Thursday, March 28, 2013

Jeremy Piven Reflects on Jewish Upbringing

ENTOURAGE STAR JEREMY PIVEN will star in “Mr. Selfridge,” an eight-part Masterpiece Classics mini-series that airs Sundays on PBS starting March 31. The mini-series is about an American (Piven) who moves to London and founds a successful department store different from anything the British have ever seen.

In a new interview with the Jewish Daily Forward Piven speaks openly about his Jewish upbringing. (I wrote about Jeremy Piven's reflection on his bar mitzvah on the PopJewish blog in January.) In this interview Piven opens up about the Reconstructionist synagogue he grew up in as well as how his Jewish upbringing influences his acting.

Here are some highlights from the interview with the Arty Semite from

Your online bio says you had a Jewish upbringing. What does that mean?

It means I was part of a Reconstructionist congregation. We prayed “to whom it may concern.” I was bar mitzvahed and my father was very active in his community growing up in Scranton, Penn. We weren’t in temple every week, but we would attend for the High Holidays.

This may be a tough question to answer, but do you bring anything from that upbringing to your work today?

It’s not a tough question. It’s actually a great question. I think I learned a sense of community growing up that I brought to my work. I learned through osmosis that another man’s success will not take away from your own. I felt that in the congregation and I brought that to the workplace — that philosophy wasn’t always embraced by everyone.


Ari Gold was Jewish and often obnoxious. Did you try to protect the character?

Well, yes. Every time I read the script I said, wow, this could be the part where we lose everyone, where the audience turns against the character because he was so offensive. It was my job to give the character as much dimension as possible. The one thing I hung my hat on is that Ari loved his family, was always monogamous and when he acted out it was only because he felt the ends justified the means.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

TMZ Notices LeBron's Wedding's on Yom Kippur

FOR THE RECORD I didn't get a save-the-date for LeBron James' wedding. But, even if I did I wouldn't be able to attend since his wedding is on Yom Kippur. It was actually that uncovered this fact when they got a hold of one of the save-the-date cards.

In TMZ's coverage of LeBron's upcoming wedding to his longtime girlfriend Savannah Brinson in San Diego, the celeb gossip site headlined the article "LEBRON JAMES: My Big, Fat... YOM KIPPUR WEDDING!" Nothing wrong with that, but it's the final paragraph that gets right up close to the line of anti-Semitism when they reference the age old joke about Jews and money.

But here's the problem ... Sept. 13 is the beginning of Yom Kippur -- a high holy day in the Jewish religion in which Hebrews and Shebrews are supposed to fast for roughly 24 hours while praying their faces off in temple. And for the record, James DOES have Jewish friends ... including the famous Rabbi Yishayahu Yosef Pinto... a man known around New York as the "Rabbi to the Business Stars." The good news ... LeBron will probably save a bunch of cash on the buffet. The bad news ... he won't be able to brag about the savings to the people who would appreciate it. Mazel Tov!!!
Why TMZ thinks that only Jews would appreciate saving money is beyond me. I don't know many people who don't appreciate a savings. But, I guess they needed to find the hook to the story of the wedding conflicting with Yom Kippur and the Rabbi Pinto reference was the best they could do.

If I worked at TMZ I would have gone with the story line that since LeBron James is getting married on Yom Kippur that means that neither Dan Gilbert (CEO of Quicken Loans), the Jewish owner of his former team the Cleveland Cavaliers, nor Micky Arison (CEO of Carnival Corporation), the Jewish owner of his current team the Miami Heat, will be able to attend. Not that Gilbert would have gotten the invitation.