Who What Where: Mel Brooks’ autobiography, and Leonardo di Caprio’s Aleph farm

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Who What Where: Mel Brooks’ autobiography, and Leonardo di Caprio’s Aleph farm

Our weekly roundup of what to look out for in arts, entertainment and all things life!

Brigit Grant is the Jewish News Supplements Editor

Autobiography: All About Him

The cheek of the man. At the tender age of 95, Mel Brooks has written his autobiography – All About Me. Apparently his son, Max, encouraged him to do it to fill the empty days during lockdown, during which his only appearance was in a public information short about social distancing.

So the colossus of comedy has penned a 500-page tome, which moves from his childhood in Depression-era Brooklyn to creating jokes for Sid Caesar and then a marriage to Anne Bancroft, before hitting such marvellous movies as The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, To Be or Not To Be and… well, you know the roster.

All about me

Mel is about to make History of the World, Part II, as a series for Hulu so, while we wait, this book, which offers clarity to the notion that his wit ‘is often characterised as being Jewish comedy. Occasionally, that’s true.

But for the most part, to characterise my humour as being purely Jewish humour is not accurate.

It’s really New York humour,’ is most welcome. Here’s hoping he lives as long as his other creation, the 2,000 Year Old Man.


Museum: Bobblehead Collection

A National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum has opened in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, thanks to the initiative of founder Phil Sklar, a Jewish sports fan who has turned his hobby into a one-of-a-kind collection of 7,000 unique bobbleheads.

Einstein bobblehead

Using the figures to support good causes, Phil also realised there was a shortage of Chanukah-themed bobbleheads, so came up with a bobbling menorah and dreidel.

Plans to create a bobble hamantaschen for Purim are underway, but he’s keen to see the Jewish collection grow, as you should be.

Chanukah bobbleheads

Environmentalism: Wolf Meat

Leonardo di Caprio’s last Israeli relationship was when he dated model Bar Refaeli, but he now has another with Aleph Farms, a cruelty-free meat start-up  co-founded by professor Shulamit Levenberg of the Biomedical Engineering Faculty at Technion Israel Institute of Technology. DiCaprio – who has long championed environmentalism – is joining the start-up as an adviser, saying: “One of the most impactful ways to combat the climate crisis is to transform our food system.”

Aleph Farms rolled out the first cultivated steak in 2018, which (here comes the science) involves isolating animal cells in a lab and reproducing optimal conditions for them to grow into tissue. Good for humans, animals and our planet. If Leo can lead the way on reducing the negative impacts of industrial beef production, it’s the role we will enjoy.


Survey: Rub A Dub Dub

You probably haven’t thought about it, but a lot of Brits have, and 50 percent of them would like to have a bath with Scarlett Johansson. The Jewish actress, who has just finished filming Wes Anderson’s new production Asteroid City with Jewish co-stars Adrien Brody and Liev Schreiber, seems to be the celebrity most on this isle would like to meet in a tub.

This fascinating fact, uncovered in a Fenjal bath oil survey, made no mention of Scarlett amid bubbles in The Nanny Diaries (2007) or stepping into the shower as Janet Leigh in a recreation of the Psycho scene in the Hitchcock film. That’s something for the 6/10 Brits who read in the bath to consider.

Scarlett in the shower


Discussion + Film: A Century Of Singer

Books by Isaac Bashevis Singer are part of the furniture in a Jewish home, so the centenary of the author’s birth is a good time to take them off the shelf, ahead of watching the BBC Arena film Isaac Singer’s Nightmare and Mrs Pupko’s Beard, which is being shown on 7 December as part of a Jewish Book Week series.

Filmed in Brooklyn, Bruce Davidson’s hilarious and touching portrait of the great Yiddish writer features friends, relatives, other ‘oddballs’ and the author himself acting. The film is followed by an online discussion with Rebecca Abrams, literary critic for the Financial Times, David Stromberg, editor of the Isaac Bashevis Singer Literary Trust, writer Shalom Auslander, who refers to Singer as ‘a darker, funnier Chagall’ and Evelyn Torton Beck, who worked with Singer as Yiddish translator of his short stories. The enduring relevance of the Polish émigré who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in the surreal documentary will be a revelation to anyone who only know him as Yentl’s creator.



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