Idol Chatter

Indie film star Catherine Keener–known for her character acting in such cinema favorites as “Capote,” “Being John Malkovich,” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”–was just interviewed for the New York Times Fall Fashion issue. In “Being Catherine Keener,” Keener spills all to interviewer Lynn Hirschberg about how Catholicism has influenced her film career, including her thoughts on how being an actor is like being a priest: “Playing so many characters in so many films is a way to be in the moment. That was, to me, growing up Catholic, the appeal of the clergy–they address the moment. So, short of being a priest, I am an actor.”

Other interesting tidbits from the piece:

I still love anything connected to nuns. That’s why I love all of Yohji Yamamoto’s designs–they look like a nun’s habit, and if I had my way, I’d always dress like a nun. As a girl, I saw every movie with nuns: “The Trouble With Angels,” “The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima.” I saw them all. I love the nun’s lifestyle: the quiet, the solitude. But then I realized they were subservient to priests, and I decided I wanted to be a priest. That’s when the trouble began. I desperately wanted to be an altar boy, and I stole a bag of unconsecrated wafers. They weren’t yet the body of Christ, but they were delicious. That was the first of my many run-ins with Catholic law.


How does Catholicism relate to show business?

Well, there is something about Catholicism that is both theatrical and pure, and movies can have that quality. There are other benefits to Catholicism: you grow up with a great sense of shame and hope and faith and naïveté.

And apparently, at least if you happen to be a girl, you grow up with creative ideas about how to be priestly without actually having to be a boy or an actual Catholic priest.

For 26 years, the ultra-luxe Cartier has been selling the “Love bracelet”–a gold bracelet that must be secured onto a lover’s wrist with a screwdriver. How romantic! Cartier’s Love bracelet was originally “inspired by medieval chastity belts,” explains New York Times reporter Sandra Ballentine in her article “Prisoner of Love” in the Women’s Fashion Fall 2006 magazine.

The signature bracelet, selling for a mere $2,975, has apparently been flying off shelves for decades now, and currently adorns the slight wrists of Hollywood starlets like Lindsay Lohan and Sofia Coppola. (Though who knows who holds the key–or screwdriver?–to their hearts?)

Ballentine reports of Cartier’s new plans for the contemporary chastity bracelet: “This October, in a nod to more conspicuous commitment, a $28,000 diamond-encrusted bangle version will be introduced.”

I suppose the idea is that the more you spend, the greater the likelihood of fidelity.

Though technically, the “chastity bracelet” does not discriminate according to gender, it still seems to be a gift mostly for the girl, of course. Perhaps it’s the upscale, celeb-style version of the ever-more-popular promise ring worn by so many Christian teen girls.

The USA Network’s series “The 4400“–about a group of 4,400 people, all of whom went missing at different points in the 20th century and return together bearing special powers, not having aged a day–is about to conclude its third season this Sunday at 9pm.

What makes it worth watching? The last several episodes have seen an interesting twist–Jordan Collier, a 4400 who was essentially the leader of the group worldwide and was assassinated at the end of the second season, is back from the dead! And not only is he back, he has long flowing hair, a beard, and, apparently, was roaming around for the year he was gone prophesying in such a way that he became known to followers as “The Preacher.” And if that isn’t enough Jesus-imagery for you, during last week’s episode, the talk of the town was “Jordan Colllier’s resurrection from the dead.” Oh, and not to forget the prophesy itself: “The war for the future will be fought in the past,” which he tells anyone who will listen.

The 4400 is a gripping show in general, but I have to admit, while the Jordan Collier return is interesting for the narrative arc of the show, the Jesus business they have going on is a bit much.

Interested enough to tune in? For your viewing benefit, the USA network is airing a 4400 Season Three marathon to catch viewers up, beginning at 11 a.m. and running until 9 p.m. Sunday, when they show the finale. It has already been picked up for a fourth season, so no worries about being left hanging.

How Jewish is Jackie Mason? “As a matzo ball,” says the comedian. “Or kosher salami.” So Jewish, that when Jews for Jesus published a pamphlet suggesting that Mason had accepted Jesus, he let loose with a $2 million lawsuit.

The pamphlet, also known as a broadside, which is still available (but hurry) on this website, features a cartoon image of Mason on the front, and asks, “Jackie Mason… A Jew for Jesus?” Inside, a lesson is built around Jackie Mason’s famously politically incorrect shtik about the differences between Gentiles and Jews, punning egregiously on the titles of the comedians Broadway shows. “There’s one thing [the commission of sin] where there’s no difference between Jews and Gentiles,” the copy reads, causing the cartoon Mason to exclaim, “No difference! There goes my whole show!”

Two million bucks seems a little bit of an overreaction to what appears to be, in the words of Jews for Jesus spokesperson Susan Perlman, “good-natured,” if not to well-written, fun. But anyone walking around Manhattan this summer knows Jews for Jesus proselytizers have been out in force, and it’s difficult to imagine a person more dependent on his Jewish identity for his livelihood than Jackie Mason, unless it’s Ehud Olmert, or a rabbi–which, for the record, Mason is. Ordained at 25 following four generations of tradition in his family, he also became a comedian, his website says, because “somebody in the family had to make a living.”