounding) Hollies, reggae-ska-pop artist Jimmy […]

Conan’s Max Weinberg Sings Response to Orrin Hatch’s Hanukkah Tune

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Max Weinberg, of “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien,” responds in song to Orrin Hatch’s “Eight Days of Hanukkah” song.

G-dcast’s Spin on Chanukah

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

An animated video series helps to round out the education on what Chanukah is about.

Teen Faith: You Must Be This Old to Ride This Theology

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Are teenagers able to define their own theologies?

Macaroons Sing for Jewish Kids

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Guster and the Zambonis spawned The LeeVees, a band that played Hanukkah rock songs; then The LeeVees birthed The Macaroons, a band that plays Jewish rock for kids.

Ian McKellen vs. Hotel Bibles

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

While visiting hotels, openly gay actor Sir Ian McKellen rips the page calling homosexuality an “abomination” from the hotels’ Bibles.

Comedy Central Goes to Abu Dhabi

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Comedy Central starts a Middle East comedy channel in Abu Dhabi.

Equal Opportunity Offender? The ‘Family Guy’ Special

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Is “The Family Guy” an equal opportunity offender, or just anti-Semitic? Or are there things that some will always view as comedically “off-limits”?

Revisiting Anne’s Attic: ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ (BBC)

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

A new BBC version of “The Diary of Anne Frank” takes a slightly different approach, including a more authentic narrative.

We Are All Vampires, Especially Don Draper

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Are we all vampires? And what do vampires have to do with “Mad Men”?

Sacha Baron Cohen: Homer’s Holy Land Tour Guide

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

When the Simpsons visit Israel early next year, look for their tour guide to be played by “Bruno”‘s Sacha Baron Cohen.

Puck’s Simchas Torah Inspiration on ‘Glee’

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

On “Glee,” Puck finds dating inspiration in the Jewish holiday of Simchas Torah.

Glee’s Puck Sings to Honor Jewish Icon

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

One of Glee’s Jewish characters sings a song in tribute to a Jewish musical icon.

Glee’s Jewish Characters

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

A look at a few Jewish characters on “Glee.”

Questions for Dead Celebs? Join the Tweance

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Twitter users will have the chance to ask questions of dead celebrities during October 30th’s first ever “Tweance” – a seance conducted over Twitter.

‘Sell the Vatican, Feed the World’

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Comedian Sarah Silverman proposes selling the Vatican to fund the eradication of world hunger.

Playboy’s Newest Cover Model: Marge Simpson

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Playboy’s November issue will feature Marge Simpson on its cover and in a three-page spread with “implied nudity.”

‘Family Goy’ Episode Explores Lois Griffin’s Jewish Identity

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

People who watch “Family Guy” are used to a strong case of the random and bizarre. This week is no different, as we’re treated to a seemingly appropro of nothing Superfriends intro credits and two seemingly unrelated storylines (Quagmire discovers […]

Anne Frank’s Diary: Lauded by Prose, But Mamet’s Version Canceled by Disney

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

One new book is published about Anne Frank’s diary, and David Mamet’s proposed film on the subject is rejected by Disney.

Kirk Cameron vs. Charles Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Actor Kirk Cameron and friends are distributing versions of “Origin of Species” that includes a 50-page introduction presenting the theory intelligent design.

10Q Tackles Repentance’s Biggest Problem

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

10Q, a project of Reboot, helps repentance by sending this year’s promises back to us next year to see how we did at fulfilling them.

Religions Raise Awareness of Poverty, Other Afflictions Through Uniting Concept: Sabbath

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

One Sabbath is an initiative designed to use the concept of Sabbath, across multiple religions, to raise awareness of global poverty and disease.

Patrick Swayze’s Social Media Mourners

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Patrick Swayze’s death had huge echoes online, as fans Tweeted and updated their status to pay tribute to the “Dirty Dancing” star.

Jennifer Aniston, Relationship Expert: On Failure

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

I used to hate romantic comedies starring Jennifer Aniston. Jennifer is beautiful, funny and has a winning personality – if the premise of a movie was “Jennifer Aniston has trouble finding a man,” then what kind of shot did the […]

Lovitz vs. Cruise: Religious Cagematch on ‘Conan”

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

The religious debate of the century: Jon Lovitz on behalf of Judaism, Tom Cruise representing Scientology in a most hallowed venue: on the Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.

Gyllenhaal, Messing, Applegate, Other Celebs to Say ‘Shalom Sesame’ for Israel-Themed Kids’ Show

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

A new kids’ program from the creators of Sesame Street examines Jewish life and identity and life in Israel, and will feature several Hollywood celebrities.

Lady Goes Gaga for Jerusalem: Promised to Tone It Down

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Lady Gaga’s excited to be in Israel and to visit Jerusalem. So much so that she’s promised to “tone it down” for Israeli fans.

Madonna to Take Children to Auschwitz

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Madonna is taking her children to visit the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz.

Legendary Writer/Director John Hughes Dies at Age 59

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

The Hollywood Reporter obituary was simple: John Hughes, director of “The Breakfast Club,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” and “Home Alone,” died of a heart attack Thursday. He was 59. Hughes died while taking a morning walk […]

Seth Rogen’s ‘Funny People’ Shirt Prompts a Question: What Is a SuperJew?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Esther Kustanowitz talks about the “SuperJew” T-shirt, newly popularized by Seth Rogan in “Funny People.”

Her Madgesty, the International Correspondent

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Madonna has been published in the Jewish paper Yediot Ahronot as an international correspondent. But is her writing any good?

Madonna the Journalist?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Madonna branches out into journalism, penning an essay for an Israeli newspaper about her spiritual awakening.

The Daily Show, With…Jonathan Leibowitz?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

A discussion of whether Jon Stewart should change his name back to his original, more Jewish birth name, Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz.

Kosher Phones, Using Tech to Control Your Followers, and ‘Jewish Girls in Krakow’

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

When you do a Google search in your brain for “Jewish Theater” and “New York,” you probably get “search results” that include “Fiddler on the Roof,” maybe a Yiddish play or two, a revival of “The Dybbuk.” But you probably […]

Whoaaa: Mayim Bialik Returns to TV

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Most people remember Mayim Bialik as the precocious heroine of the show “Blossom,” itself famous for another character named “Six,” and which provided a TV home for Joey Lawrence and his signature exclamation, “Whoaaa.” Others may remember even further back, […]

Beastie Boy Adam Yauch Diagnosed with Parotid Gland Cancer

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Earlier today, Beastie Boy Adam “MCA” Yauch explained– via YouTube video clip– that he had been diagnosed with salivary gland cancer and would be canceling several dates in their upcoming tour schedule. While promoting their upcoming album in Europe, Yauch […]

No Hogwarts Required: Practice Wizardry on Your iPhone

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

“Expecto iPhonum!” If you’re like me, you’ve spent the last several years pointing at pens and chanting “wingardium leviosa,” in fruitless attempts to get your writing implements to float in the air. (What, that’s just me?) But now a new […]

Mazal Tov: Ivanka Trump Engaged to Jared Kushner

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

There’s an old phrase used to talk about the challenges of an interfaith relationship: “a bird may love a fish,” the expression goes, ” but where will they build a home?” Finding a place to live is not going to […]

Sacha Baron Cohen Threatened by ‘Alleged Terrorist’…With a Lawsuit

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

It seems like Sacha Baron Cohen isn’t happy unless someone’s unhappy with him. He’s been the subject of lawsuits in the wake of his last movie, “Borat,” and now he’s back in the news, having offended many over the scenes […]

LaToya Jackson Cries ‘Foul Play’ in Michael Jackson’s Death

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Michael Jackson’s been gone two weeks. There have been insane outpourings of sympathy and invective from fans and haters, respectively. There’s been one of what will likely be many memorials, that had locals grumbling about the cost to the state […]

Today’s Favorite Thing: ‘Harry Potter: The Musical’

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

If you’re like me, you know the best thing you can do is take something you already love, and add three simple things: a colon, and the two words “The Musical.” For instance: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Musical.” “Night […]

Buffy Vs. Edward

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

You knew it was bound to happen in the age of the YouTube video mashup: just because Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Edward, the broody vamp from “Twilight,” exist in different media doesn’t mean they shouldn’t work together. I mean, […]

Jews in Sports? It’s a Fantasy…Camp

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

The famous joke goes: “One person asks, ‘did you hear someone published a book about Jews in sports?’ and the other person says, ‘yeah, it’s a pamphlet.’” With a few exceptions, Jews are not so well-represented on the athletics side […]

Need a Hasid for Your Film? Call Rabbi Elli – He’ll Hook You Up

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

If you’re setting a film or television program in New York City, and are casting background actors, you’re probably going to need a few good men…specifically, Hasidic Jews. These ultra-Orthodox Jews are part of the NY landscape, and–from television shows […]

Koogle: The Search Engine for Orthodox Jews

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

If there’s one thing that’s threatening to the Orthodox Jewish community–aside from assimilation, intermarriage, single Jews marrying later and having fewer kids, women’s singing voices, etc.–it’s the internet. The internet can provide lots of information, but there’s lots of immodest […]

American Apparel Settles with Woody Allen Over Billboard

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Remember the Woody Allen billboard for American Apparel? Remember the lawsuit for $10M by the Woodman against the “vertically integrated” clothing company that indicated the billboard wasn’t in any way approved of by Woody Allen? Well, there’s a settlement, and […]

She’s Baaaack: Sarah Palin Gets a Book Deal

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Tina Fey, better find your Sarah specs: Governor Palin has a book deal with HarperCollins to produce a memoir for publication in 2010, the year she’s up for re-election. “There’s been so much written about and spoken about in the […]

Winslet Sues, Clarkson Takes a Body Image Beating

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Over at Entertainment Weekly, a writer is now calling shenanigans on “super-skinny actresses who insist they eat like lumberjacks and never get off the couch.” The hook for this particular declaration is Kate Winslet’s lawsuit against the Daily Mail for […]

Jewish Moments in ‘Star Trek’

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

There’s always something new to appreciate about Star Trek, even for people who have only minimally dipped toes into the mythology of the series and the movies they inspired. For me, there’s one episode I constantly refer to: “The Trouble […]

‘Weeds’ Creator, ‘Tara’ Producer, and the Hebrew Mamita Take on Images of Jewish Women in Media

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

If you’re a consumer of media and you’ve never met a Jew in real life, you’re likely to think all Jewish women are superficial busybodies with New York accents or yiddishe mommas trying to match up their daughters with single […]

Adam Lambert Sings…in Hebrew

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

America loves Adam Lambert. As well they should, because the dude has serious stage presence and amazing vocal range and energy. But what many “Fanberts” (I’m coining that phrase now) might not have known is that he can also take […]

Nellie Oleson Strikes Back

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

A few weeks ago, we shared the news that everyone’s favorite prairie tomboy, Laura Ingalls–and her alter ego, Melissa Gilbert–were hitting the road with a touring company of “Little House on the Prairie: The Musical,” a show of great nostalgic […]

10 Ways Passover is Like ‘Lost’

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

This Wednesday night, Jews worldwide will sit down for the Passover seder, an organized meal with a set order of rituals and readings, which are compiled in the Haggadah. At our seders (Jews outside of Israel generally have two), I […]

Celebs Use Reverse Psychology as Fundraising Pitch: ‘Don’t Give’

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

You’ve heard of reverse psychology? Telling someone not to do something you want them to do it, or to do something you don’t want them to do, with the result that whatever you tell them, they do the opposite. Perhaps […]

Holy Land D’oh!

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Frustrated with the conflict in the Middle East? Wondering if the strife in the region will ever be resolved? Despondent over the fact that Muslims, Jews, and Christians can’t agree on anything? Well, don’t have a sacred cow, man: one […]

Actor/Hero/Dad Grunberg Tweets for Epilepsy Awareness

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

I am a huge fan of Twitter – I adore that it brings me a slice of people’s lives, both strangers and familiars, and allows me to connect with people I might have otherwise never met. Because for me Twitter […]

Harry Potter as Satanist Tool of ‘Ziono-Hollywoodists’

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Oh, Harry Potter–your Quidditch games, your friendships with Hermione and Ron, your crush on Cho Chang, and who could forget “wingardium leviosa” (that’s the spell that helps you float objects)! You’ve inspired the imagination of so many…including, apparently, Iranian TV, […]

Big Trouble for ‘Big Love’?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Thus far, “Big Love” has gone to great lengths to distance their storyline– a polygamous marriage in Utah– from the Mormon faith. The central characters, the Henricksons, don’t refer to themselves as Mormons, and even the throwback sect at Juniper […]

‘Swingers’ at the Seder? That’s Hollywood!

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Every year, our family gathers for the Passover seder (actually we do two seders– sedarim, if you want to be Hebraically accurate– because of our status as Jews in the Diaspora, while in Israel they only have one, but that’s […]

Alice Walker Goes to Gaza

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Yahoo! News reports that Pulitzer-prize winning author Alice Walker, who wrote “The Color Purple,” is traveling to Gaza with a group of female activists to deliver aid and meet with non-governmental organizations and residents. The trip was organized by U.S. […]

Jewish and Scottish? Try the Tartan Tallis

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

The traditional Jewish tallis (or tallit) is blue and white, a fringed prayer shawl with four corners. But if you’re Scottish and Jewish and looking for a way to express your binational pride, now you can own your very own […]

Spinal Tap Tour Announced: ‘Taking it to 11′ in 30 Cities

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Twenty-five years later, and the “Spinal Tap” gang is getting the band back together. The trio at the core of Spinal Tap, a fake heavy metal band profiled in the mockumentary “This is Spinal Tap,” Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest and […]

Use the Force to Go from Large Jabba to Lean Jedi

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Admit it: after you saw “Star Wars,” you tried to use the Force. I’m happy to admit it–I tried to move things across my room, using only my mind. “Heroes” makes me feel special abilities are more possible, but “Star […]

Poet Laureate Tickles Ivories for JBooks.com

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Hard times have come upon many companies, websites and publications. Some of them are asking their readers to become supporters, but this requires a major shift: people who were once being provided a service are now being asked to donate […]

‘Little (Musical) House on the Prairie': Melissa Gilbert as Ma Ingalls

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

As a child, I was pretty obsessed with all things “Little House on the Prairie”– all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and of course the TV show, which explored the life of a Christian family living in Minnesota and […]

Stephen Baldwin Tried to Convert My Friend

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

What would you do if a celebrity tried to convert you? Well, I suppose with all the pop culture/spirituality overlap in my life and work, it was bound to happen: Stephen Baldwin tried to convert my friend over the weekend. […]

Tarantino Gives Nazi-Haters a Different Type of Holocaust Movie

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Nobody does bloody like Quentin Tarantino, with his chatty rat-a-tat dialogue that matches a machine gun that makes the same noises. All you have to do is look at the scene in “Pulp Fiction” where Marvin buys the farm in […]

Israeli Election Campaign Video ‘High’light

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Today is Election Day in Israel. Most Israelis view it as a day of choice with no real choice at all– Tzipi Livni, who’s considered honest, but is unseasoned; or Benyamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, who is viewed as a “failed” former […]

Are People Loving ‘Loving Leah’?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Before “Loving Leah” even Sunday night in California, the east coast calls began. The first call came from my parents. “I hope you’re watching this,” they said. I had plans, I told them, and wouldn’t be home for it. Then […]

$20 Million Travolta Extortion Mystery Continues

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Late last week news broke that someone was trying to extort the Travolta family for $20 million, but no one seemed to know the details. Some thought that the extortion money was to suppress photos taken at the time of […]

‘Lost’ Thoughts

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

As I watched the season premiere of “Lost” Wednesday night on ABC, it occurred to me that all of pop culture’s flash forwards and flashbacks (done masterfully here, in my opinion, as well as in “Damages” and other shows) owe […]

Chile Outraged at ‘Virgin Mary’ Models

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

What is it about Latin American countries and the Blessed Virgin? First there was the Mexican Playboy featuring a sexy Mary on the cover. And now, according to Reuters, fashion designer Ricardo Oyarzun has “sparked outrage in Chile by dressing […]

‘Blessed Is the Match': Holocaust Heroine’s Life, Through Her Mother’s Eyes

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Sure, you’ve heard of Anne Frank. But what about Hannah Senesh? In 1944, Hungarian-born poet Hannah Senesh was safe in Palestine, working the land with a group of young Zionist immigrants, most of whom had fled European persecution. But when […]

Celebrity Coupling and Custody Roundup

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

It’s hard to keep track of what celebs are up to. Starting with the Jen-Brad-Angelina thing: In a recent interview, Jennifer Aniston called Angelina Jolie “uncool” for starting a relationship with her then-husband Brad Pitt. Now Pitt is setting the […]

Dating, Religion and ‘The Sopranos': Pop Culture: Lenses on Ourselves

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

I always wonder what new angle writers will take when tackling the complex issues involved in the dating scene, both in the fiction and non-fiction realms, and what their reasons are. I mean, the books pile up year after year: […]

Willie Aames Spills to Star on Depression, Divorce, Suicide Attempt

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Whether you knew him as Tommy on “Eight is Enough,” Buddy Lembeck on “Charles in Charge,” “that guy who yelled at the cameraman” on “Celebrity Fit Club,” or even occasional alter ego Bibleman, Willie Aames has been in and out […]

Top 10 Jewish Movie Characters

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

When I decided to do a list of top 10 Jewish movie characters, I got to #4 and then stopped. Jews and pop culture are my thing…why could I only come up with four, with one of them being Yentl?? […]

George Clooney Opens a Whinery for Christmas

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

George Clooney, one of the world’s sexiest men, is apparently a huge whiner when he doesn’t get his way. Does this make him any less sexy? View the following clip, featuring Richard Kind’s account of Clooney as one of the more […]

Calendar Boys: Mormon Hunks and Jewish Guys Strut Their Stuff

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Sure, you could get your friends those page-a-day Dilbert desk calendars. Or you could get them one of the new faith-based calendars, bringing daily meditation to a place you’ve never been before. Have you always thought Mormon men weren’t worth […]

Virgin Mary, Playboy-Style

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

I was only reading it for the articles, I swear. But an Idol Chatter editor brought this Playboy cover to my attention, featuring model Maria Florencia Onori posing as the Virgin Mary. She’s not naked, but is instead wearing a […]

New ‘Lights’ and ‘Songs in the Key’ of Hanukkah

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Even if Christmas doesn’t represent an annual temptation for Jews, there’s one area where Hanukkah can’t hold a candle (sorry) to Christmas: Christmas music trumps “I Have a Little Dreidel” every time. Most Hanukkah songs sound like they were created […]

Evan Handler on Faith and Family

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

At the Celebration of Jewish Books this weekend in Los Angeles, actor Evan Handler was making his 11th stop on an 18-city book tour in promotion of his new book, “It’s Only Temporary: The Good News and Bad News of […]

Obama Documentary Bought by HBO

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Since his trip to Africa in 2006, Barack Obama had someone hot on his tail: Edward Norton’s Class 5 Films production company, which had been following Obama on the campaign trail of what became his successful run for U.S. President. […]

Obama Won, So Is Baldwin Canada-Bound?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Ah, Stephen Baldwin. Between your passion for your faith and your movie career, you have provided Idol Chatter with much content over the years. And during this election, you did not disappoint, vocalizing your disapproval of Barack Obama, now our […]

Celebs Speak Out Against Prop 8

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Last week’s election was historic in a major way–with the election of Barack Obama, a Democrat and a liberal supported by many Hollywood folks, it looked like racism had been retired in favor of change and that a more conservative […]

Ellen’s Election Statement: One Step Forward, One Away from Equality

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Outspoken comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres just released a statement about this week’s historic election; no surprise that while she lauded the election of Barack Obama as a step forward, she was disappointed by Prop 8’s ratification.3 “Watching […]

Who Really Won the Election? The Pop Culture Winners

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Bar none, the #1 non-political winner from this year’s election process is Tina Fey. You’d be hard pressed to find another cultural figure who entered the election maelstrom a superstar and emerged a megastar. She was already having a good […]

Michael Crichton, Noted Author, Dies of Cancer

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

According to a recent CNN report, author Michael Crichton has died in Los Angeles, “unexpectedly, after a courageous and private battle against cancer.” He was 66. To some book-lovers, Michael Crichton was known as the six-foot, nine-inch tall author of […]

New Harry Potter 6 Trailer: Score or Snore?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

If you told me that the footage in this new trailer for “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is culled from the previous installments in the series, I would have no trouble believing you. Most of the images and bits […]

‘Zack and Miri’ Advertising Leaves Out the P-Word

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Whether he’s playing Silent Bob, second fiddle to a foul-mouthed, sex-and-drugs-obsessed Jay, or taking on Catholic dogma in the film of the same name, writer/director Kevin Smith (“Chasing Amy,” “Mallrats,” “Dogma”) may not be the most family-friendly of filmmakers. Take […]

Palin to Tina Fey: Keep the ‘Sarah’ Outfit

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

If Sarah Palin’s recent shout out to the well-liked TV comedy star who portrays her on Saturday Night Live is any indication, the VP candidate must be feeling pretty confident about her chances of serving her country. At a rally […]

The Great Hack: Calling Cali Geeks to Defeat Prop 8

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

You’ve heard of “The Great Schlep,” the Internet phenomenon starring comedian Sarah Silverman and urging grandkids everywhere to get down to Florida to make sure their grandparents vote (presumably for Obama). You probably haven’t heard of “The Great Hack,” so […]

And from L.A.: Barack O’Lanterns

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Where passion and politics meet…pumpkins. You gotta love Los Angeles. As a recent transplant from New York, I’m constantly amazed by the parade of human…um…innovation. LAist, a daily online publication about life in L.A., shared a new election-themed site called–wait […]

Top 10 Wily, Wonderful, and Wicked Witches

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Starting with the biblical and ending with the bizarre, here’s my list of top 10 witches in pop culture: 1. The Witch of Endor. Star Wars fans are scratching their heads at this one, trying to figure out how witches […]

‘The Simpsons’ Spoof ‘Mad Men’ for Halloween

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

I don’t regularly watch the Simpsons anymore, but I wish I did. Especially during Halloween, a time when the rest of the airwaves are polluted with Halloween movie series, and there’s not a thing on TV that doesn’t involve ghosts, […]

Trump Tower to Temporary Tabernacle: Ivanka’s Conversion in Process

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

If Page Six is to be believed, Ivanka Trump and her boyfriend Jared Kushner have sought out noted Upper East Side rabbi Haskel Lookstein to perform Trump’s conversion. The report comes after a “spy” reported seeing Ivanka and Jared in […]

Nick, Norah and the Playlist Named ‘Jewish Identity’

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

I knew I wanted to see “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” even before it started getting rave reviews: first of all, Michael Cera, ’nuff said. Second of all, the “mix CD as love letter” is a favorite theme: music is […]

As Election Day Approaches, How to Start the Healing

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

This election process has been a vicious one: but you don’t have to be a racist, a sexist, or have a backwards “B” carved into your face to know that however it turns out when all the votes are counted, […]

Religious Jews Wig Out Over ‘The Palin’

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Not since “the Rachel” has a hairstyle been in such demand. Jewish bloggers have been writing about this for weeks. And politics always seems to spawn merchandising. Now the NY Post reports that in the past several weeks, a wig-shop […]

‘Religulous': Are Faith, Religion, Extremism All the Same?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

I’m not a Bill Maher fan, nor am I really one of his detractors. His demeanor has never appealed to me, but it has also not appalled me. He pushes envelopes, and I support that within my appreciation for free […]

It’s All ‘Material': Her Madgesty’s Marriage, Money, and Religion

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

As any Brit knows, in cases of English celebrity/superrich divorce, settlements tend to favor the less wealthy party. (Just ask Sir Paul McCartney.) Especially if there’s no prenup. Which is one of the reasons that the terms of the in-negotiations […]

Aqsa-Tube: Where Hamas, Other Terror Orgs Share Videos Online

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Americans know the fun of sharing videos like “Dramatic Hamster” and “Chocolate Rain” online with their friends. Many use YouTube. Then came GodTube and JewTube, for videos which were more religiously targeted. Now, there’s a new Tube in town–or at […]

Rabbi’s Son Spends a ‘Jesus Year’ in Bible Belt

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

People go to church to seek answers. But seldom are those people sons of rabbis looking for insight into their own Jewish heritage. All of that changes with My Jesus Year, a new book by Benyamin Cohen that also bears […]

Jewish Living Magazine Folds

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Rosh Hashanah marks the start of the new Jewish year, but this new year brought a tough break for Jewish Living Magazine. Touted a year ago as the Jewish answer to Martha Stewart Living, the glossy magazine hoped to compete […]

Israeli Army Tracking Draft-Dodgers…Via Facebook

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Israeli citizens have to serve in the army. If they’re religious, and being in the army would represent an undue hardship or challenge their faith, the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) permit them to do an alternate service program, which many […]

Rosh Hashanah Virals for 5769

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

With every Rosh Hashanah season comes a surge of short video content designed as electronic greetings for the new year. For instance, last year saw the emergence of Rosh Hashanah Girl, in which singer Michelle Citrin and creative partner William […]

Why Were Bristol and Jamie Lynn Treated So Differently?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Celebrity, whether in the political or entertainment sphere, usually means relinquishing control over the message of who you are and what you’re about. Members of the media smell a story and run with it, sometimes despite the truth of the […]

Clay, Lindsay, Ellen, Lance, and Brad: The Week in Gay News

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

With Lindsay Lohan officially announcing that she’s been dating Samantha Ronson for “a very long time” and Clay Aiken (finally) coming out in his most recent feature story in People, it might be time to look at the week in […]

Miley and Billy Ray to Say ‘Hasta Manana” to Hannah Montana?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Miley Cyrus and father Billy Ray Cyrus have apparently expressed a desire to exit the Disney show that made Miley’s millions and redeemed her Achy Breaky Daddy from one-hit wonderland, TMZ recently learned. The popular entertainment gossip website broke the […]

Stephen Baldwin Promoting ‘Gossip Girl’? Not…

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

In ad campaigns for the drama’s current season, “Gossip Girl” has embraced its seamy side, using quotes from negative reviews as positives to attract viewers to the sex-ridden show. Now a new review, by actor and vocal Christian Stephen Baldwin, […]

‘Feeling the Force’ at Jedi University

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Fancy yourself a Jedi? In the UK, long the home of pioneering Jedi religious beliefs since Welsh brothers founded an official Jedi church last year, now finally there’s a Jedi course at Queen’s University, Belfast to teach you all those […]

Threats Against McCartney Because of Intended Israel Trip

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

So much for “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and “All We Need Is Love.” Such messages are apparently lost on “self-styled preacher of hate” Omar Bakri, who–according to the UK Daily Express–has threatened knighted Beatle Paul McCartney that “he will […]

‘90210’ Actress Now Woman of the Cloth

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Which ‘90210’ actress, now reprising her role in the new series, gives sermons on Sundays? While many of us might like the story that would result if the answer had been “Shannen Doherty,” the real answer is Ann Gillespie, who […]

Jon Voight and Adam Sandler to Attend Chabad Telethon

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

When you think Chabad, the religious Jewish outreach organization that creates Jewish community centers in various places all over the world, you probably think about one name…Jon Voight.You don’t? Well, you should, and you will, since Voight–a Catholic–has been working […]

Seeking Forgiveness in a PostSecret World

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

A few years ago, the PostSecret site took off, providing people with a central place for posting their own hidden truths and spy on the secrets of others. This public confessional was perfectly reflective of the technology-enabled, “tell-all generation.” The […]

Jewels of Elul Presents Dershowitz on Dreams, McCain on Hope, and Obama on…?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Elul is the Hebrew month that precedes Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and is traditionally treated as a pre-repentance period, during which Jews become aware, through special prayers and study, that the High Holidays are coming. Which makes it the […]

Madonna’s Latest ‘Like a Prayer’ Controversy

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Say what you want about Madonna, but you always know where you stand with her. For instance, whether you’re Hitler or John McCain, it doesn’t really matter to the controversial Madame Madge: if she goes on tour, you’re going in […]

Duchovny, Lohan, Clinton and Dre: The Weekend in Celebrity News

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Whenever I see a story of celebrity misdemeanors and odd behaviors, I have to wonder how I’d stand up to public and constant scrutiny. For instance, while using my blog to voice my disappointment with someone is entirely possible (although […]

CW: ‘Of Course We’ll Screen 90210 for Advertisers’

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Despite initial reports, the CW will offer a glimpse of the new ‘90210’ to potential advertisers: While the CW will not make promotional discs containing individual episodes (also known as “screeners”) of its teen drama available to critics or media […]

Parents Coucil Says ‘OMG’ to ‘90210’ Reboot

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Have New York’s Upper East Side rich kids set an impossibly high bar for titillation, or will their West Coast Beverly Hills-dwelling teen counterparts kick their six-packs and bikinis up a notch, making the new “90210” a real contender? When […]

From ‘Office’ Temp to Tarantino’s ‘Bastard’?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

As “The Office”‘s “Ryan the temp,” we loved him. (Although not as much or uncomfortably as Michael Scott did.) And when he was promoted to corporate, we watched as his confidence was revealed as insecurity. Now, the Hollywood Reporter learned […]

Closing the Ledger on Heath’s January Overdose

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Earlier this week, we blogged about Mary-Kate Olsen, and the fact that she might receive an immunity deal in exchange for her knowledge about the late Heath Ledger’s drug use. But today, federal prosecutors are officially dropping the investigation into […]

Christina Applegate Fights Breast Cancer

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Long an activist against breast cancer, Christina Applegate, 36, was recently diagnosed with the disease during a routine MRI. The cancer was discovered early, and doctors expect her to make a full recovery. Applegate, whose mother battled both breast and […]

Mary-Kate Olsen Demands Immunity for Heath Ledger Info

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

If you watch Law & Order, there’s a scene that you’re familiar with. The inadvertent accomplice in a crime is being interrogated by the detectives, and there’s a moment when they consider their options. Awareness flits across their faces, and […]

Recommitment Ceremony for Madge and Guy During ‘Shabbat of Consolation’

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

First a bit of Jewish education: Shabbat Nachamu, the “Sabbath of Consolation,” comes the weekend after the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av, a day of mourning and fasting commemorating the destruction of the Temple. There’s a special synagogue service that […]

Mel Tries to Play Matchmaker for Britney

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

All those hoping that Britney would trade in her Federline for a Gibson are likely to be disappointed, but that category probably only holds Gibson paterfamilias Mel, who tried to set up the troubled pop star with his son who […]

Shepherd’s Pre-Christian Life Included Abusive Relationships, Abortions

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Comedian turned “The View” host Sherri Shepherd has had some darkness in her past, including family involvement in drug addiction, and her experience having had casual sex and the resultant “more abortions than I would like to count.” She also […]

Alert the Wedding Crashers! Sacha Baron Cohen/Isla Fisher on Hold

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

True, the wedding had been planned for this summer. But this week a London tabloid reported that actor/comedian/rabble-rouser Sacha Baron Cohen and “Wedding Crashers” actress Isla Fisher are postponing their nuptials until Fisher has had a chance to learn more […]

“Shakespeare” Director Hunts Nazis in New Film

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

“Shakespeare in Love” director John Madden, is now chasing Nazis–or at least planning to helm a remake (or reinterpretation) of an Israeli film about Nazi hunting, called “The Debt.” The Miramax Films project is based on the 2007 Israeli feature […]

Kabbalah Counseling for Madge and Guy

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

[INT: evening] London, Ritchie/Ciccone Mansion, dinnertime. The family sits at the table. RITCHIE: Rocco, tell your mum to pass the salt. MADONNA: Lola, tell your father that we have an appointment to see Rabbi Berg today and he’d better be […]

The Chosen Dolls

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

When you think of Barbie, you think of unrealistic body proportions that create insecurity in girls and promote an unattainable and superficial beauty ideal. When you think of Bratz, you think of those enormous eyes, and a wardrobe that you’d […]

George Carlin: Remembering a Legend

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

There are many people who don’t get George Carlin. They think his routines are too misanthropic (“People are stupid”), too anti-religious (“Religion is bullsh*t”), or misogynistic (“rape can be funny”). Judge them from the titles alone, and you aren’t deriving […]

Heartthrob Update: Swayze, Gibson Back After Cancer Scare, Anti-Semitic Rants, Respectively

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

In classic roles in movies from the 90s, they seemed untouchably young, virile, and sane. Mel had the eyes and that amazing, charming, mischievous smile. But Patrick had the dancer’s bod, and was the kind of guy who’d dance with […]

Holy Hip-Hop! Pre-Sabbath Breakdancing in Jerusalem

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

The streets of Jerusalem have been known for centuries: from the stones that speak ancient rhymes to people from different religions as well as for its prophets and would-be prophets, its farmers-turned-kings, and shepherds-turned-leaders. And on Friday afternoon (on which […]

Mother’s Day for Jamie Lynn

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Jamie Lynn’s been under the radar as her belly’s been expanding with the promise of new life, staying out of the eye of stalkerazzi, so we don’t have to be subjected to photos of her scarfing down Arby’s. But according […]

6 Songs for Israel’s 60th

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

In a movie, whenever there’s a song associated with Israel or Jews, it’s automatically “Hava Nagila,” and I’m here to tell you it’s enough already. (It’s also enough with the Manischewitz jokes, but we’ll get to that at some future […]

Rocca and Gunn on Polygamist Fashion

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

When people think of Tim Gunn, they most often think of Project Runway, the popular reality TV show featuring aspiring designers in competition with each other to earn coveted spots with the fashion industry. On the other hand, when people […]

Top 5 Love Song ‘Couples’

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

There are a lot of love songs out there. Some of them I love, no matter what my romantic status. And others make you want to re-enact all those scenes you see in movies, when the protagonist looks at himself […]

Snipes to Don (Prison) Stripes?: 3-Year Sentence Possible

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Speaking of incarcerated celebs, yesterday TMZ reported that actor Wesley Snipes is going to jail.. In February, the “Blade” star was tried on eight charges–acquitted on five of them, he was convicted of three counts of willful failure to file […]

Having ‘The Talk’ With Teens: ‘Sexless in the City’ Author Shares Tips

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

But for the rarest of relationships, for any parent and child sitting down to talk about sex is uncomfortable on both ends. Maybe it’s supposed to be that way. But the talk has to happen or a child will get […]

Buckholtz’s and Chappelle’s Show: Laughter and Friendship Binds Men of Faith

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

A rabbi and a Muslim walk into a restaurant, garbed in a kippah and a skullcap, respectively. Both are religious educators, but this isn’t a formal summit on religious education in America–it’s a reunion between Charlie Buckholtz and Sedar Chappelle, […]

Jesus is My (Prison) Copilot: Foxy Brown on Coping With Incarceration

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Rapper Foxy Brown just finished serving time (8 months in Rikers) for smacking a Brooklyn neighbor with her BlackBerry. While that might not sound like a prisonworthy offense, it was a violation of her probation, which itself was the result […]

Shloime Goldstein, Meet Your Classmate…Cruz Beckham?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

David and Victoria Beckham are already not your typical L.A. couple. He’s insanely hot and talented and famous. She’s insanely skinny and talented (at being skinny and posh) and famous. (OK, so maybe that’s a bit typical. But wait, there’s […]

Unlit Candle: Awareness of Oppression During the Festival of Freedom

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Every year, Jews celebrate Passover, the Festival of Freedom, often using the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the holiday’s themes: oppression, freedom, and liberation. When I was growing up, our synagogues and schools urged us to remember the […]

‘Big Love’ in Real Life?: The Raid on the Compound

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

I’m a recently born fan of the HBO show “Big Love,” now in its third season, which focuses on a polygamous (they are very careful not to say “Mormon”) family in Utah. The twist is that the family–husband, three wives, […]

Pay-Per-View Funerals For Real? Or an April Fool?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

I’m pretty gullible, so for me the problem with April Fool’s Day is that I suspect everything with a date of April 1. Back in the days when I wrote memos, I would actually pre or post-date them so that […]

Bringing It On Differently: Introducing the Manatees

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

If you’re tired of the same cheerleader stereotypes–Jaime Pressly, Kirsten Dunst and Hayden Panettiere, I’m looking at you–then you’ll want to catch a ticket to see the Florida Marlins’ new cheerleading squad, the Manatees. If that doesn’t sound like the […]

‘Nothing a Good Leeching Wouldn’t Cure': Demi Gets Sucked

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Oh, celebrities! What won’t they do for beauty and youth? If they’re willing to inject their faces with botulism or get lipo’d during a lunch hour or wear red strings/study Kabbalah, why should anything as natural as a good leeching […]

Manhattan Marketing Mystery: Was American Apparel’s Billboard a Crime or Misdemeanor?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Mighty Aphrodite! About eleven months ago, denizens of New York’s Lower East Side were tickled and surprised to see an iconic image of Woody Allen (from the film “Annie Hall”) being used in an American Apparel ad. (Idol Chatter covered […]

Vegas, Baby: The Addiction That Happens Here…

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Having recently been on my first trip to Las Vegas, I was amazed by how people got sucked into the lifestyle. I don’t have a lot of money, so of course the idea of turning “not a lot” into “a […]

‘90210’ Redux? Rebooting the Series for Generation ‘Gossip Girl’

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Brenda and her “going to acting school in England.” Brandon and his sideburns/journalism career. Token Jew Andrea (pronounced “Ahndrea”) who bused over from another zip code so she could have a better education. The characters were ours, and the issues […]

Is Change the Only Constant? Pondering ‘New Amsterdam’

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

I admit, I was feeding a hunger for vampires when I initially tuned into “New Amsterdam,” which airs Mondays on FOX. I was hoping to find my new David Boreanaz in the series’ star, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, or at least my […]

Making ‘Miley’ Official

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

There’s a grand old tradition of changing your name in order to make it big. But usually the change is made to distance yourself from tradition or religious affiliation (I’m looking at you, Melvin Kaminsky!) or because there’s already another […]

Hasidic Actor Walks Off Portman Set

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

A talented beauty whose career has been eclectic and impressive even from her early years, Natalie Portman is the reigning Jewish princess of Hollywood (even unbesmirched by her Padme/Amidala years). As actresses go, she’s fairly modest, a good role model […]

Appropriate or Disrespectful? Esquire’s ‘The Last Days of Heath Ledger’

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

When I saw this article as a link in one of my daily media e-newsletters, I could barely believe the title. Was it that it was “too soon” for a fictionalized account of Heath Ledger’s final days, or was the […]

The Cult of Celebrity Disease

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

As we all know, representatives for Patrick Swayze recently announced that the “Dirty Dancing” actor has pancreatic cancer, but allayed the initial rumors that he has mere weeks to live. Now the New York Times is reporting that the actor’s […]

Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis Just Say No to Music Concert

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Before I start this entry, let me just say that Orthodox Jews are not against music. To the contrary, music figures prominently in liturgical recitations, holiday celebrations, and of course at bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings, and other family simchas (occasions of […]

Winehouse Enters Wine-Free House (That’s Rehab, Folks)

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

In the world of pop culture blogging and Google Image searching, you learn some valuable lessons. Firstly, there are way too many photos of Britney Spears on the internet. (And some of them are “not safe for work.”) But second […]

Another, Too Young: Rest in Peace, Heath Ledger, 28

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

First we lost Brad Renfro, and now the New York Times reports that actor Heath Ledger, critically lauded for his performance in the groundbreaking “Brokeback Mountain,” has been found dead in his SoHo apartment. Pills were found near his body, […]

And Idol Chatter Predicts It (sort of): Haysbert Endorses Obama

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

We don’t often gloat here at Idol Chatter. But last week we published a post by guest blogger John Brooks, who wrote about Obama as “America’s Second Black President,” second to David Palmer, who rose to Presidential power via the […]

New Cruise Video Stresses “Responsibility” and “No Vacation”

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Last night, I saw this video celebrating Tom Cruise’s role in promoting Scientology to the world, in commemoration of his winning of the Freedom Medal of Honor award (a church honor). I understand that they were playing on “Mission: Impossible” […]

Seeing Myself in “The Jewish-Americans”

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

It’s part heritage, part occupational hazard–but I have seen more than my fair share of documentaries about Jews. Many of them center on the Holocaust, or the post-Holocaust triumph and redemption earned through the creation of the state of Israel. […]

Britney’s Weekend: Post-“Standoff,” Flees Hospital, Rebuffs Dr. Phil

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Celebrities live in the glare of a harsh, unforgiving and unfair spotlight. But what the spotlight illuminates is often, ironically, the darker side of success, and exposes the inner workings of the human mind, which for all the exposure, are […]

Preparing to Get “Lost” Again: Six Easy Steps

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Now that it’s 2008, we can finally say that new episodes of “Lost” are imminent. And by “imminent,” we mean the end of the month. If you’re a fan, you were likely shocked (in a good way) by the season […]

Previous Posts

Exclusive Sneak Peek from Episode 9 of ‘A.D. The Bible Continues’ featuring Mark Burnett and Roma Downey
[jwvideo vid='BvyIgfYp' pid='GvkPWNBE'] In an exclusive sneak peek from a brand new episode of ‘A.D. The Bible Continues’ executive producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey share not only what we will see in this coming episode but also a ...

posted 2:46:09pm May. 29, 2015 | read full post »

Grand Canyon University’s Center for Worship Arts Releases First EP Album, Receives Rave Reviews
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZkS1rx_5Hk[/youtube] Grand Canyon University’s Center for Worship Arts has released “Canyon Worship”, its first extended play album, and it’s already climbing Christian music charts for good ...

posted 10:59:32am May. 29, 2015 | read full post »

Box Office Blockbuster...or Blunder?
The Wall Street Journal reports that this Memorial Day Weekend, normally a blockbuster box office weekend, is one that Hollywood may wish for a mulligan. Disney's "Tomorrowland" didn't bring out the numbers, as expected. Granted, there are ...

posted 11:39:02am May. 28, 2015 | read full post »

Letterman Bids Farewell Tonight
It's David Lettman's last episode interviewing, so what do you do? Well have his first guest, ever, Bill Murray pop out of a cake - of course! [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YW8MY9CD-tQ[/youtube] Murray appeared on the first late ...

posted 9:03:34am May. 20, 2015 | read full post »

Finding Neverland - On a Stage!
Calling all fans of Lost Boys!             You loved Finding Neverland with Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, right? The film about J.M. Barrie in 2004 is back - in the form of a Broadway ...

posted 12:53:47pm May. 19, 2015 | read full post »

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