Follow Kveller

You are browsing the archive for jewish celebs.

Dec 18 2014

Gwyneth Paltrow Made a ‘Secret’ Appearance at the White House Hanukkah Party

By at 3:45 pm

Gwyneth Paltrow Made a 'Secret' Appearance at the White House Hanukkah Party

So this is interesting. According to the Washington Post, actress and lifestyle mogul Gwyneth Paltrow was spotted at the White House’s Hanukkah reception last night. However, she didn’t really want anyone to know about it, considering her assistant physically blocked people from taking photos (or at least tried to). Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 23 2012

Sacha Baron Cohen Banned, and Other Pre-Oscar Drama

By at 3:32 pm

Lo and behold, the Oscars are this Sunday, and even before anyone has hit the red carpet, the drama has already begun.

Word has it that Jewish dad/famous actor Sacha Baron Cohen has been BANNED from attending. Even though Cohen is a member of the Academy and had a starring role in Hugo, one of the Best Picture Nominees, his tendency for red carpet “shenanigans” has warranted him a pretty serious threat from the Academy: “Unless they’re assured that nothing entertaining is going to happen on the Red Carpet, the Academy is not admitting Sacha Baron Cohen to the show.”

Entertainment at the Oscars? God forbid! Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 28 2011

Jew-cy Celeb Gossip

By at 9:07 am

After the birth of my son I gave up my beloved subscription to US Weekly Magazine. Our glossy relationship ended in part because I felt like a voyeur contributing to blatant disrespect for individual privacy but MOSTLY because the piles of unread magazines lying around the house were giving me anxiety. I also unsubscribed to in my Google Reader when I opened it a few days after my son was born to find 489 unread feeds! I’m way too OCD to “mark all as read” but the posts, much like the trashy magazine pile, were making me want to snort Xanax.

To be honest, at first I really didn’t miss my little window into Hollywood. My husband claims reading that stuff makes people dumber (thanks hun!) and my (nonexistent) free time was spent eating, peeing, shaving one leg reading books about “how to get your child to eat mush off of a spoon” and googling images of pooh-consistency to check for baseline normal.  But a few months ago I emerged from my 24/7 baby-love-fest only to find out that Sheryl Crow adopted another baby and Christina Aguilera filed for divorce!?  And all of a sudden, I’m the last to know.

Thankfully, now Kveller satiates my cravings for Jew-cy celeb gossip with a side of non-secular parenting advice. It’s like dinner and dessert with one click. Not to brag, but the highlight of my week was a 2-reply Facebook convo with Mayim Bailik about how we both like to sit around the house all day topless in the days and weeks postpartum. I mean we’re not exactly buying BFF necklaces (yet) but if she adopts a baby or two from China, I’m GOING TO KNOW ABOUT IT! I’ve even caught the Nat-Port-girl-crush-fever that’s spreading like wildfire over here.  I thought the Hebrew interview had me hooked and then I was browsing the Sesame Street website and there she is hanging with Elmo and rockin’ an elephant trunk! I’ve come to the conclusion that she is quite possibly the most adorable pregnant person EV-AH and this chick is going to be one awesome Mama ( dancing with a celebrity puppet is a pretty good start!)

I’m going to lay it out there and just say that I WANT MORE. I want to know why Idina Menzel decided to eat her placenta and how Isla Fisher likes to spend Shabbat. I’m curious to know if Adam Sandler can read the Passover cards his kids bring home from Hebrew school and if CoCo Arquette is dressing up for Purim. Where else in the World Wide Web can you plan a bris while reading about the Porsche Lisa Loeb bought for her daughter. Somehow, over here it’s less creepy stalker-ish and more like ‘checking in on family’ and somehow I get to be a (very, very tiny) part of it all! But don’t you worry; I haven’t let my celeb status go to my head just yet.  I’m still a full-time Mama and that’s always going to be my top priority – but now that my son has solid poops and takes two naps a day, don’t be surprised to see a photo of me having decaf peppermint tea at an open-air market with Blossom and Punky Brewster. We’re probably kvelling about the dress Natalie wore at baby Pierre’s bris.

p.s if you happen to see the picture in a magazine, please clip it for me. I don’t get those anymore .

Feb 16 2011

Interviews with Interesting Jews: Claude Brodesser-Akner

By at 12:34 pm

Claude Brodesser-Akner was raised in a Roman Catholic household, but when he met his wife-to-be, Taffy Akner, a few changes were undeniably coming his way. The story of his conversion to Orthodox Judaism, complete with a bris at age 33, was chronicled in his New York Times wedding announcement. Claude graciously took the time to answer some of our questions about his newfound Jewish life, and all the gritty details.

How many kids do you have and what are their names and ages?

I have two sons: Ezra Wolf Brodesser-Akner (3 years) and Haskel Fox Brodesser-Akner (7 mos.). And yes, when they’re old enough, each will be given a special, second steering wheel similar to those used on large fire trucks in order to get his full name around corners.

Are there any similarities between your Roman Catholic upbringing and your wife’s Orthodox Jewish upbringing?

Yes, and no: Aside from the obvious commonalities (both faiths share a heavy emphasis on ritual, have a separate liturgical language, and, yes, produce a surfeit of guilt), our experiences with religious life are totally divergent: I grew up in a strictly Roman Catholic house and parochial schools. But my wife–despite being sent to (and kicked out of)–some of the best yeshivot in Queens, cannot really be said to have had an “Orthodox” Jewish upbringing: She and her siblings grew up totally unaffiliated until she was 12 or so; and then, she can only be said to have “broken” with Orthodoxy inasmuch as her mother and sisters suddenly became religious and she elected not to go along for the ride.

By comparison, I broke with the Church many years before my conversion in 2006 not because of any ontological crisis of faith about whether there was a benign Creator, but over the way that the Church seemed unconscionably on the wrong side of history and morality on virtually every important topic: A woman’s right to choose, birth control, abstinence for clergy, its denial over a massive sex-abuse scandal, a belief in the infallibility of its Pontiff, etc.

Interestingly, we both now have the privilege of discovering Orthodox Judaism on our own terms, as free-thinking adults.

Many Jews are questioning whether circumcising their baby is fair, and propose waiting until the child is old enough to make the decision for himself. As a man who made that decision at age 33, would you recommend just getting it over with on day eight?

It’s funny, because it’s only now that I’ve become a parent myself that I can empathize with the position of some Jews who are reluctant to have their son circumcised. After my conversion (which did require a full-on circumcision by a mohel), I felt like the issue was a non-starter: We’re Jews; we do this. Period, end. But when you have a child, the idea of causing it pain produces a visceral reaction: “Please, don’t ask this of me!” But to be clear, I strongly recommend having the brit milah immediately, as is safely medically practicable. Here’s why: It’s not really just about the circumcision. Sure, the Torah issues the commandment to do so or else, but it also offers clear insight into why not doing so would be a bad thing for all concerned: It’s no accident that the ritual of Jewish circumcision is called a bris milah, (or a brit, if you’re an Israeli or speak Hebrew like one), as bris means “covenant”.

Like I was saying, the covenant is not really between the Creator and the circumcised Jewish child; it’s really between the Almighty and the parents and community of that circumcised child. In undertaking this ritual, we’re all saying, as Jews, “In a world that’s often callous and amoral, we’re different; we think different, and act different. And to show it, we’ve chosen to make our connection to godliness visible and indelible.” As painful as it might be in those few moments of and hours after, even more painful would be to reject a relationship with God.

How scared were you to meet your in-laws?

Claude's prize-winning Purim costume. Not pictured: white fishnets.

Terrified. We all met–me, my then-fiancée, her three sisters, their mother–at this kosher restaurant in midtown Manhattan called My Most Favorite Dessert. It was sheytl city, and I ordered a Grey Goose martini, up, with olives. My fiancée about died; ordering a drink before dinner?!? Only the most goyische thing one could do! My mother-in-law-to-be shot her a look that said, “Oh, I see: Not only a shaygetz, but an alcoholic shaygetz; bravo!” Still trying to warm her up at the end of the meal, I offered to split a slice a cheesecake with her, saying, “No one ever died from eating a little cheesecake.” To which she smiled wryly and said, “Really? I bet the graveyards are full of them.” That said, today, I am by far the favorite son-in-law, because I almost always call her on Friday afternoon to wish her a Good Shabbos. If you want the Godfather’s love and approval, you gotta kiss the ring, lads!

Are there any Jewish things that you find yourself doing with/for your kids that are surprisingly enjoyable (or awful)?

The other day, at Friday night dinner, my elder son, Ezra, who I think I said is just 3, asked to recite the blessing over the challah, and then nailed it. Admittedly, it’s a short one, but I was in nachas overload. So proud. Talk about a “kveller”; I was the uber-kveller: I was so overcome with pride, I could barely see or hear anymore: I was Helen Kveller!

Ok, one more circumcision question: on a scale of paper cut to bullet wound, how badly did it hurt? Would you do it again?

Again with my penis! What is it with you Jewish chicks?

Well, I’ve never been shot, thank God, but I have had a bottle of Miller High Life smashed over my head in a bar fight while a redneck held me in a headlock and ground it into my right ear, back when I was a bouncer in college (again: SO goyische!) and I’ve also gotten a compound wrist fracture from skateboarding (It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s..Supergoy!). The bris was certainly up there with both of those. As any boxing cornerman can tell you, head wounds tend to bleed a lot, but don’t hurt nearly as much. This didn’t bleed a lot, but it hurt like hellfire. Looking back, I would have made sure I had better drugs, definitely opiates. All I had was Tylenol.

On the second day, I was in so much pain, I went to see my doctor. When I told him what happened, he turned ashen faced and gave me about 30 tablets of Vicoprofen (hydrocodone and ibuprofen) and some Cipro on the spot. I was worried that it was infected, and that the pain-killer wasn’t strong enough. He said, “Trust me: I could sew up a dead possum in your chest, and it wouldn’t bother you all that much. Go home. Sleep.” My wife and I both took two tablets each. We sat on the sofa and watched The Newshour with Jim Lehrer on the TiVo. When the recording was over, the screen naturally froze. But we could only stare at it, uncomprehending. Finally, after about 10 unblinking minutes, I slurred to my wife, “Magic box has stopped,” and we went to sleep.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. But wait: I don’t actually have to do it again, do I? I mean, that’s not a thing in Judaism, is it? …is it?

Claude Brodesser-Akner is currently the West Coast Editor for New York magazine’s Vulture entertainment section. An award-winning media and entertainment journalist, he’s been covering industry since 1996, having worked as a reporter for Mediaweek, Variety, a bureau chief at Advertising Age and – don’t hold this against him – as one of the founding bloggers at TMZ. He also created and served five years as the host of the weekly public radio show “The Business” on KCRW, now hosted by Kim Masters. Claude lives in Los Angeles with his hot wife, Taffy, their two children, Ezra and Haskel, and the family goldfish, Bruce.

Dec 30 2010

Weekly Roundup: Portman Pregnant, Generation F, and Joint Custody

By at 3:35 pm

All the Jewish parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read.

-Let’s just get this out of the way. Natalie Portman is engaged. And pregnant! The 29-year-old acctress has already said that she wants to raise Jewish kids though her soon to be husband is a French dancer with nary a drop of Jewish blood that our Google fingers can detect.

-They’re calling us “F.” What the F? Our generation of Jews is now being dubbed  “Generation F.” The F here is for “fluid” and they’re referring to our Jewish identity. (The we here being Jews in our 30s who aren’t following exactly in our parents’ spiritual footsteps.) (Jewish Week)

-In Israel, when couple divorce, the mother automatically receives custody of children under age 6. Fathers can petition, but it’s rare that they actually win. A campaign by fathers is trying to challenge that law and as a result something called the Schnitt Commission was formed to investigate the issue. The commission has now issued a recommendation to the Knesset that the default arrangement should be changed so that parents have joint custody. (A Mother in Israel)

Dec 29 2010

Top 20 Most Stylish Jewish Mommies in History

By at 8:37 am

Jewish mothers don’t always get the best publicity. The nagging, take-a-sweater image has pretty much taken over Hollywood’s portrayal of the Jewish mom, but in real life, we know that’s just not the case. Here are 20 famous Jewish mamas that have proven not only to break the stereotypes, but to look awesome while doing it.

1. Bette Midler

From a clam shell bra to Academy Award nominations to spiffing up New York City Parks with her New York Restoration Project, this mom of one has continued to live up to her Divine Miss M moniker.

2. Sara Gilbert

She’s a proud lesbian with two kids, she’s smart and sassy, and is a child star who didn’t flame out and/or end up on a crappy reality show.  Now that’s stylish!

3. LeeLee Sobieski

From the time a talent scout spotted her in a school cafeteria, Sobieski has seemingly never stopped working.  From fame from Deep Impact to surviving an appearance in The Wicker Man, this mommy of one daughter has a teflon career and is totally hot.  She’s not 100% Jewish (paternal grandfather) but so what, I’m claiming her for the team.

4. Isla Fisher

This Aussie actress and writer has two children and a list of credits as long as her legs.  She converted to Judaism to wed writer/comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.   She has spoken out against the lack of opportunities for comediennes, which in my book is so cool that if she and Baron Cohen ever split, I’ll propose.

5. Mayim Bialik

She’s a child star who still acts, she’s got two boys and has a PhD in neuroscience. Oh and she turned down Harvard and Yale to stay near her parents. I know, you kind of want to hate her right?  This Kveller contributor is anti-TV but walks the walk — I heard she homeschools and doesn’t have a nanny.  How does she do it? Can she sneeze on me please?

6. Scarlett Johansson

She grew up without much money in New York City, is GQ’s woman of the year, does all sorts of charity works and was, until very recently,  married to People Magazine’s Sexiest Man 2010.  OK fine, she doesn’t have kids, so probably doesn’t count.  But come on — tick tock — she’s going to be on this list (along with Alicia Silverstone) in no time flat.

7. Jennifer Connelly

She gets on beautiful women lists nearly every day with a “y” in it, she has an Academy Award for her work in A Beautiful Mind and she’s got two boys.  This educated, big-eyebrowed momma is an example of how you can do it all.*  *If you are blessed with beauty and brains and are very lucky and don’t make any missteps.

8. Soleil Moon Frye

She may have had a kick-started career being born to an actor father and talent agent mother, but since she has proved herself to be way more than Punky Brewster, what with writing and directing and generally not being a crazy-actress type.  OK, she named her daughters Poet Rose Sienna and Jagger Joseph Blue, but if that’s the way she gets her freak on, fine.  She’s super cool in my book.

9. Lot’s Wife

I hear she had the best duds in Sodom and there’s no doubt she sure knew how to strike a pose.

10. Maggie Gyllenhaal

Do I really need to explain that someone this stylish is stylish? Nopers.  She was born to film producing and directing parents and then strapped those connections on her bodacious bod and jet-packed to fame.  She has one daughter.

11. Kate Hudson

Has a Golden Globe, and Academy Award nomination and a hot Hollywood pedigree.  She also has a son by Chris Robinson and had the sense to dump A-Rod.  Home run!

12. Edith Felber a/k/a Edith Layton

She was a mother of three with no publishing connections and went on to a vibrant career as a historical novelist.  Oh and she was my mom. But if you don’t believe she was a style icon, here’s proof.   FYI, the book My Mom the Style Icon by Piper Weiss will be released in 2011.

13. Amanda Peet

She’s got two daughters, an Ivy league education and an impressive stage and screen acting career.  She also had the guts to come out in favor of life-saving vaccinations for children, which in my opinion shouldn’t even be controversial, but is, thanks to fear and pseudo-science.

14. Keri Russell

She’s got a little boy, amazing looks (yes Felicity never should have cut her hair — get over it!) and a long-lived career that started with her dancing on the Mickey Mouse Club.

15. Tori Spelling

She’s got two kids, grew up so wealthy that her Dad made it snow in California and sure — questionable acting talents.  That said, she has stood the test of time, ignored the haters and she is stylish, like a real-life Princess Barbie. It’s not just the fag hag in me that says, “Tori, I salute you.”

16. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Two kids, married for 56 years and is on the Supreme Court. Bonus points for her trademark bun and staying slim even though her kickin’ bod is camouflaged in a big robe.  I’m convinced Wintour stole the whole owly glasses thing from the big RBG.

17. Lisa Bonet

Two kids, big fame in the 80’s with the Cosby Show and still working–not enough in my opinion, Hollywood!  She and former spouse Lenny Kravitz reportedly bonded on the one Jewish parent thing, and in my next life, I wanna look like her.

18. Rachel Dratch

She had her first kid this past August, and is a poster child for getting knocked up after 40.  She’s hella funny and back when I wrote fashion police crap for US Weekly I met Dratch in the bathroom at their holiday party.  She was charming, beautiful (she’s just unafraid to be ugly for laughs) and I never washed the hand that touched the stall door that she touched ever again.  OK that’s a lie.  But I love her long time.

19. Sarah Jessica Parker

How could she not be on this list?  She’s got three kids, a frackin’ amazing career and I swear, the woman is so fashion-conscious she sweats Chanel No. 5.  She’s beautiful, talented and anyone who says she looks equine is just jealous.

20. Katherine Graham

If you don’t know who she is, you should.  This mother of four took over the reigns of The Washington Post after her manic-depressive husband committed suicide. She was in charge of the paper during the Watergate scandal years and mixed it up with the most powerful people in the world.  Known for pearls, suits and perfect hair, she passed away in 2001 but her memoir earned a Pulitzer Prize so getting to know her isn’t so hard.

Dec 23 2010

Roundup: MTV gets kids to stop having sex (kinda) and Gwyenth Paltrow on Hanukkah

By at 12:36 pm

All the Jewish parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.

-In a shocking reversal, the teen birth rate actually took a dive this year. In fact, it reached the lowest point in the seven decades the statistics have been tracked. And who can we thank for this? MTV! Yes, the networks documentary series about pregnant girls, “16 and Pregnant” is credited with helping to kick start this trend. I guess having teenage girls see what it’s really like to have a baby–y’know, getting fat,  never sleeping, watching all your friends have fun while you’re stuck at home–is much more convincing than, say,  carrying an egg around school for a week. (CS Monitor)

-Gwyneth Paltrow is Jewish? Ok, that’s not the point. The point is that she and her husband Chris Martin celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas as do many celebrity couples. And that, my friend, is newsworthy? (Celebrity Baby Scoop)

-Modern family. What do you do when mom is Jewish, dad’s not, and mom remarries a Jewish guy? And then your kids celebrate Hanukkah with you, Christmas with dad, but you still want Santa to visit them at your house? Sound like your situation? (NY Times)

Nov 16 2010

The Kid-Dish: Gene Simmons is a Mensch, Jeffrey Tambor is Old

By at 12:50 pm

All the Jewish celebrity parent gossip you (n)ever wanted to know

- Spotted above are Jerry Seinfeld and his sons Julian, 7 1/2, and Shepherd, 5, taking a walk to school in NYC. What’s the deal with… sneakers? Sorry, sort of grasping at straws since there’s nothing too obvious to make fun of here. Cute kids. (Celebrity Baby Scoop)

- Jeffrey Tambor, former Arrested Development star and father to four kids under the age of 5 at a whopping 66-years-old, opens up about being, well, an old dad. He seems to have a good sense of humor about people mistaking him for his kids’ grandfather all the time, and when asked how his age affects his parenting, he says, “It limits the amount of time on my knees.” (Babble)

- Did you know Ricki Lake lost her home in a fire? Well, it was only her rented Malibu home, which I assume is one of several, but still, she was there with her sons Milo, 13, and Owen, 9, and that’s quite the scare. Speaking about it as a guest on Oprah, she hoped that her children will learn from the experience that beach homes may come and go, but family is everything. (Celebrity Baby Scoop)

- We’ve all been thinking it, but Debra Nussbaum Cohen has said it: Gene Simmons is the Jewish Husband of the Year. This post is definitely worth reading for the educational value (did you know Simmons’ birth name is Chaim Witz!?!) and Cohen actually makes the KISS rocker, his playmate girlfriend, and their two children seem like quite the touching Jewish family. (The Sisterhood)

Oct 26 2010

Adam Sandler Kvelling with Elmo

By at 12:13 pm

My 16 month-old daughter has recently become utterly obsessed with Sesame Street characters. Her grandparents got her a few puppets and turned on the TV one day and now I’m stuck with a toddler who can say Elmo, Cookie, Big Bird, Bert, and Ernie (though somehow that one comes out Noo-Noo). And asks for them daily. Almost hourly.

Luckily for me (and all of you), Sesame Street is really smart. Their website not only has an incredible amount of videos, but they even divide these videos by character. So when Abigail wants to watch Elmo, I head over to the section of the site where Elmo interviews celebrities so that I can be entertained too. Which is where I discovered this clip—Adam Sandler sings a song to Elmo, but he can’t find much to rhyme with “Elmo.” So he makes up words—and at minute 1:49, one of those words is–well, you’ll just have to watch and see.

Let’s just say, I’m kvelling-mo right now.

Oct 5 2010

The Kid-Dish: Rachel Zoe, Skinny and Pregnant

By at 12:48 pm

All the Jewish celebrity parent gossip you (n)ever wanted to know

– Did you guys know actress Amanda Peet is Jewish? Jewish mother, Quaker father–who would have thought? Here she is with 3 1/2-year old Frankie, which is maybe the cutest name ever, besides Peet’s  5-month old daughter Molly (a personal favorite of mine.) (Babyrazzi)

– Daws–I mean James Van Der Beek–who married Kimberly Brook at a Kaballah Center in the holy land this August, just became a first-time father to Olivia on Saturday. The birth was announced to the world as all important milestones should be announced: with a tweet! I mean really, he tweeted his wedding announcement, too. (People)

– Hollywood stylist-to-the-stars Rachel Zoe is three months pregnant with her first child. Most people are concerned about how her crazy skinny figure will hold a child, but I’m more worried about how the sentence, “OK! reveals that the 39-year-old has only shared the happy news with those close to her,” makes any sense when posted on the internet. (Celebrity Baby Scoop)

– Actor Liev Schreiber was spotted with his 3-year old son Sasha in New York City on Saturday. Then the lucky duck got to hang out with DJ Lance Rock at the Yo Gabba Gabba! concert on Sunday at Radio City Music Hall. Celebrity kids get all the fun. (Celebrity Baby Scoop & Star)


Recently on Mayim