UPDATED 3 PM, MARCH 4
When you’re on the Jewish beat, it’s always a treat when the celebrity story everyone is consumed with across the country or globe turns out to have the coveted Jewish Angle.
The Oscars? Forget about it. Even the WASPiest movie ever made, "The King’s Speech," had a Jewish writer. Almost anything Hollywood related has some Jewish angle. As Adam Sandler sang, “So many Jews are in the show biz; Tom Cruise isn’t Jewish, but I hear his agent is.”
More politicians and movie stars than you can shake a lulav at have turned out to have a Jewish parent or a Jewish spouse. But celebrity trainwreck Charlie Sheen, who has said he doesn’t mind at all when people call him by his given name of Carlos Esteves, is the gift that keeps on giving this week.
On Friday, he told Access Hollywood he not only isn’t an anti-Semite, he’s a Jew. "My mom is Jewish," he told AH’s Billy Bush. "I guess that would make me Jewish and my children Jewish. And Brooke, my ex-wife is Jewish."
Asked why he didn’t mention this publicly earlier in the week when he was under fire from the Anti-Defamation League, Charlie said "Stupid me. I just got caught sleeping … which is rare for me."
Charlie’s tsuris — or at least this segment of it — began with his seething tirade against his “contaminated little maggot” TV producer ,Chuck Lorre in which he dredged up Lorre’s given name of Chaim Levine. Is tossing out your enemy’s pre-assimilation name anti-Semitic, or just an attempt to paint him as a shallow phony (in which case Carlos would be hoisted by his own petard)?
The ADL’s Abe Foxman believes the former, saying the actor’s tirade “left he impression that another reason for his dislike of Mr. Lorre is his Jewishness.” It didn’t die there. Turns out some of Sheen’s best lawyers are Jewish, so he had counsel Marty Singer fire off a missive to the ADL demanding a retraction. The fax over at the ADL’s Turtle Bay digs hasn’t cranked that one out yet.
Just as it began to unfold, at least to me, as a do-over of the geshrei over Sarah Palin’s indiscriminate use of the term blood libel – as in, ‘you’re libeling me by saying there is blood on my hands’ – Sheen dug himself deeper into the genizah by supposedly texting his ex-wife, Brooke Daniels — with whom he is embarking on a custody dispute that will lead to a hiring spree at TMZ and the National Enquirer — “"I must execute mark b like the stoopid jew pic that he is.” This is apparently the kind of completely random thought Charlie is prone to these days.
Mel Gibson taught us that excessive drinking makes you anti-Semitic, a phenomenon that has yet to catch up to my shul’s Kiddush club. Now, with pop shrinks tele-diagnosing Charlie with a chemical imbalance, we’re about to learn that bipolar disorder also makes you hate the Jews. (Perhaps another teleshrink will diagnose what it means to hate your own people in this condition.)
Jeffrey Goldberg in his Atlantic Monthly Godblog notes that it’s not just Charlie but wacky fashionistas, Arab leaders and Wikileaks Julian Assange that seem to obsessed about Jews, a disproportionate focus on a mere 14 million of the world’s population. Which brings us to wonder how a designer for Christian Dior developed his fascination with Hitler and who should have been gassed. You can’t toss a coat hanger in the upscale shmatte business where John Galliano plies his trade without coming across a few erratically dressed, and likely Sephardic, MOTs. Unfortunately for Galliano, who let loose his Hitler tirade in a Paris cafe next to one of the Earth 6+ billion people who carry a phone camera, one of those MOTs is the Black Swan herself, Natalie Herschlag, aka Portman, who is Dior‘s resident shayna maidel’.
Natalie declared that she was “shocked and disgusted by the video” and “will not be associated with Mr. Galiano in any way.” Faced with the choice between the Oscar-packing baby mama with the golden touch and a guy who looks like he escaped from rehab to raid the rejects from Johnny Depp’s Pirates of the Carribean wardrobe, Dior wisely booted the bigot.
But the biggest event of the week is a star material witness in the age-old case of the crucifixion , with Pope Benedict himself weighing in in a new book that Jews of today should not be held responsible, something that could awken Gibson out of his stupor and exile to make another movie in rebuttal.
It’s good to know that six years after "Passion of the Christ," our sensitivity about this issue seems been died down . When Showtimes’s aptly named dark comedy "Shameless" – a grown-up version of the Simpsons wth more kids, more sex and drunkenness and no mother – recently featured a Jewish pawn broker declaring that he was thrilled that his people killed “that putz” there wasn’t a single outcry about it — not even any Google results — let alone a press release from Foxman or the Catholic League. But then, perhaps, that just says more about the show’s ratings than senses of humor.
Speaking of sin, next time you hear from me I will have woken up in Vegas, and will be blogging the dice out of the biggest ingathering of Jews in the desert since 1948, the first annual TribeFest. Read about it here. I’m glad to have achance to rub shoulders with what the Federation fogies hope are the machers of the 2020s and 2030s, people of varying Jewish affiliation from 22-45, while I still fit in. Next year, I just might get stopped at the door.