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(photo credit: AP)
'Supersize Me' director visits Israel
Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock is in Israel preparing his next project. The director of the hit 2004 anti-fast food film Super Size Me, Spurlock spent time earlier this week at the Dead Sea, where he shot preliminary footage for his next effort, a "film about a number of places in the world, including Israel," according to the director's Israeli spokesperson.
As part of his Dead Sea visit, Spurlock ate a lunch prepared for him by local resident Dina Dagan. Spurlock, whose critical onscreen examination of McDonald's and other unhealthy foods won him a Director's Award at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, dined on Moroccan food including couscous and lamb cooked for him by Dagan. His host assured the fitness-minded director that he "had nothing to worry about," with Moroccan food widely considered one of the "healthiest and most nutritious cuisines" in the world.- Nathan Burstein
Jay-Z campaigns against anti-Semitism
Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and platinum-selling rapper Jay-Z are teaming up to fight anti-Semitism. Simmons, currently serving as chairman of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, has produced and starred in a pair of ads alongside Jay-Z, with the famous twosome telling viewers, "What's hot? Respect for people. What's not hot? Hating people for their color or religion."
The ads are the latest public service campaign by Simmons, who served as a keynote speaker with FFEU president Rabbi Marc Schneier earlier this year at a Washington, DC, rally urging US action to prevent genocide in Darfur. In the new ads, he and Jay-Z tell fans, "Anti-Semitism is a long word for racism ... don't let anyone tell you otherwise."
The ads will run in English, German, French, Spanish and Russian. - Nathan Burstein with JTA
Local Eurovision prelims canceled
Israeli pop fans with a weakness for tacky costumes and cheesy dance numbers will need to look somewhere new for satisfaction this March. Kdam Eurovision, the song competition that yields Israel's representative for the Eurovision Song Contest each year, has been canceled for 2007.
Officials at the Israel Broadcast Authority cited budget constraints in the decision to call off the national song contest, which has traditionally aired live each March. Following performances by aspiring Eurovision competitors, television viewers select Israel's Eurovision representative via text messages and telephone voting. The winning performer then faces off against competitors from across Europe, with television voters again selecting the competition's most popular entry.
Three times the Eurovision champion, Israel suffered one of its worst results at the 2006 contest, placing second-to-last in the contest's deciding round. A representative for the 2007 competition will be selected by a committee of music industry professionals, with potential candidates including Harel Skaat, Ninet Tayeb, Keren Peles and Miri Mesika. - Nathan Burstein
Van Damme arrives in Tel Aviv
The Belgian action star, best known for films including Kickboxer and Bloodsport, arrived in Israel yesterday and quickly made his way to Tel Aviv, where he was greeted by friends and acquaintances. A spokesperson for the actor's hotel said he didn't know whether Van Damme had arrived to film a movie or was in Israel on personal business.
An expert in martial arts, Van Damme isn't a stranger to Israel. The Street Fighter star appeared in 2001 in The Order, in which Van Damme's character travels to Israel to track down his father, an archaeologist who mysteriously vanished after arriving in the country. The actor, who will turn 46 next week, was in the region more recently to film Sinav, a Turkish movie scheduled for release next year. - Nathan Burstein