Sidetracked

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From Nanny to wicked stepmother
Fran Drescher, the former “Nanny,” is going to be a wicked stepmother.
Fran Drescher, best known for playing the down-to-earth Fran Fine in The Nanny, is bringing her talents to Broadway, where she’ll be playing Cinderella’s stepmother on Broadway.
The 10-week engagement, starting Feb. 4, will allow Drescher to exercise her comic talents in an unusual milieu for the TV star. Still, there’s no doubt Drescher will be able to project in the theater, with her trademark soaring nasal twang.
And who’s to say Drescher won’t shine in a story about kings, princes and fairy godmothers? After all, she is from Queens.

Mel Brooks: Humor has become universal
Mel Brooks, the 87-year-old reigning king of Jewish humor, told BuzzFeed recently that comedy has become increasingly universal.
The distinction between Jewish and secular comedy is a thing of the past, Brooks explained. “Twenty-five years ago, sure, yes, absolutely,” he told Buzzfeed. “Today, it’s the same education, same newspapers, leading now to TV, leading to the internet. I think [humor is] all the same now.”
Brooks also revealed that he regularly gets letters from rabbis and offers them advice about humor in return. Jokes, according to Brooks, are more unforgettable than your average sermon.
Certainly when it comes to the legendary writer/director of Robin Hood: Men in Tights, The Producers and Spaceballs, unforgettable is the word.


David Mamet to tackle the seven deadly sins for Fox  
David Mamet has signed a contract with Fox to develop a seven-hour series based on the Christian concept of the seven deadly sins, Variety reports.
The famed playwright, author of Glengarry Glen Ross and two-time Pulitzer Prize
winner, has agreed to write and direct the first episode and write at least two subsequent segments.
Mamet is no stranger to biblical material. In fact, he once co-authored a commentary on the Torah entitled Five Cities of Refuge: Weekly Reflections on Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy (2004), with Rabbi Lawrence Kushner. And although the series focuses on Christian concepts of sin (the seven deadly sins originated with a fourth-century Greek monk, later popularized by the likes of Dante Alighieri and Thomas Aquinas), the playwright has often trafficked in humanity’s darker motivations.
Arguably Mamet’s most famous work, Glengarry Glen Ross, a brutally frank portrayal of the lives of Chicago real estate agent, has plenty to say about greed. In fact, some of the play’s characters embrace greed as a virtue. An early scene in the movie version features a young Alec Baldwin whipping real estate salesmen into a frenzy and showing off a Rolex.
However he winds up approaching the seven deadly sins, it’s certain that Mamet, author of some 35 plays in addition to his books, movies and films, can’t be accused of sloth.

Ben Stiller: Fond memories of early trip to Israel
Ben Stiller revealed to Parade magazine that he has some fond memories from visiting Israel as a teen.
The actor and director, promoting his new movie, recalled that he took a father-son bonding trip with his father, comedian Jerry Stiller, to Israel at 16 — and found himself in a romantic dalliance there.
“I met a girl on that trip and we had a whirlwind romance,” Stiller told Parade. “Is it blasphemous to say we ended up making out near the Western Wall? It might be. But we did… . It was one of those times you don’t ever forget.”
Stiller has returned to Israel several times since then, Ynet reports.
Talia Lavin is an intern at JTA. A recent Harvard graduate and aspiring novelist, she recently returned from a Fulbright grant in Ukraine, where she studied early 20th-century Hebrew literature.

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