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Jewish entertainment news

Last updated: 2003-08-15

Mel Gibson’s latest film The Passion has created a furore in the States months before it’s even released, with Jewish groups and Rabbis accusing it of fuelling anti-Semitism. Los Angeles Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, says that the organisation has seen a huge increase in the amount of hate mail and threatening phone calls they are receiving as a result of the movie, which focuses on the last few hours in the life of Jesus Christ. A spokesman for Gibson, who is directing but not starring this time around, has denied the allegations. “Mel's interest is just the opposite as he has stated previously that this film is about love, hope, faith and forgiveness." Cinemagoers, on the other hand, might be harder to convince, given that the film is shot entirely in the ancient languages of Aramaic and Latin – with no subtitles.
It looks as though Mel Brooks’ award-winning stage show of The Producers is about to welcome back its two original stars. Nathan Lane, who played theatrical agent Max Bialystock, and Matthew Broderick, who co-starred as nervy accountant Leo Bloom, are apparently in negotiations to rejoin the production for three months from January 2004, possibly ahead of starring in the London production that is due on stage next year. A film version of the musical is also said to be in the works.
Israeli TV viewers are now able to tune in to the world’s first ever Hasidic soap opera. The Tel Aviv-set show The Rebbe’s Court focuses on the son-in-law of a Rabbi who is expelled from his ultra-orthodox community after being falsely accused of gambling, and attempts to make a new life for himself in the secular world. "It shows that Hasidic Jews are real people and that we all have something to learn from the other," said cast member Oded Menaster. The show is currently being screened on the Israeli cable channel Azure, which is devoted to Jewish issues.
In brief…
Look out for new singles from former All-Saint Melanie Blatt and ex S-clubber Rachel Stevens in the next month. Blatt’s single, Do Me Wrong, is her first since the band split up in 2000, while Stevens is promising a new raunchier image to go with her as-yet-untitled debut…Actress Roseanne Barr is to undergo hysterectomy surgery in the next few weeks. A spokeswoman for the former sitcom star said she expected her to make a full recovery…
Happy birthday this week to...:
Will And Grace star Debra Messing (35 on August 15), Hollywood screenwriter and author William Goldman (72 on August 12), singer Vanessa Carlton (23 on August 16).