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SJ Super 7

by: Leslie Bunder and Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2004-11-29

Natalie Appleton

Natalie Appleton

The seven most amazing things you will discover in Jewish life and culture.  This week: Rowetta’s X Factor dream ends, Natalie Appleton quits life in the jungle, Israeli singer Chava Alberstein hits London, and Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest character is revealed.

1. End of the road for Rowetta: SJ’s favourite X Factor contestant Rowetta has missed out on a place in the semi-final after receiving the lowest number of votes from viewers on Saturday’s show. Despite receiving praise from the judges for her renditions of Tina Turner classic River Deep Mountain High and the Diana Ross song When You Tell Me That You Love Me, the former Happy Mondays backing singer lost out to the show’s remaining hopefuls. She does, however, have the distinction of being the most successful female contestant on the show – and coming fourth out of 50,000 people is no mean feat. Meanwhile, the jury’s still out on whether fellow contestant Steve Brookstein – who has made it to the semi-final – is Jewish.

2. Pacino’s Jewish side: SJ has had a sneak preview of the new film version of the Shakespeare classic The Merchant Of Venice, which stars Al Pacino as the money-lender Shylock. It’s a must-see for fans of the Bard, and Pacino is in fine form, giving the character a much-needed sympathetic edge. The premiere takes place in London on Monday night, and the film opens in cinemas across the UK from Friday.  

3. Jungle jitters: Former All Saint Natalie Appleton has quit the latest series of reality TV show I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here. The Semitic singer got off to a bad start last week by appearing afraid of everything in the jungle camp and wanting to go home withing minutes of arriving – but things became a bit too much for the former All Saint after the public voted for her to do five of the show’s ‘Bushtucker trials’ – in which contestants have to complete a series of unpleasant tasks to win extra food for their fellow campers. Natalie’s week in camp saw her walking across tightropes, wading through snake-filled rivers and being into tanks full of putrid water – and she didn’t perform too well, giving up on many of the tasks within minutes. The fifth task, which would have seen her trying to make her way through rat-infested quicksand, proved to be the final straw.

4. Closer to an Oscar: British Jewish writer Patrick Marber is being heavily tipped to nab an Oscar nomination for his big screen debut – an adaptation of his hit West End play Closer. The film version, which stars Natalie Portman and Julia Roberts, opens in the US this week and reaches UK screens in January, but critics who have already seen the film are giving it a very enthusiastic thumbs up. Marber, who found fame working on TV hits The Day Today and Knowing Me Knowing You, has already won several awards for the stage version, including the 1997 Evening Standard Theatre Award – we’ll find out on February 27 whether he’ll be adding an Oscar to the trophy cabinet. Also being tipped for awards success are Portman and the film’s director Mike Nichols (best known for such hits as The Graduate and Working Girl)

5. Cohen’s new character: He’s brought us Ali G, Borat and Bruno, now comedian Sacha Baron Cohen is set to bring us another new character. He’s gearing up to star as aristocratic art thief Charlie Mortdecai – described as an eccentric, Inspector Clouseau-like character, in a new film based on a series of cult British comic books. The bad news is that the project’s still in the early stages, so it’ll be a while before we actually get to see it. Cohen, who’s become a star in the US thanks to the success of The Ali G Show on cable channel HBO, will next be seen – or at least heard – on screen, in the computer animated film Madagascar, due out next summer.

6. Chava’s flying visit: One of Israeli’s biggest female singing stars has popped over to the UK to play a show. Chava Alberstein, whose newest album End Of The Holiday has just been released, performed in front of a sell-out audience at London’s Barbican on Saturday night. If you didn’t catch her this time, she’ll be back again next year.

7. Jewtastic goes live: Think you can write good stuff about Jewish issues, whether it’s travel, entertainment, politics or sport – or anything else for that matter, even a weekly Torah commentary? Then Jewtastic, a new Jewish blogs network published by our sister company JMT Ventures, is offering writers the chance to not only be published but also earn some money. Find out more at: www.jewtastic.com