Saturday, October 31st 2020   |

Arts and Culture

Natalie Portman’s debut children’s book makes 3 classic tales ‘gender-safe’

(JTA) — Actress, director and Academy Award winner Natalie Portman can add another title to her resume: children’s book author.

The Israeli-American movie star rewrote three classic children’s stories — “The Tortoise and the Hare,” “The Three Little Pigs” and “Country Mouse and City Mouse” — to be more “gender-safe,” in her words, with fewer male pronouns and more gender diversity.

She wrote about the thinking behind the project in...

‘Schitt’s Creek’ sweeps the 2020 Emmys and makes history


(JTA) — “Schitt’s Creek,” the show co-created by the father-and-son duo Eugene and Dan Levy, swept the Emmy Awards on Sunday night.

The beloved series won every comedy category for its sixth and final season, and the younger Levy alone won four awards.

This year’s Emmys ceremony was broadcast live, but from nearly 100 streams in different locations across the country. Yet in the first hour of the...

Sacha Baron Cohen announces Instagram freeze to protest Facebook’s failure to fight hate

(JTA) — Actor and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen said he will not post to his Instagram account on Wednesday in protest of parent company Facebook’s failure to fight hate.

Cohen made the announcement in support of the Week of Action organized by the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which was spearheaded over the summer by the Anti-Defamation League, NAACP and several other civil rights groups. The groups are protesting Facebook’s unwillingness...

Quirky ‘Nita & Zita’ finds a new online home


A theatre reviewer in a pandemic? Sounds crazy, no? But here in New Orleans with no shows to see, I’ve become more than that. I’ve assumed new roles as a director, a stage manager and in the grand tradition of Bialystock and Bloom, a producer.

How all of this intersected with the story of two long-dead, reclusive New Orleans Jewish sisters is an even more incredible tale....

WYES to air TV special on ‘Shanghailanders’ beginning Sept. 8

“Harbor from the Holocaust” shares the story of 20,000 Jewish refugees who fled Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II to the city of Shanghai.

A production of WQED, the one-hour film explores the extraordinary relationship the refugees, known as “Shanghailanders,” had with their adopted city through the bitter years of the Japanese occupation from 1937 to 1945 and the bitter Chinese civil war that followed....

The real history behind Seth Rogen’s ‘An American Pickle’


(JTA) — Seth Rogen’s “An American Pickle” is one of the most Jewish Hollywood films ever.

In it, Rogen plays two Jewish family members separated by a century: Ben Greenbaum, a young app developer who lives in Brooklyn, and Herschel Greenbaum, his great-grandfather from the old country who falls into a vat of pickles and stays perfectly preserved in brine for 100 years. Call it a pickle...

‘Dirty Dancing’ sequel starring Jennifer Grey announced

(JTA) — It’s official: A “Dirty Dancing” sequel is coming, and it’s starring Jewish actress Jennifer Grey, who played Frances “Baby” Houseman in the 1987 original.

Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer confirmed the news to Deadline on Thursday, while keeping the plot secret.

“It will be exactly the kind of romantic, nostalgic movie that the franchise’s fans have been waiting for and that have made it the biggest-selling library title in...

YouTube removes rapper Wiley’s channel over ‘repeated violations’

(JTA) — YouTube is the latest media platform to remove Wiley over what it termed the British rapper’s “repeated violations.”

The decision to remove his channel comes after pressure by groups in the United Kingdom, including the Campaign Against Antisemitism.

Wiley was removed late last month from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram following a series of tweets widely regarded as anti-Semitic and other social media posts.

Last week YouTube, which is...

‘Harry Potter’ star Jason Isaacs opens up about his struggle with addiction

(JTA) — British Jewish actor Jason Isaacs opened up about his longtime struggle with drug addiction to the British magazine The Big Issue on Monday, saying he first got drunk at age 12 and “by the age of 16 I’d already passed through drink and was getting started on a decades long love affair with drugs.”

“Every action was filtered through a burning need I had for being as far from a...

Confused about Judaism’s view on the afterlife? Start by watching ‘The Good Place.’


(JTA) — The afterlife is not a major point of discussion in Jewish thought. Religious Jewish texts focus on the life one leads in this world — not the next one.

As Rabbi Hertzel Fishman, for example, has observed: “Mitzvot [commandments] are not magic, they do not help God nor do they earn us rewards, but they are valuable for the way in which they improve our...