POPSTAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING *Movie Review*


Real-life best friends Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone have mastered the art of working with friends.  Together, the three created some of the most iconic viral videos that “Saturday Night Live” has featured in years.

Now, moving on to bigger screens the three, who call themselves The Lonely Island, star in POPSTAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING, which they also wrote and directed.  It’s a mockumentary filled with back-to-back celebrity cameos and start-to-finish laughter.  The trio managed to get half of Hollywood to sign onto their project: P!nk, Michael Bolton, Mariah Carey, Maya Rudolph, Sarah Silverman and many more.

For more about POPSTAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING take a look below…

—>Looking for the direct link to the video?  Click here.

9 times Donald Trump has been compared to Hitler


Donald Trump is not happy with the Hitler comparison.

Prominent people have lately likened the Republican presidential front-runner to Adolf Hitler for his comments targeting Mexicans and Muslims and for his populist politicking style.

Most recently, Trump has had his supporters raise their right hands and pledge to vote for him. Some, including former Anti-Defamation League head Abe Foxman, think the practice reminiscent of Nazi rallies where crowds would “heil Hitler.”

“I don’t know about the Hitler comparison. I hadn’t heard that, but it’s a terrible comparison. I’m not happy about that certainly,” Trump said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday.

It doesn’t help that last week Trump wavered in disavowing former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who isone of many racists and anti-Semites to voice support for the real estate billionaire’s campaign.

Here are nine people who have recently made the Trump-Hitler equation.

1. Louie C.K.

The acclaimed comedian didn’t mince words in an email he sent Saturday to his fans.

“It was funny for a little while,” he wrote, “But the guy is Hitler. And by that I mean we are being Germany in the ‘30s. Do you think they saw the shit coming? Hitler was just some hilarious and refreshing dude with a weird comb over who would say anything at all.”

2. Bill Maher

 
On his HBO show “Real Time with Bill Maher” on Friday, the political comedian pointed out that a 1990 Vanity Fair article found Trump kept a volume of Hitler’s speeches by his bedside. Then he showed a video of a Hitler speech and gave it a satirical English translation. Some of the best lines include “Germany doesn’t win anymore” and “The Treaty of Versailles? A terrible deal.”

3. Glenn Beck

The former Fox News host called Trump a “dangerous man” on ABC’s “This Week.”

“You know, we all look at Adolf Hitler in 1940. We should look at Adolf Hitler in 1929,” Beck told George Stephanopolous on Sunday. “He was a funny kind of character who said the things that people were thinking. Where Donald trump takes it I have absolutely no idea.”

4. The ladies of “The View”

On Monday’s “The View,” Jewish host Michelle Collins — who said more than half her family was wiped out in the Holocaust — brought up The New York Times’ first mention of Hitler from the ’30s. She said it described the Nazi ruler as someone who at first used anti-Semitism only to garner followers.

“I look at this and it frightens me,” Collins said, referring to Trump’s rise. “I know that he isn’t targeting me right now, but we don’t know.”

Fellow host Joy Behar brought up comedian John Oliver’s recent segment on Donald Trump on his HBO show “Last Week Tonight.” In a clip that went viral, Oliver found that Trump’s family name was once the German Drumpf.

“His real name is Drumpf, like mein Drumpf,” Behar said.

5. Anne Frank’s stepsister

Eva Schloss, whose mother married Anne Frank’s father after World War II, survived Auschwitz. She slammed Trump while marking Holocaust Remembrance Day last month.

“If Donald Trump become[s] the next president of the U.S. it would be a complete disaster,” Schloss, 86, told Newsweek. “I think he is acting like another Hitler by inciting racism.”

6. Former ADL chief Abe Foxman

“As a Jew who survived the Holocaust, to see an audience of thousands of people raising their hands in what looks like the ‘Heil Hitler’ salute is about as offensive, obnoxious and disgusting as anything I thought I would ever witness in the United States of America,” the former head of the Anti-Defamation League said Sunday. “We’ve seen this sort of thing at rallies of neo-Nazis.”

Donald Trump supporters raising their hands and reciting a pledge at their candidate's urging at a rally in Orlando, Florida. (Twitter)Donald Trump supporters raising their hands and reciting a pledge at their candidate’s urging at a rally in Orlando, Florida. Photo from Twitter

7. Mexico’s former president Vicente Fox

Trump last June called Mexican immigrants “rapists” who bring “crime” with them across the border into the U.S. He has also advocated building a wall along the southern U.S. border to block illegal immigration.

These statements don’t sit well with Vicente Fox, a former Mexican president who sounded off on Trump last month.

“Today, he’s going to take [the U.S.] back to the old days of conflict, war and everything. I mean, he reminds me of Hitler. That’s the way he started speaking,” Fox told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

8. Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman

The Republican leader was reminded of Hitler when in Decemeber Trump called for temporarily barring Muslims from entering the U.S. He first made the controversial call in the wake of the deadly terrorist shooting in San Bernandino, California, which was carried out by two American Muslims.

“If you go and look at your history and you read your history in the lead-up to the Second World War this is the kind of rhetoric that allowed Hitler to move forward,” Whitman told CNN after Trump’s announcement. “Because you have people who were scared the economy was bad, they want someone to blame.”

9. The “Saturday Night Live” cast

Trump might have hosted “SNL” last fall, but isn’t keeping the show from mercilessly mocking him.

In a fake ad — the second of two segments from Saturday’s show to skewer him — Trump supporters are portrayed as Ku Klux Klan members, white supremacists and yes, neo-Nazis. At one point, cast member Taran Killam raises his arm to expose a red swastika-emblazoned arm bad.

Trump can’t even escape the Hitler comparisons in his hometown.

On ‘SNL’ with Larry David, Bernie Sanders plays the Jewish idealist


Bernie Sanders and Larry David finally met live on Saturday night, on “Saturday Night Live” — and things got prettay, prettay Jewish.

In running for the Democratic presidential nod, Sanders has not shied from his doppelganger. He told CNN’s Anderson Cooper this week that he is, in fact, Larry David, and his campaign has used the comedian’s Sanders impressions for votes and money.

David, a former Seinfeld show-runner and now go-to Sanders impressionist, did three identity-bending turns with the Vermont senator on Saturday night.

In “Bern Your Enthusiasm,” a take on David’s HBO series, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” David’s Sanders loses the Iowa caucus by a hair’s breadth (as the real Sanders did), because on the last day of voting, he alienates five voters — enough to hand Hillary Rodham Clinton the state.

Sanders and David later appear together on stage to throw over to the night’s musical guest. Asked by David about his lead in New Hampshire, Sanders replies with his version of the famous “Curb Your Enthusiasm” line: “It’s pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.”

In their final rendezvous of the night, Sanders and David both play turn of the 20th century Jewish immigrants on a ship bound for Ellis Island. They sound and look alike, down to their outfits.

But they have fundamentally different outlooks. Sanders’s character can’t wait to land and begin exposing income inequality. David’s, spooked by a squall, balks at the captain’s order to save “women and children first,” demanding to check the “pubes” on a child boarding a life raft.

Sanders’ character doesn’t hold himself apart from his fellow passengers.

“I’m Bernie Sanderswitzky,” he says. “We’re going to change it when we get to America so it doesn’t sound so Jewish.”

“Yeah, that’ll trick them,” David’s character replies.

It’s a sly, self-deprecating nod to Sanders’ reluctance — until very recently – to speak about his Jewish background and upbringing.

But it also goes to American Jewish ambivalence about Sanders’ campaign.

Who do American Jews more identify with: The idealist who would conceal his Jewishness; or the realist — and survivor — who knows his Jewishness will inevitably out?

Larry David calls Trump a racist on ‘SNL,’ earns $5,000


Comedian Larry David heckled billionaire presidential candidate Donald Trump during his appearance on “Saturday Night Live” and will pocket $5,000 for it.

“You’re a racist. Trump’s a racist,” David yelled from offstage during Trump’s opening monologue on Saturday night.

The Deport Racism PAC had offered a $5,000 bounty for “anyone on the set of the show or in the studio audience who yells out or gets on camera during the live TV broadcast clearly heard in the TV broadcast saying “Deport Racism” or “Trump is a Racist.”

The organization later thanked David for yelling at Trump and promised to pay up.

Asked by Trump for an explanation, David replied, “I heard if I yelled that, they’d give me $5000.” “As a businessman, I can fully respect that,” Trump replied.

The heckling was written as part of the opening monologue, Raw Story reported.

The previous week, David appeared on the show as Bernie Sanders.

Q&A with Nikki Levy


“Saturday Night Live” alumna Laraine Newman shares an experience she had in high school, when, high on a psychedelic drug, she saw her mother as a person and not just her parent for the first time. 

Actress (and daughter of Motown icon Diana Ross) Tracee Ellis Ross, one of the stars of the TV series “Girlfriends,” which ended in 2008, shares a story about when she once used what she thought was a toilet, but which was actually a stage prop, and how she worried that her mistake would ruin her mom’s reputation. 

On Sept. 13, Newman and Ross were among a cast of comedians, screenwriters and actors who appeared in the show “Don’t Tell My Mother!” an increasingly popular storytelling comedy show produced monthly at Café Club Fais Do-Do in Los Angeles. Next month, the show celebrates its one-year anniversary with a performance on Oct. 11 and expands to New York.

“Don’t Tell My Mother!” creator Nikki Levy is a producer at 20th Century Fox who grew up in a Jewish household in New York — with a stereotypical Jewish mother. During a series of interviews, she described how, for her, the show’s best stories are wild without being mean-spirited, salacious but still enlightening. The following is an edited and condensed version of those interviews.

 

Jewish Journal: If you’re a performer, what’s the incentive to go out in front of an audience and share something personal and humiliating, other than to get laughs? Are there other reasons that performers might do it?

Nikki Levy: I figure it’s for a couple of reasons. One, it feels really good to be honest — and sometimes it’s easier to do it in front of a crowd than in front of a really good friend. 

Also, I think people like to get exposure. Someone who is doing our next show got an agent from doing the show [last May]. Someone also cast a pilot from doing the show. So there’s the actual work incentive.

But I think the other incentive is the honesty involved with it. I work in the entertainment business, a lot of people I get are people who act and write, and I think a lot of people don’t get to do this kind of show. They’re maybe on a TV show or write for a super successful sitcom or something, but that idea of sharing writing, performing in a different kind of medium and in a really personal way is kind of freeing. They’re not writing for someone else’s voice, not writing for a character. They’re writing as them. 

 

JJ: Your audience has been growing, and similar comedic storytelling shows also have been dong well. Why do audiences respond so enthusiastically to this type of confessional storytelling? 

NL: Well, my feeling is we’re bombarded with so much bulls— all the time that it’s very compelling when someone honest is performing. I learned this thing once, in acting class — it’s a reason we look at car crashes: All of a sudden, we see something that’s real, it captures us because it’s truth. For instance, in a play you drift off, but the minute someone gets real, actually real, your eyes automatically go to that person. In this world now, with Facebook, Twitter and celebrities tweeting personal things, we’re past the point of going to see stand-up [comedy], of someone doing a character. People want to see things that are real and things that are honest.

 

JJ: You’ve had 10 shows and hosted dozens of performers at this point. Do performers make similar confessions? You said a lot of the stories have been salacious. What other topics have popped up a lot, besides sex? 

NL: We had a great story from someone who accidentally shoplifted at age 24 and got arrested, when really she was spacey, as opposed to shoplifting. One of my favorite stories — by [performer] Jen Kober — she told a story about being a fat kid in a small town and her mother would make her ration cheese that she got from Costco. Jen, 8 years old, realized she needed to steal the entire block of cheese and convince her mother she never bought it. That’s a story I loved. They’re definitely not all sex stories. Drugs come up. Getting arrested comes up. Stealing comes up. Losing your virginity is something that comes up. 

I told my “Hand-Job in the Holy Land” story. … I think it was probably 1993. It was the USY Israel Pilgrimage. … I told that story in March. People loved it. It was short, like five to seven minutes, and people loved it. A lot of audience members are Jews … a lot of the audience having been in USY tours when they were kids. 

 

JJ: How did you become interested in comedy?

NL: Well, I came from a totally bananas household, the wild, wild East Coast of Queens. And coming from two parents who did not get along, there was a lot of yelling, so I would park myself in front of the TV and I would pop in the same three VHS tapes over and over again: “Coming to America”; the critically acclaimed [she says this sarcastically] “Moving Violations,” starring Bill Murray’s brother, John Murray — it’s so awesome but so bad; and “National Lampoon’s European Vacation.”… I don’t know what drew me to comedy, but I loved it and I love everything about it, and I was totally in love with Eddie Murphy, completely in love.

When I was 12, I came out to L.A. with my mom to visit family, and one of my family members worked at Paramount, so we got a tour of the studio lot, and I saw Eddie Murphy’s golf cart — this is during the ’80s, and I thought, “Oh my God, I’m totally going to work at a studio, in movies, in casting or development.”

For whatever reason, I chose development. But I loved comedies since I was  a kid, probably because it was a great distraction from all the craziness at home. It was such an awesome escape.

 

JJ:  So when did you move to Los Angeles to pursue development?

NL: I moved in November 2002. I’d been working at the Oxygen network, in New York, but I’d gone to school [at Northwestern University] for film [specifically, creative writing for media]. I always wanted to work in film, and there was no film in New York. I was 24 years old, and my mom said, “If not now, when? And if you don’t like it, come back.” 

I sublet my amazing place in Park Slope, and I came out here, and I felt the max I would be here is six years. [She landed several jobs, including positions at Imagine Entertainment as the junior development executive on Oscar nominee “Frost/Nixon” and running “Ice Age” director Chris Wedge’s animation company, before taking a break living in Buddhist monasteries in Northern California, “because I wanted a change,” she said.] … It was during that time, between Imagine and working for Chris, that I started writing again and doing a little performing here and there. 

Last October, we had our first [“Don’t Tell My Mother!”] show, and we had 100 people waiting at the door. It was Yom Kippur, and it was my birthday. … I had told my producer to lay out 35 seats because I wanted the place to look packed. … When all those people came, I was flabbergasted, literally. 

 

JJ: So your expectations for the show weren’t high?

NL: No, I didn’t have any high hopes for the show. I just figured we’ll do it, and it will be fun. I worked with people on their pieces, like I do now, and hoped it would be good. … I couldn’t believe all these people came. Granted, they were mostly my friends, but still they showed up and gave the impression that maybe there is something to this. The theater took the entire door of 100 people. I didn’t even arrange anything with them. They took all the money because I was, like, whatever, I don’t care.

I get that a big part of [the success] has to do with the title — we all have something with our moms and want to hear salacious stories that you wouldn’t share elsewhere. … But I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I was finally inhabiting my own skin. And it became, like, OK, we’re here to make these people happy. Let’s just have fun. And it was such a fun show.

For information about upcoming performances of “Don’t Tell My Mother!” visit donttellmymother.com.

Al Franken leads in Senate race, poll finds


Al Franken has taken the lead over incumbent Norm Coleman in the Minnesota Senate race, according to a new poll.

The Star-Tribune Minnesota Poll, conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 2, showed the Democrat and former writer-performer for “Saturday Night Live” with a 43 percent to 34 percent advantage over Coleman, a Republican, in a contest of Jewish candidates. Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley garnered 18 percent.

Coleman led Franken by four points last month in the same poll. The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 points.

Coleman campaign officials, according to the Minnesota Star-Tribune, criticized the poll’s methodology by noting that a SurveyUSA poll conducted by a local TV station and released earlier in the week had Coleman up 10 points on Franken, 43 percent to 33 percent.

The Star-Tribune Minnesota poll also found that Barkley was drawing more votes from Coleman than Franken, and that Franken would be ahead by seven points in a head-to-head match.

–JTA

Balancing humor and current events in ‘Zohan’ proved to be a struggle for Smigel


When Robert Smigel needed inspiration to co-write “You Don’t Mess With The Zohan” with Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow, he recalled an Israeli counselor at a Jewish summer camp he attended in the 1970s — Camp Moden in Maine.

“He was a veteran of the army and was this good-looking guy…. He had a Fu Manchu mustache and long hair, and he actually wore the Daisy Duke short-shorts and sandals,” Smigel said. “I saw his face a lot when I was thinking of dialogue.”

“Zohan,” which opens nationwide on June 6, follows Zohan Dvir, a skilled and sexually provocative Israeli counter-terrorist super-agent (Sandler), who fakes his own death to pursue a hair styling career in New York. Haaretz describes the film as “‘Shampoo’ meets ‘Munich’ meets ‘Happy Gilmore.'”

Although “Zohan” walks a fine line between offensive and playful humor, it isn’t the first to marry the Mideast crisis and comedy. Ari Sandel’s musical comedy, “West Bank Story,” a “West Side Story”-style tale of feuding Israeli and Palestinian falafel stand owners, won the 2006 best live action short Oscar.

And like “West Bank Story,” Smigel says his intent in making the film was to find humor in a situation fraught with daily tension.

“It’s such a part of our lives that people need to laugh at it; it’s just a way of coping,” he said.

“Zohan” marks Smigel’s first major screenwriting credit, following a well-established career in television. A writer with Saturday Night Live since 1985, he is perhaps best known for the “TV Funhouse” cartoon shorts that include “The Ambiguously Gay Duo.” Younger fans might know Smigel as the puppeteer behind Triumph the Insult Comic Dog on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” where he served as head writer from the show’s 1993 launch until 2000.

Sandler, Apatow and Smigel had originally started work on “Zohan” in 2000, but the script was shelved following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In early 2007, Smigel got a call from Sandler saying he was interested in resurrecting the project.

A New York native, Smigel said he never really planned to become a writer. His father, a dentist who invented a special bonding technique, encouraged him to continue the family practice. After failing as a pre-dental student, Smigel moved on to writing and performing improv in Chicago for the Players Workshop of The Second City, where he met fellow “SNL” writers Conan O’Brien and Bob Odenkirk. Three years later, he moved to New York to write for “Saturday Night Live” during its critically panned 1985-86 season.

Smigel was among the few who retained a job after Lorne Michaels fired most of the “SNL” cast and writing staff after that season. He went on to write memorable sketches, including William Shatner’s “get a life” speech at a “Star Trek” convention, and he performed in front of the cameras, most notably as Carl Wollarski in the “Bill Swerski’s Superfan” sketches.

He said that “Zohan” has a similar vibe to two sketches he wrote for “SNL,” “Sabra Shopping Network” (Sandler’s first “SNL” sketch) in 1990, and 1992’s “Sabra Price Is Right,” which stars Tom Hanks as a pushy Israeli game show host, Sandler and Rob Schneider as its presenters and Smigel as a cigarette-smoking announcer, all pushing third-rate electronics.

Smigel, who has had cameo roles in Sandler films (an IRS representative in “Happy Gilmore” and a mailman in “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry”), appears in “Zohan” as Yosi, an Israeli electronics salesman with one-time aspirations of becoming a hand model.

The film also stars Moroccan Jewish actress Emmanuelle Chriqui as Dalia, the Palestinian salon owner and Zohan’s love interest; John Turturro as Phantom, a Palestinian terrorist; and Rob Schneider as Salim, a Palestinian cabdriver.

When it came to Palestinian characters, Smigel consulted a few Arab friends for thoughts and suggestions.

“We were constantly showing the script to people from both sides,” Smigel said. “We make fun of both sides in a fairly gentle way. On both sides, we’ll be offensive. If it was only one sided, I’d be concerned.”

And he made a point to portray both sides as Americanized. Smigel holds that the message of the film is that the two groups are very similar, especially when in the United States. They are just trying to survive and make a living doing what they want to do, he said.

While the movie doesn’t “pretend to have any answer to the Middle East crisis,” Smigel said, it is “critical of both sides in different ways.”

And even on the set, Arab and Jewish cast members got along: “Each side was able to see the humanity in the other side,” he said.

Although the film has received mixed early reviews, Smigel said he’s been around long enough to know that you can’t please everyone.

“Any time you write a comedy about a subject that’s this serious and that people have passionate feelings about, there are going to be people, particularly on the extreme sides of the issue, that are going to be very hard to satisfy,” Smigel said.

But in the end, he believes that “Zohan” isn’t necessarily a political movie.

“It’s an Adam Sandler movie with some politics in it,” he said.