Thursday, July 24, 2014

Showtime's Homeland shifts focus

After three wildly successful seasons, the Showtime U.S. cable hit series Homeland, centred around a CIA counter-terrorism agent, is moving on to a brand new chapter.

Based on an Israeli program with a similar premise, what started as a race against time to find an American who had been turned against his own country and posed a threat to national security will change direction and location for season 4 to Pakistan.

CIA field agent and chief analyst Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), who is now station chief in Pakistan, will focus her attention on threats overseas, but she'll still seek the aid of her mentor, Saul Berenson, played by Mandy Patinkin. He'll provide assistance from his new position in the private sector and will undoubtedly continue to play a major role in Mathison's operations.

From pre-season press, we can tell you that while Damien Lewis' character Nicholas Brody may have a cameo in one of Carrie's flashbacks or dream sequences, that key Homeland storyline seems to have entirely run its course.

Sound off on your expectations, hopes or trepidations for season 4, which begins Oct. 5 on Showtime.

Monday, July 21, 2014

BBT star advocates for religious tolerance

Mayim Bialik isn't afraid to take a stand.

She's well known for her alternative parenting style and her accomplished acting career – from the 90s hit television show Blossom and more recently for her portrayal of Dr. Sheldon Cooper's girlfriend Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on the CBS hit comedy The Big Bang Theory.

But Bialik, who is Orthodox, is also known for her love of Judaism.

She took to her official Facebook page over the weekend to confront deniers of Israel's right to exist and in defence of fellow Jewish celebrities in Hollywood who have been bullied by social media commentators.

"If you hate me for being Jewish or a supporter of the right of Israel to exist, kindly post on pages that support your opinions rather than trying to bully me and other people who are Jewish. I'm sorry there is so much hatred and miseducation, but we won't fix it by name-calling Jewish celebrities, I promise. God bless America for letting us have our own opinions, and God bless Israel for allowing Jews to have a home. I pray for a peaceful state for Palestinians who also seek peace and want to pursue it. Not sure there is more to say."

Bialik clearly loves her work, loves all people and truly wishes we could all get along.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Drake spoofs Manny Pacquiao at the ESPY Awards

In addition to being a hip-hop sensation, Toronto's own Drake has also come to be known for his celebrity spoofs on NBC's still popular late-night television show Saturday Night Live.

Once again, Drake spoofed boxer Manny Pacquiao, this time July 16 at the 2014 ESPY Awards, which honours athletic performances in professional sports.

In a a pre-recorded short, Drake sang a rendition of Disney's Frozen hit Let It Go while in character as Pacquiao, who has also dabbled in a music career.

Take a look.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Rocket fire forces TV show to flee to Turkey

The production of Tyrant is leaving Tel Aviv because of the ongoing rocket fire in Israel.

The television drama, which was co-created by Israeli writer Gideon Raff, will move its operations to Istanbul, Turkey, Variety reported July 16.

Air raid sirens and ongoing rocket fire from Gaza have disrupted the production, and members of the cast and crew have posted on social media about the stresses of running to bomb shelters.

The show’s producers reportedly hope to return the production to Israel if the situation allows it.

Tyrant, which airs on the American cable network FX, is set in the fictional Middle Eastern country of Abbudin.

Meanwhile, executives of the USA NetworkDig, which had been filming in and around Jerusalem, are waiting to determine their next move, according to a report  in TV Guide.

The show delayed its return to shooting from a hiatus because of the current violence. The break was to be extended by several days.

 Dig, which also was created by Raff,  was on hiatus when Operation Protective Edge began.

 “Our first priority is the safety of our cast and crew,” said a statement from Universal Cable Productions, according to TV Guide. “We will continue to assess the situation and plan accordingly.”


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Challah of a different sort, with a little summer flare

Summer Pesto Gruyere stuffed challah
Of all the bakeries and grocery stores I've ever been to – and I've visited my fair share both at home and abroad – I've never seen a stuffed challah sold anywhere other than in Israel.

Of course, if you're making challah at home, you can toss all sorts of ingredients inside the braided or knotted dough, or you can embellish the outside of your loaf with cinnamon sugar, chocolate chips, etc.

But here in Toronto, I can't say I've ever seen a store be so bold as to sell artisan-like offerings such as Summer Pesto Gruyere stuffed Challah, as featured by My Jewish Leaning's The Nosher blog.

Feel free to share your filling ideas for a most delectable Shabbat challah here, and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

New career path for Tom a dancing rabbi?

When thinking of hiring entertainment for your wedding reception, would you ever conceive this in your wildest imagination? Music manager Scooter Braun, who runs the Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen camps, tied the knot in a weekend ceremony. During the wedding reception an impromptu dance party broke out on the reception floor.

Bieber then recorded Tom Hanks looking much like a rabbi, donning a white kippah, and a tallit draped over his shoulders while busting a move to Montell Jordan’s 1995 jam, “This Is How We Do It”. If you’re slightly confused by everything that’s happening in the video, fear not — we’re right there with you.

Give Hanks a beard and he's Tevya performing Fiddler on the Roof's "If I Were A Rich Man" to the instrumentals of this R&B classic track.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Jay Baruchel returns to the small screen in 2015

Yet another performance of Canadian actor and comedian Jay Baruchel is amassing high praise and fan attention. He's the voice of Hiccup in the How to Train Your Dragon franchise, has had roles in numerous works alongside longtime friend Seth Rogen, and will return to the small screen in 2015 for a 10- episode comedy series called Man Seeking Woman.

Based on The Last Girlfriend on Earth, a book of short stories written by Simon Rich of Saturday Night Live, the series is described as a "sweet and absurd look at the surreal life and death stakes of dating." The pilot episode shot in Toronto and executive produced by Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels is scheduled to air in the US and presumably in Canada as well on FXX and FXX Canada.

Baruchel has had quite the year in 2014 starring thus far in the Robocop reboot and lending his voice once again to Hiccup in the recently released Dragon sequel.