Kirk Douglas’ underground tunnel to the Playboy Mansion is no April Fool’s joke


In recent years, Kirk Douglas has been in the news for having his second and third bar mitzvahs (at ages 83 and 95 respectively), publishing a book of poetry and for his grandson’s brush with anti-Semitism.

This story is a little less G-rated.

On Monday, Playboy revealed that secret underground tunnels were built in the 1970s to connect the Playboy mansion to the houses of a select group of A-list actors – which included Kirk Douglas and fellow Jewish actor James Caan.

A Playboy editor who was looking for photos in their archive stumbled upon images of underground mansion walkways. Next came the discovery of a trove of “old photos, plans and blueprints” in a secret basement area of the Playboy Mansion. And then came the realization that the actors involved in this construction project – Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty rounded out the list — were so famous in the 1970s that this might not have been such a far-fetched idea.

It’s also worth noting that Playboy published this information on March 30, well before April Fool’s Day, so we are inclined to believe it.

Not surprisingly, none of the actors commented on this developing story.

However, Caan, 75, who stayed with Playboy founder Hugh Hefner at his legendary abode several times throughout the ’70s, has said in the past that the mansion was the “greatest nightclub in the world.”

Douglas, who is 98, has been married to his second wife Anne since 1954. Maybe he visited the Playboy mansion through his secret tunnel just to hang out with Hugh Hefner.

Hebrew Playboy coming to Israel


A Hebrew version of Playboy magazine is coming to Israel.

Attorney Daniel Pomerantz, an Israeli immigrant from Chicago, has negotiated the rights for the Israeli version of the men's magazine, Haaretz reported. There is no launch date yet but eventually it will be available in print and online.

“We went to Hefner’s estate with the Israeli team to learn from the Playboy experts,” said Pomerantz, speaking of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. “Hefner was very excited that there was a word [for bunny] in Hebrew – it proved that there is a cultural link between the Playboy brand and Israeli culture.”

The magazine will have articles from international versions of Playboy translated into Hebrew, and also will feature Israeli writers. The nude models featured also will be Israeli.

Pomerantz said the magazine will be “sexy” but “not about sex.”

“It will be inspiring and broadcast quality and beauty,” he said. “For me this is an opportunity to show the world the nice side of Israel, the culture here.”

The Israeli version will cover leisure areas for men such as gadgets, style and food, as well as investigative and feature articles on culture, sports, politics and economics.

Circulation of Playboy, which was founded in 1953, has dropped in recent years, to 1.5 million last year, amid increased competition.

German Jewish activist voted sexiest female politician


A 25-year-old Jewish woman has been voted Germany's sexiest female politician.

Marina Weisband, 25, a leading member of the “Pirate Party Germany,” took first place in a Playboy online poll with 29 percent of the votes. According to the Bild Zeitung newspaper, 1,000 people took part in the poll.

Coming in second was the Left Party politician Sahra Wagenknecht, with 28 percent of the vote.

Weisband came to Germany with her family from Ukraine in 1994, in the wave of Jewish emigration following the fall of the Berlin Wall and. the collapse of the Soviet Union. She joined the Pirate Party – a progressive liberal party that promotes Internet freedom – in 2009 and served as its executive director from May 2011 to April 2012. During her tenure, she reportedly took on the issue of anti-Semitism and right-wing extremism among some party members.

Weisband now is pursuing a PhD in psychology. She has not ruled out a return to political activism but will not run as a candidate for the Bundestag this year.

The Bild newspaper notes that Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, age 58, got only 3 percent of the Playboy vote.

Raising Bucks With Bunnies


It’d be safe to say that Playboy bunnies are of one world, while fundraising for the Jewish elderly is of quite another. But worlds will collide the night of Aug. 26, when the Guardians of the Jewish Home for the Aging host a benefit in the unlikeliest of venues: the Playboy Mansion.

Sure, the place is the ultimate bachelor pad of Hugh Heffner and his many bunnies. And sure, it’s known for its midsummer night’s dream parties of orgiastic excess. But by planning a much tamer Vegas-style night to raise funds for a different sort of home, the philanthropic organization hopes to catch people’s interest and attention without crossing the line.

“We’ve talked to people that were concerned about it and explained that this isn’t one of those raucous, hedonistic parties that you hear about in Playboy magazine,” explained Sean Besser, vice chair of the Young Men’s Division board.The board planned the original event last September to great response, according to Besser. Plans for this year’s affair include Vegas-style gaming, a poker tournament, food catered by the mansion chef, open bar, raffle prizes, (clothed) Playmate-led tours and access to the mansion’s extensive grounds.Besser said the interest has been just as good this year by both men and women of all ages.

“We’ve been shocked by the diversity of responses,” he said. “There are octogenarians that are coming. One man told me, ‘Its one place I want to go before I die.'”

Saturday, Aug. 26, 8 p.m. $250-$525. Advance reservations required. For information call (310) 479-2468 or visit www.laguardians.com.

— Keren Engelberg, Contributing Writer

Whodunnit? Kander & Ebb

If musical theater were a person, Jerry Herman would be its smile, Oscar Hammerstein II its heart, Stephen Sondheim its wit and John Kander and Fred Ebb its sex appeal. The latter two, who’ve spent their career making titillating shows about seemingly unsexy things — such as prison life in the ’20s (“Chicago”) and Berlin in the ’30s (“Cabaret”) — have brought that talent to “Curtains,” one of their final collaborations prior to Ebb’s death in 2004. The show is having its premiere at the Ahmanson Theatre before heading to Broadway.The murder-mystery musical comedy (with additional lyrics by Rupert Holmes) uses the show-within-a-show device and revolves around a 1950s theater-loving detective, Lt. Frank Cioffi (David Hyde Pierce), who tries to figure out who killed the leading lady of “Robbin’ Hood” during the opening night bows.Both detective and theater aficionado, Cioffi works on the crime, as well as problems plaguing some of the musical numbers in “Robbin’.”

Keen-eyed audience members will note that “Curtains,” which plays through Sept. 10, is very much a love letter to other musicals, with hat-tips to “Oklahoma,” “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Phantom of the Opera.”The show is filled with some of the best-timed punchlines ever to grace the L.A. stage. Most of those lines are delivered by the show’s two scene stealers: Edward Hibbert as director Christopher Belling, and Debra Monk as producer Carmen Bernstein, who, when her daughter says, “The theater is a temple,” responds: “What? So it should only be filled on Shabbos?”Keep an ear open during Carmen’s number, “It’s a Business,” for one of the only mentions of Yom Kippur in musical theater history.

“Curtains” plays through Sept. 10 at the Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. $30-$95. For tickets and information on groups call (213) 628-2772 or visit www.centertheatregroup.org.

— Shoshana Lewin, Contributing Writer