Saturday, July 2nd 2022   |

Arts and Culture

Billy Crystal performs ‘Yiddish scat’ at the Tony Awards

By ANDREW LAPIN

(JTA) – “Ella Fitzgerald, wherever you are, I apologize in advance.”

Billy Crystal gave this year’s Tonys a jolt of Jewish shtick when he coaxed the audience into a call-and-response “Yiddish scat” routine, as part of a live performance to promote his Broadway musical, “Mr. Saturday Night.”

In a good-faith mockery of Fitzgerald’s own famous “scat” routine, Crystal, in character as his show’s fading comedian star Buddy...

Israeli heirs to the ‘Top Gun’ story sue Paramount Pictures for copyright infringement

By MADELINE FIXLER

(JTA) — The widow and son of the Israeli author whose 1983 magazine article inspired the original “Top Gun” film are suing Paramount Pictures for copyright infringement over the newly released sequel, “Top Gun: Maverick.”

A complaint filed in a Los Angeles federal court on Monday and shared by Variety argues that Paramount failed to reacquire the rights to Ehud Yonay’s California magazine piece after the rights...

Folk band Big Thief won’t play in member’s native Israel, days after defending concerts there

By GABE FRIEDMAN

(JTA) — Days after defending their decision to play in Tel Aviv, the hometown of their bass player, the indie folk rock band Big Thief canceled two scheduled Israel shows, writing that they “oppose the illegal occupation and the systematic oppression of the Palestinian people.”

Last week, the Grammy-nominated band had announced two shows at Tel Aviv’s Barby venue in July, and said that they would donate...

Before WWII, Jewish mobsters kept Nazis at bay in the US — with their fists

By HOWARD LOVY

(JTA) — The way author Michael Benson tells it, one day in 1938, New York judge and Jewish communal leader Nathan Perlman sat at a bar and thought, “How come these Nazis get to march down 86th Street, goose-stepping and ‘sieg heiling’ like it’s the Macy’s Parade? Why are they so brazen?”

It was because they were not worried about the consequences. Too few people in then-isolationist...

George Dansker announces Harold Rome lecture on 60th anniversary of ‘I Can Get It For You Wholesale’

George Dansker, a noted lecturer and musical theatre expert, who has held a Jewish Composer Lecture series at Touro Synagogue on Broadway luminaries for the past decade, is holding a lecture-concert on Friday, June 17, to usher in summer.

Dansker, whose events are typically held at Touro Synagogue in January, is selecting Harold Rome to be spotlighted and in particular to celebrate the Columbia Record release “I Can Get It...

The ‘queer, disabled’ Zionist who challenged the conventions of Israel’s founders

By ANDREW SILOW-CARROLL

(JTA) — It’s hard to find a poster promoting early 20th-century Zionism that doesn’t depict a tanned, chiseled man toting a shovel or a gun. The posters were visual reinforcement of the “Muscle Jewry” valued by Max Nordau and other early Zionist leaders, who felt the land would redeem a physically depleted Jewish people and the people would renew a neglected land. 

One early Zionist thinker defied...

A movie about how ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ became a movie

By ANDREW LAPIN

(JTA) — Despite his name, Norman Jewison, the director of the 1971 film adaptation of “Fiddler on the Roof,” is not Jewish.

The 95-year-old Jewison has often spoken about how, when asked to helm the movie version of the popular Broadway musical about an Old World shtetl, he felt the need to sheepishly inform the producers that he was a goy.

Less well known is that, following...

Joshua Cohen’s satirical novel ‘The Netanyahus’ wins Pulitzer Prize for fiction

By ANDREW SILOW-CARROLL

(JTA) — The 2022 Pulitzer Prize in fiction went to “The Netanyahus,” a scathing, satirical novel by Brooklyn writer Joshua Cohen that imagines a visit by the family of the former Israeli prime minister to an American college town in the early 1960s.

The prize committee called the novel “a mordant, linguistically deft historical novel about the ambiguities of the Jewish-American experience, presenting ideas and disputes as...

How Orna Guralnik went from the Israeli army to ‘Couples Therapy’ stardom

By SARA ROSEN

(JTA) — Since the Showtime docuseries “Couples Therapy” premiered, some might calls its psychologist star Orna Guralnik the world’s therapist. 

“I’ve become something,” she corrected, via Zoom. “I don’t know what to call it, but people write to me a lot, from all over the world.”

In the series, the Jewish Israeli-American psychoanalyst counsels real couples navigating many complex issues: infidelity, alcoholism, sexual and racial identities, and...

In PBS’ gripping series ‘Ridley Road,’ a Jewish woman infiltrates a group of British neo-Nazis

By ANDREW LAPIN

(JTA) – It sounds like it could be the story of Purim: A Jewish woman uses her sex appeal to enter the upper reaches of a group whose members are hell-bent on destroying the Jews. 

But instead of Esther with King Ahasuerus, imagine her becoming romantically involved with Haman himself — and instead of the Persian Empire, it’s the British Empire, circa 1962.

“Ridley Road,” a gripping...