Just after the rockets stopped falling on Sderot, Ashdod and Tel Aviv last November, another bomb exploded a week later in Hollywood. Judging from Twitter the day after its premiere, the Lifetime made-for-TV movie “Liz and Dick,” starring Lindsay Lohan as screen legend Elizabeth Taylor, felt as urgent, significant and tragic as the war in Gaza.
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Lohan is the successful child star who segued into teen hits and looked poised for a pretty decent career until she suddenly took a detour and became America’s Favorite Train Wreck, imploding spectacularly in full public view and with half a dozen mug shots to prove it. The Liz Taylor role was supposed to be her comeback, embodying the serious, complicated and glamorous actress she herself hoped to be.
Instead, it was a belly flop of epic proportions, one of the most maligned performances of the year, with critics and audiences seeming to take delicious pleasure it its total failure. Lohan was reportedly devastated by the reviews. But that hasn’t stopped her from continuing her quest to channel the Elizabeth Taylor deep inside her.
Last week was the anniversary of Taylor’s conversion to Judaism, at age 27. In an effort to hold onto Taylor's spirit, or perhaps to convince the skeptical public that she really can portray the Hollywood icon, Lohan announced her conversion to Judaism today, to take effect this July when Lohan herself turns 27.
Perhaps in preparation for the big switch, last week Lohan was caught smooching with the new guy in her life, Avi Snow, an American-Israeli musician, who has since confirmed his relationship with the actress. Snow is the second Israeli to be romantically linked to Lohan, after Eilat Anschel in 2010.
Taylor famously took a Hebrew name after her conversion – Elisheba Rachel. A source close to Lohan said she really wanted to be Esther but, "Madonna took it first... which is kinda unfair because Madonna never officially converted." Other names reportedly in consideration are Naomi Ruth ("Lindsay was inspired by the Biblical girl-girl love," said the source) and Jezebel ("Because she thinks it sounds fetch").
The rabbi overseeing the conversion, who wishes to remain anonymous, says that after working with Lohan for nine months to understand various Jewish teachings, he ultimately threw up his hands and told her to "just stand on one foot and let's get it over with."
He also had this to add: "Happy April Fool's Day."
The Little Mermaid, the Ugly Duckling and the Israeli choreographer
Recently, a few Israelis found themselves in a very strange land – a land of fairy tales, kings and queens and temperatures that hovered around zero degrees Celsius. They had arrived in Denmark for the Sixth Annual Copenhagen International Choreography Competition, of which they were among 10 finalists.
The event, which took place last Friday, was held at the Staerekassen Theater, an art deco space attached to the older, more elegant, Royal Theater in the center of the Danish capital. Both sit on one side of Kongs NyTorv, a lush square, at the center of which is a dramatic equestrian statue of Christian V, a 17th century Danish king. On another side of the square is Nyhavn, a storybook harbor of narrow buildings in a spectrum of bright pastels that author and poet Hans Christian Andersen, the man who gave us The Little Mermaid, Ugly Duckling and The Emperor’s New Clothes, called home for 18 years.
Israelis Shlomit Fundaminsky and Sharon Vazanna, whose work is regularly presented and acclaimed in Tel Aviv, and Sagi Gross, Israeli-born but Netherlands-based, presented their work in front of a panel of judges hailing from top dance companies around Europe in pursuit of a first place prize worth approximately NIS 19,000 (a video of Gross' entry this year can be found below).
Israelis have a successful history at the competition, which was founded in 2008 by Cedric Lambrette and Constantine Baecher (current and former members of the Royal Danish Ballet, respectively) to discover and promote emerging contemporary dance choreographers from around the world.
"Taken as a whole, Israeli choreography has a distinct voice compared to concert dance from other countries," said Baecher. "The applications we receive at CICC from Israel are often more emotionally raw than those from Europe, Asia, or America. This trend in Israeli choreography to not shy away from emotion often gives the works an immediacy."
In 2009, the event's second year, Israeli Eldad Ben Sasson grabbed the top spot; last year's champ, Roy Assaf, also hailed from the Holy Land. This year, Bryan Arias from the United States was ultimately crowned the winner and none of the sabras managed to crack the top three.
Still, considering the disproportionate visibility of Israeli choreographers since the competition's inception, it's not a bad track record from the little country that could – dance, that is.
(P.S. All the dance stuff is true).