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Hitler Meant Well: Will Smith Speaks and We Wish He Didn’t

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Oy vey. Every time actors speak I find myself holding my breath and hoping that what they’ll say will resemble one of the moving, well-written speeches that they deliver during the roles they’ve taken on in their lifetime. As it […]

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Top Ten Films for Jews to Watch on Christmas

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

From an entertainment perspective, being a Jew during Christmas month is hard. While we get the “Adam Sandler Chanukah Song” for eight days over Hanukkah, during the rest of the month, the radio stations go Christmasy hardcore, with seven versions […]

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We Are Family: ‘National Treasure: Book of Secrets’

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

National Treasure (the First) should have been laughable–a blatant ripoff of various adventure flicks at TV shows that came before it. The first effort introduced us to Indy wannabe Ben Gates, a know-it-all adventurer with a long history of searching […]

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Knockedup-elodeon to Potentially Air “Sex and Love” Special

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

It looks like Nickelodeon may address Jamie Lynn’s pregnancy after all–if not on “Zoey 101,” Spears’ show, then during a special that addresses love and sex. A CNN report revealed that the network is speaking with Linda Ellerbee, a veteran […]

Spears Knocked Up…and This Time, It’s Not Britney

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Just when you think you’ve heard enough Spears pregnancy rumors for a given year (how many babies did Britney have this year? Five?), now we’ve got the previously-sane-seeming Nickelodeon star Jamie Lynn Spears in OK! Magazine addressing rumors about her […]

“Same Auld Lang Syne” Evokes Regret, Now Even More So

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Every year, there’s a holiday-time song that gets to me (even more than that Folgers commercial where the kid comes home to surprise his parents). It’s about life, loss, regret, and what happens when reality intrudes on your hopes and […]

Christmas is Canceled: Thus Spake Madonna

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

In case you haven’t heard, there’ll be no Christmas this year. At least not in the drafty English castle where Guy Ritchie and Madonna make their somewhat religiously confusing home. The adults are not exchanging presents, and the kids will […]

Chanukahchic: the Holiday’s Celebrity Panderers

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

I like a good celebrity interest story as much as the next person, but so much of celebrity news is–yes, I’ll say it–neither news nor terribly interesting. And now that Hanukkah’s over, I can rant a little bit about the […]

Pakistani Idol: Winner Becomes Prime Minister Candidate

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

In Pakistan’s version of American Idol, singing well is not a requirement. But being a potential candidate for Prime Minister is. “Enter the Prime Minister,” Pakistan’s first reality TV show of its kind, begins broadcasting this month. The show, a […]

Your Season’s Greetings: Too Generic, or Too Personal?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

‘Tis the season for season’s greetings, as winter-themed cards, family portraits and business announcements wing their way around the world to bring messages of peace and networking to all humankind. But are your greetings too generic? People don’t read cards […]

Amy Winehouse’s Mom’s Plea to Daughter

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

No one knows a daughter like her mother. And Amy Winehouse’s mom, Janis, is smart enough to already know about her daughter’s tattooed, belligerently drunk obstinacy. But she’s still worried, and has released to a local London paper a passionately […]

You’re An Old One, Mr. Grinch

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Happy 50th anniversary to everyone’s favorite green personification of the absence of Christmas spirit, The Grinch. And Grinchy’s got a new 50th-anniversary retrospective edition that contains the tale of the Grinch and all the Whos down in Who-ville, with an […]

Italian Priest Bans Red Bull Ad Featuring Fourth Wise Man

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Wait a minute…the fourth wise man? I may be Jewish, but I’m pretty sure (mostly from Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”, and more recently from “The Nativity”) that the account of the magi visiting baby Jesus only has three wise […]

Could “Vacation” Be a Foreign Oscar Contender?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

You may not have heard about “The Year My Parents Went on Vacation” yet, but you likely will. The film, which is billed as being in Portuguese, Yiddish and Hebrew (a bit of a misnomer since the Hebrew is all […]

Follow the Brick Road to Central City: ‘Tinman’ Revisits the Classic

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Dateline: Kansas. DG lives with her family on a farm, wears a pinafore-style apron as her work uniform, wears her hair in ponytails and rides her (motor) bike. And there’s a storm coming. And that storm, in addition to being […]

Jews in Sports Vs. Jews In Sports

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

This summer marked the opening season of the Israel Baseball League. It opened to some controversy, because the sport’s pretty American; in Israel, they play “football”, of course, and some basketball. But baseball? Could the society support a new sport […]

Diamond’s ‘Caroline’ is a Kennedy? Sweet…

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Now a staple at karaoke bars, Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” has been plaguing–oops, I meant “entertaining”–music fans for years. Forty years, actually. (Which is how long the Jews wandered, post-Egypt, in the desert before reaching the Holy Land. But I […]

Celebreality Gets Fired: Celebrity Apprentices in the Boardroom

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

When you think of the world of business, you can’t help but think of Donald Trump and his show “The Apprentice,” which, as the show’s theme song tells you, was all about “money money money…money!” The idea was that people […]

Mideast Music Roundup: The Rhythm of Conflict

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Israel is turning 60 next summer, and along with all of its beauty and religious resonance, it has also become known as a place of conflict, of heavy headlines, and unfortunately more than occasional violence. But apparently, within popular culture […]

Pop Culture Angels: A Less Literal Definition

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

In writing up a comment to a previous challenge by my colleague Michael Kress that IC readers tell us about our favorite on-screen angels, I started thinking about Clarence, from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and ended up with my favorite […]

Garbage In, Garbage Out? What Your TV Habit Says About You

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

In Entertainment Weekly, in a post titled “You Are What You Watch,” writer Gretchen Hansen related an anecdote: She’d been sitting on a train next to a man watching a slasher film, who said he loved that film, that it […]

‘Hindi Bindi Club': Indian Family Ties in the New World

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

For a group of three mothers who left India to start life anew, living in the new world brings new experiences and presents new challenges. Their daughters, Kiran, Preity, and Rani, call their mothers “The Hindi Bindi Club,” also the […]

When a Wand is More Than Just a Wand: Rowling Outs Dumbledore

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Yes, we were tired of the news being “the Britney Channel.” But over the weekend, a new kind of celebrity non-news hit, with the outing of a Harry Potter character. In case you haven’t been paying attention, here’s the recap: […]

Paltrow and Coulter…Soul Sisters?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Nobody’s perfect. Especially not Jews, according to Ann Coulter. But that news is SO last week. This week, the hate is on Gwyneth Paltrow for her comments about the character she plays in “The Good Night,” the new movie directed […]

Carell’s ‘Real Life’ Goes Back to the Basics

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

I have to admit that I go into any Steve Carell movie just happy to be there (a theory I am not testing with “Evan Almighty”–why mess with the perfect track record in my head?). Carell’s most recent effort, “Dan […]

‘Unfit’ Brit Gets Hit One More Time (By a Court Order)

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Oops, she did it again. No visitation. That’s none. Not supervised, and certainly not unsupervised. According to the latest news in the Huffington Post, Britney gets no visitations with her children until she complies with a court order. The parameters […]

What Reese and Ryan Can Teach Us About Divorce

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Celebrity divorces: they’re seldom pleasant. As we’ve seen, there’s name-calling, slander, lawsuits, and fighting over custody. (Actually, that does sound a lot like most non-celebrity divorces as well: just without coverage in the Enquirer.) When we see a couple that […]

Video Interlude: SoCalled’s “You Are Never Alone”

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

It’s as riveting as it is deeply weird. It borrows musically and thematically from just about everywhere–from cowboys to klezmer to 80s Peter Gabriel videos. It’s been viewed over 754,000 times since it debuted this past weekend. It’s been “favorited” […]

“Refuge Rock Sublime”: Mare Winningham Sings the Jews

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Children of the John Hughes generation know Mare Winningham as the earnest-faced innocent from St. Elmo’s Fire (cue David Foster’s evocative love theme); or as Meredith Grey’s doomed stepmother on Grey’s Anatomy. (Oops, I guess that was a spoiler. Sorry. […]

Brad Pitt on Faith and Family

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

In contemplating Brad Pitt, people often focus on the external; from his big screen debut in “Thelma and Louise” to some of his more current projects, we view him as a thing of beauty. Which he undoubtedly is, partly because […]

“Knocked Up”‘s Missing Abortion Debate Revisited

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

When “Knocked Up” took America by storm, many people (Idol Chatterers among them) wondered, in a movie about a pregnancy which resulted from a one-night stand outside of marriage, where was the abortion discussion? Ellen, who blogged this originally, found […]

Jewish History Barbie

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

You might not know it to look at her, but the ultimate blonde beauty, Barbie, is Jewish. And despite the “blonde jokes” that might plague her, Barbie’s actually got a lot to teach us about Jewish history and identity. This […]

Jesus Loves GodTube, Apparently

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Pop quiz, Idol Chatter hotshots: What was the fastest growing website in the U.S. last month? Gotta be YouTube, right? No? How about Facebook? Nope. (MyUrbanKvetch? I wish.) Try again, and try thinking God.According to comScore Media Matrix (via Mashable), […]

Owen Wilson: Celebrity Hospitalization and Speculation

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Owen Wilson, star of “The Wedding Crashers” as well as every Ben Stiller movie ever created and bona fide member of what some have dubbed “The Frat Pack,” was rushed to the hospital via ambulance on Sunday. The Star and […]

Top Five TV Shows I Love and Hate

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

We all have those television shows which serve us as utter escapism, which help us transcend our bodies and our daily lives. Often they even become true guilty pleasures worthy of repentance–that’s how guilty and self-indulgent they are. But some […]

‘Californication,’ Sex vs. Family Life

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

In case the name wasn’t a big enough tip-off, the opening of “Californication” (debuting tonight at 10:30 p.m. on Showtime)–with a most unholy visit to a church (cue the cigarette in the holy water and the hot nun) while the […]

‘Arctic Tale’ is ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ for Kids

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Before we get started, let’s clear up some misconceptions: Arctic Tale is not the sequel to “An American Tail,” so don’t look for an appearance by Feivel Mousekewitz. And it’s not about penguin migration as narrated by Morgan Freeman. Instead, […]

Premonition: New on DVD

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Call it my devotion to the peculiar, but I think there’s something about a non-linear film. It challenges you to pay attention more closely–to look for clues at every turn. From Pulp Fiction to Memento, these flicks are about more […]

Homer vs. Pagans

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

In a field north of Dorchester in Dorset, Britain is a chalk drawing known as the Cerne Abbas giant–a fertility symbol with a giant phallus. As it is said in the reliable book of Wikipedia, “For hundreds of years it […]

Meet Jewperhero!

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Flight? Heat vision? The ability to shoot spiderwebs out of your wrists? And then there are the myriad accessories, gadgets and cool rides that go along with being a superhero: […]

Is ‘Knocked Up’ Really ‘Munich’ed’ Up?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Who really “knocked up” Katherine Heigl’s character in the film of the same name? Was it co-star Seth Rogen’s character? Or was it really a film character crossover from Steven Spielberg’s controversial film “Munich”?If you’ve seen the film, you know […]

Sexing Up the Holy Land

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Israel has a difficult relationship with American culture. On the one hand, Israel creates its own culture and doesn’t want to be an America’s clone. And then there’s the other hand, the celeb-obsessed, hypersexualized American pop culture-consuming hand that resents […]

Woody Allen is Our Homeboy

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

I’ve been really amazed by how prevalent Jewish expression seems to be in popular culture these days. Of course, I live in New York so Jewish visibility is likely to be high. I was slightly incredulous when that Gap ad […]

Rabbi Radio is Now Online

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

A few months ago, Idol Chatter brought you the news that Beliefnet contributer Rabbi Irwin Kula, president of CLAL–The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, and an oft-sought voice on public culture and religion in the public square, was […]

And a Muppet Shall Lead Them

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Politicians? Diplomats? World leaders? Does anyone know what to do with the Middle East conflict? It seems to be the consensus that children in the region learn from their parents and the society that surrounds them–and those messages are hard […]

Do Celebrities Celebrate Religious Holidays?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

“We’re always looking for a seder. This year we [she and husband Matthew Broderick] drove four and a half hours to go to a Rosh Hashanah dinner.”– Actress Sarah Jessica Parker, quoted in “Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About […]

Debbie Gibson’s Mom is Your Manager? That Takes ‘Chutzpah’!

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Diane Gibson–the “powerhouse manager at GMI Entertainment who crafted a musical career for her daughter Debbie (now Deborah)–has signed on to manage Chutzpah, the “Jewish Hip-Hop Supergroup” that’s experiencing some success in this early stage of their career, or as […]

Roseanne’s Jewish Roots

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

She’s changed her name and image more times than Prince or John Mellencamp. Her successful standup career was followed by a popular sitcom, which gave early screen credits to writers like Buffy’s Joss Whedon, SNL’s Norm MacDonald, and the Gilmore […]

Play it Again Sam(aritan)

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

When it comes to music, ethnic is in. From mainstream pop artists like Christina Aguilera, Shakira, and J.Lo singing in their native languages, to Madonna sampling a Hebrew song on her “Confessions on a Dancefloor” album, using foreign languages in […]

Give (Music About) War a Chance

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Every year the Eurovision song contest pits countries against each other in an international battle of the bands, which CNN describes as “a 50-year-old pan-European institution renowned less for serious music than for unbridled kitsch and terrible costumes but which […]

West Bank Story: Love, Politics, and Hummus

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

The opening number sets the scene for the rest of the film: There’s the turmoil of rival gangs coupled with a nascent love story that will either unite the warring factions or cause a violent rift. But because this musical […]

Putting the “Cross” in Crossover

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Relient K is a Christian band. Like Switchfoot, they have managed a tricky crossover from the Christian market into the mainstream. But according to a Monsters and Critics interview, their lead vocalist/songwriter Matt Thiessen doesn’t enjoy the segregation. “We view […]

Forget the Tomb: Find Your Own Personal Jesus

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

If you’ve been reading or watching the news this week, you’ve likely heard about James Cameron’s press conference about his latest project: the supposed unearthing of Jesus’ crypt. What’s that? Isn’t it the Christian tradition that Jesus was resurrected? Well, […]

Has ‘Lost’ Lost It?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

I’ll admit it, I was initially resistant to the charms of “Lost.” A plane gets ripped in half mid-air and crashes? Undiagnosed vertigo and living in New York City post-9/11 are enough to make that one of my top-10 fears–no […]

Is Britney Putting the Jew in Jewelry?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

I hate to say I told you so. But way back when Madonna was embracing Kabbalah and taking my name as her own, I knew instinctively that Britney–who would have been a Wannabe, had she been a teenager in the […]

Letters from the Queen: Sunshine Departed from Babel

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Oscar noms are in, and in the Best Picture category, the big winner is… the concept of being an outsider. Outside your comfort zone, undercover in a dangerous environment, out of place, or in literal exile, these films illustrate that […]

Playing at “Shivah”

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Think of video games. If you’re of a certain age, it’s Pac Man and Donkey Kong. If you’re younger, maybe you think of Grand Theft Auto or The Fast and the Furious. Religious Christians who have faith in the Rapture […]

A Very Kosher Comedy Christmas

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

December 25 may be the day that all Christian boys and girls wait all year for, but for Jews, celebrating Christmas often takes a different approach, which often includes some or all of the following elements: 1) Stand-up comedy, featuring […]

‘The Painted Veil': Class and Romance in the Time of Cholera

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

In this post-“Sex and the City” era, people dissect relationships a lot. There’s so much to navigate that some daters might wish they had been born in an era when there wasn’t so much choice–a time when a man saw […]

Bush’s So-Called Elementary School Life

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Life in elementary school is hard. Even if you’ve got Lil’ Condi Rice to do your homework, Lil’ Dickie Cheney to growl at your enemy cafeteria workers who are trying out a multicultural menu, and parents who live in the […]

Two Rabbis on the Radio

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Ever dreamed of spending Saturday night with two rabbis? Who hasn’t? Rabbi Irwin Kula and Rabbi Brad Hirschfield of the National Center for Jewish Learning and Leadership are launching “Intelligent Talk Radio,” in Portland, Oregon this week The rabbis will […]

Kula Uncovers “Hidden Wisdom” in New TV Special

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

In the beginning, there was TLC’s Shalom in the Home, starring well-known rabbi Shmuley Boteach. Now, prepare for television to bring another rabbi into your home–in this case, Rabbi Irwin Kula, whose new national public television special, “The Hidden Wisdom […]

“The Ten Commandments”: The Abtastic Val Kilmer Musical!

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

When facing a movie like “The Ten Commandments: The Musical“–based on a recent stage production and set for DVD release this week–I always approach it from two angles: (1) Is the product a good/entertaining one?; and (2) Is it true […]

Borat: Where Do I Begin?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

I guess every discussion of Borat–the character brought to life by Jewish comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and the film featuring that character–has to begin with that pivotal moment in country-western anti-Semitism, “Throw the Jew Down the Well.” We could discuss, […]

‘Jewface’ and the Search for Jewish Connection

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

People who find Borat or Jewtopia offensive are also likely to rail against the new release from Reboot Stereophonic Records for its title alone. “Jewface,” like other neo-cultural Jewish efforts, is named to provoke even before anyone actually listens to […]

A Yeshiva Girl’s First Halloween

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Everyone remembers his or her first time trick-or-treating, getting candy from strangers, and wearing costumes. I know I remember my first time. Mostly because I was 18. Growing up in suburban New Jersey, I always knew what Halloween was: It […]

Is That Anti-Semitic Kazakh Journalist Speaking Hebrew?

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Last year, a sketch character called Borat sang a song advising the world to throw the Jews down the well so his country could be free, and in the process he managed to convince the patrons in a country-western bar […]

Esther on Esther: “One Night With the King”

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Say the words “biblical epic,” and certain things come to mind. Charlton Heston, Cecil B. Demille, Yul Brynner. Heavy makeup, especially eyeliner. English accents, for sure. Grandiose sets, costumes, and plot points, at the expense of biblical accuracy. Long speeches […]

Everyone Loves a Jewish Boy (Or Do They?)

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

Are Jewish men attractive? TV doesn’t seem to think so. Sure, Ross Geller certainly had his moment in the sun, as did Paul Buchman before him. (And any Jewess would be out of her mind to refuse to “hug it […]

Previous Posts

Academy Award Nominated Film Unbroken Releases on DVD
The highly acclaimed film Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie that tells the inspirational story of Louis Zamperini hits DVD on March 24, 2015. At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Louis Zamperini won a personal meeting with Adolf Hitler, who complimented his fast finish. In 1941, Zamperini enlisted in

posted 9:19:32am Mar. 23, 2015 | read full post »

Self/Less: 'God Created Man, Man Created Immortality'
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71fWtJXEI0Q What would it really feel like to feel immortal and you know longer had to worry about failing health? Phoenix Biogenic offers this once in a lifetime offer where the new body will be genetically mastered to perfection. Only a select few are chosen to

posted 10:57:15am Mar. 13, 2015 | read full post »

The New Trailer for CW’s ‘The Messengers’ Is Here, And It’s Like Nothing You’ve Ever Seen
[youtube]https://youtu.be/61AfGNlXf9M [/youtube] CW’s “The Messengers”, starring Diogo Morgado from the hit series “Son of God”, centers around five individuals who die as a result of an earthly phenomenon. When they return to earth as Angels with unique abilities, they must band together

posted 11:13:54am Mar. 12, 2015 | read full post »

Open Letters to Oscar Night Standouts
The following is a guest post from one of our Entertainment contributors, Malayna Dawn. Enjoy! Dear John Travolta: We know you are multi-talented and have played many characters, but lately it seems like you may be having trouble expressing your true self – at least in ways that the public ca

posted 10:46:28am Mar. 04, 2015 | read full post »

We Bid Farewell to Leonard Nimoy
Friday, February 27th Leonard Nimoy, famously known for his role as Spock in the infamous Star Trek series, passed away at the age of 83. His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, confirmed his death, stating that the cause was the end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Nimoy publicly announced last

posted 2:25:26pm Feb. 27, 2015 | read full post »

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