Music Man: A Talk With Benj Pasek
By Rahel Musleah for Hadassah Magazine
As part of the award-winning songwriting team Pasek and Paul, Benj Pasek’s star has risen high this year. The duo won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “City of Stars,” from the film La La Land, and six Tony Awards (including Best Musical and Best Original Score) for Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen, the story of a high school’s reaction to a suicide. Next up, The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum, opens in movie theaters on December 25. Pasek, 32, is now working on Disney’s live-action film adaptations of the animated classics Aladdin and Snow White. A resident of Manhattan, Pasek grew up in Ardmore, Pa., and met his collaborator, Justin Paul, at the University of Michigan, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theater. His father, Jeff Pasek, is an attorney, and his mother, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, is a developmental psychologist who loves music. She was his date at the Academy Awards.
The Parashot in Watercolor
By Gabriela Geselowitz for Jewcy
Starr Weems is a Jewish teacher and artist in Alabama who’s taken on the mission of creating a piece of art for every parsha of the year. These watercolors are dreamlike and ethereal (and a little bit psychedelic), visual midrashim, of sorts.
“This project started two years ago with my personal sketchbook,” Weems told Jewcy. “I had decided to spend time studying the parsha each week and translating it into my own visual language. It was sometimes a challenge to keep up with it on top of my regular painting and illustration jobs, but I managed to get through the cycle of an entire year… I had been wanting to rework my sketchbook ideas into finished pieces for a while, and when a venue contacted me to book a spring exhibit, I decided that now is a good time.”
Straight Outta Satmar: Hear the Biggest Hasidic Hit of Right Now
By Liel Leibovitz for Tablet Magazine
Go ahead, I dare you not to dance to Meilech Kohn’s ‘Ve’Uhavtu’
Growing up, Meilech Kohn didn’t like it in the Yeshiva. He was the quiet kid who liked to daydream and hum nice tunes, and his fellow students were so miffed by his strange ways that they shunned him altogether, refusing to speak to the awkward child. Increasingly distraught, he retreated into his inner world, which was increasingly consumed by writing songs and melodies. Eventually, he decided to drop out.
Much to the chagrin of his parents, Meilech left the fold of his tightly-knit Hasidic community. He moved to Los Angeles, then Puerto Rico, then Texas. He listened to any kind of music he could find, and continued to teach himself his craft. By the time he was ready to return home and recommit himself to religious life, he contained multitudes.
Hollywood exec reveals secret of Israeli TV success abroad
By Abigail Klein Leichman for Israel21c
‘It’s the compelling characters that draw you,’ says Adam Berkowitz, who has brought shows including ‘Fauda’ and ‘Greenhouse Academy’ to the US.
Why are Israeli TV formats like “In Treatment,” “Homeland” and “Fauda” extremely successful in the United States? It’s all about the characters, says Adam Berkowitz, co-head of the television department at Creative Artists Agency (CAA) in Los Angeles and president of the international TV Formats Conference held September 12-14 in Tel Aviv.
“In Israel there isn’t a lot of money to do expensive action or adventure shows, so instead there is a focus on characters, and it’s the compelling characters that draw you,” Berkowitz tells ISRAEL21c.
7 things you didn’t know about HAIM
by Jaime Bender for FromtheGrapevine
There's much to learn about these 3 rockin' sisters from California.
Danielle, Alana and Este Haim couldn't have dreamed how their life would turn out when they were gawky teenagers jamming in their parents' living room in Southern California. The three sisters comprise one of the hottest bands right now, capped off by a recent performance on "Saturday Night Live" and the upcoming debut of their second album, "Something to Tell You." But despite all of HAIM's fanfare and praise, there's likely a lot you don't know about this talented trio. Here are some of our favorite biographical tidbits.