Billboard: ‘Grease: Live!’ Freshens a Favorite With Mix of Old and New

Originally published in Billboard.


Kether Donohue, Julianne Hough, Carly Rae Jepsen and Elle McLemore during the dress rehearsal for “Grease: Live!” airing live on Jan. 31, 2016 on FOX. MICHAEL BECKER/FOX


Fox made a bold step into the live television musical arena tonight with Grease: Live!, a technically ambitious production that upped the ante set by NBC’s recent shows by adding multiple soundstages, exterior shots, and a live audience.

Unlike NBC productions including The WizGrease: Live! was based primarily on the 1978 film version of Grease, with story structure, sets, and even a significant portion of the script coming from Bronte Woodard’s screenplay (based on Allan Carr’s adaptation) rather than Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey’s script to the 1972 Broadway musical on which it was based.   Continue reading

Keshet: An Interview with Luzer Twersky: From Ultra-Orthodox to “Transparent” Star

Originally published on Keshet’s blog on

Luzer Twersky

Luzer Twersky is an actor who plays Mendel in Season Two of Amazon’s hit television show “Transparent.” He grew up in an insular Hasidic community in Brooklyn, which he left in his early 20s, with help from Footsteps, an organization that helps formerly ultra-Orthodox Jews integrate into mainstream society. He is best known for his role in the film “Félix & Meira,” which is Canada’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Oscar this year. Luzer spoke with Keshet’s David Levy last week after the first episode of “Transparent” was released.

DAVID LEVY: Let’s just start by saying congratulations on being part of “Transparent.” Have you had the opportunity to watch the finished product yet?

LUZER TWERSKY: I watched the first episode of the new season, and it’s very good. I’m very happy with it and very proud of it.

DL: I saw your name in the credits but didn’t spot you in the episode itself. I assume you’re in the German flashback?

LT: In the first episode I’m a little “blink-and-you-miss it.” These flashbacks will happen all season. You’ll see the parallel between what’s happening at the wedding with all the dancing and the craziness and what’s happening at this party filled with queers and gays and gender-fluid people, and then you see those same kind of people 100 years ago in Berlin. And you also notice that Simon, Maura’s nephew, seems to be in those scenes in Berlin. It’s all going to tie together.

And then you’ll notice at the end of the episode, when you see Ali standing on her balcony, and then you see someone next to her who we had seen dancing in that Berlin scene.  Continue reading

Camp vs. Kitsch: Battle of the Late Night Advertisements

Originally published on Camp vs. Kitsch.

It’s not a great secret that kitsch sells. But when serious minded advertisements transcend their origins into Camp, does it ultimately help the product? Thankfully, this is not the kind of blog that utilizes any sort of thoughtful examination of statistics. (But if you know of any, by all means, leave a comment.) It is, however, the kind of blog that dredges up wonderful YouTube videos so that you can vote for your favorite.

Today’s competition pits the ultimate kitschy item’s ultimate kitschy ad against a really important service that nonetheless launched a catchphase that undoubtedly sold more novelty products than subscriptions to the service. Yes folks, in the kitsch corner, we have CHIA PET, “The Pottery That Grows.” And in the camp corner, I give you LIFE CALL, complete with “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”



Now I will admit, I may be biased in part because my family actually subscribed to Life Call for my grandmother, whereas I don’t believe I ever met a real Chia Pet in the wild. Plus, I think “Chia Tree, to keep your pets company” seals the deal. However, Amy votes for Life Call, “Not for the old people (I feel bad thinking
they’re funny), but primarily for the guy who answers the call all
‘Right away, Mr. Stevenson.'”

Where do you stand?