Pope Francis is personally organizing an all-star soccer “peace match” to promote coexistence between Israel and the Palestinians.
Argentina’s star player Lionel Messi says the pontiff has personally called him to play in the match, scheduled for September 1 in Rome.
Entitled The Match of Peace, it will take place at Rome’s acclaimed Olympic Stadium. While the entire list of all stars has yet to be announced, fellow Argentinean star Diego Maradona is also scheduled to participate.
Messi, who is the star Barcelona FC striker and UNICEF ambassador, may have been tapped due to his involvement in the Gaza crisis. Last week, the star striker posted a photo of a wounded Palestinian child from the Gaza Strip on his Facebook page, calling to end all violence affecting children in the region .
“I am terribly saddened by the images coming from the conflict between Israel and Palestine, where violence has already claimed so many young lives and to injure countless children,” Messi shared, in both English and Arabic, with his nearly 68 million Facebook followers.
Yossi Benayoun, Israel’s star player in recent years, will also participate in next month’s Rome match, as will players from Russia, Cameroon, Italy, France and Brazil.
The Pupi Foundation, a charity founded by the Argentine soccer player Javer “Pupi” Zanetti, as well as the Pontifical Academy for Social Science will host the match.
Israeli actress and model Gal Gadot, who is currently busy playing Wonder Woman on the set of “Batman v Superman,” has landed a role in a new Hollywood thriller, “Criminal,” set to be directed by Israeli-American Ariel Vromen.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Gal will be joining a list of veteran actors who have already been in the movie, including Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman and Tommy Lee Jones.
The movie also stars Ryan Reynolds,Scarlett Johansson’s ex-husband, who will play Gadot’s husband.
According to the Hollywood Report, the story centers on a dead CIA operative’s memories, secrets and skills which were implanted into a dangerous prison inmate, played by Costner, in the hopes that he will stop a diabolical plot.
The production will be led by Millennium Films, headed by Israeli producers Avi Lerner and Boaz Davidson.
Gadot recently finished filming her role in another thriller, “Triple Nine,” by Australian director John Hillcoat, which also stars Aaron Paul, Kate Winslet and Woody Harrelson.
Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924 in the Bronx, New York, the only child of Natalie Weinstein-Bacal, a secretary who later legally changed her surname to Bacall, and William Perske, who worked in sales.
Both her parents were Jewish. Her mother emigrated from Romania through Ellis Island and her father was born in New Jersey to Polish-born parents.
Bacall was proud of her Jewish heritage and said “I love being Jewish, I have no problem with it at all. But it did become like a scar, with all these people saying you don’t look it”
Bacall was a movie star from almost her first moment on the silver screen.
A fashion model and bit-part New York actress before moving to Hollywood at 19, Bacall achieved immediate fame in 1944 with one scene in her first film, “To Have and Have Not.” Leaving Humphrey Bogart’s hotel room, Bacall – a lanky figure with flowing blond hair and a stunning face – murmured:
“You don’t have to say anything, and you don’t have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.”
With that cool, sultry come-on, not only was a star born, but the beginning of a legend, her title burnished over the years with pivotal roles, signature New York wit, and a marriage to Bogart that accounted for one of the most famous Hollywood couples of all time.
The Academy-Award nominated actress received two Tonys, an honorary Oscar and scores of film and TV roles. But, to her occasional frustration, she was remembered for her years with Bogart and treated more as a star by the film industry than as an actress. Bacall would outlive her husband by more than 50 years, but never outlive their iconic status.
They were “Bogie and Bacall” – the hard-boiled couple who could fight and make up with the best of them. Unlike Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, Bogart and Bacall were not a story of opposites attracting but of kindred, smoldering spirits. She was less than half Bogart’s age, yet as wise, and as jaded as he was. They starred in movies like “Key Largo” and “Dark Passage” together, threw all-night parties, palled around with Frank Sinatra and others and formed a gang of California carousers known as the Holmby Hills Rat Pack, which Sinatra would resurrect after Bogart’s death.
She appeared in movies for more than a half-century, but none brought her the attention of her early pictures.
Not until 1996 did she receive an Academy Award nomination — as supporting actress for her role as Barbra Streisand’s mother in “The Mirror Has Two Faces.” Although a sentimental favorite, she was beaten by Juliette Binoche for her performance in “The English Patient.”
She finally got a statuette in November 2009 at the movie academy’s Governors Awards gala.
“The thought when I get home that I’m going to have a two-legged man in my room is so exciting,” she quipped.
Her persona paralleled her screen appearances: She was blunt, with a noirish undertone of sardonic humor that illuminated her 1979 autobiography, “By Myself” (she published an updated version in 2005, “By Myself and Then Some.”)
Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske in the Bronx on Sept. 16, 1924 to Jewish parents Natalie Weinstein-Bacal and William Perske. Her Romanian-born mother gave her the name Bacal after her parents divorced when she was five. She added the second ‘l’ when she became an actress.
“My childhood is a confusion,” Bacall wrote in “By Myself,” which made Bacall one of the rare celebrity authors to win a National Book Award. She told of nightmares over the arguments of her parents, of her mother’s struggle to earn a living, of being sent off to boarding school.
As a young woman, Diana Vreeland, the famed editor of Harper’s Bazaar, thought she was ideal for fashion modeling, and Bacall appeared regularly in the magazine. The wife of film director Howard Hawks saw her on a magazine cover and recommended her as film material, and she went to Hollywood under a contract.
Hawks became her mentor, coaching her on film acting and introducing her to Hollywood society. He was preparing a movie to star Bogart, based on an Ernest Hemingway story, “To Have and Have Not,” with a script partly written by William Faulkner.
By this time she had acquired the professional name of Lauren, though Bogart and all her friends continued to call her Betty.
In “By Myself,” she wrote of meeting Bogart: “There was no thunderbolt, no clap of thunder, just a simple how-do-you-do.”
“By the end of the third or fourth take,” she wrote in “By Myself,” ”I realized that one way to hold my trembling head still was to keep it down, chin almost to my chest and eyes up at Bogart. It worked, and turned out to be the beginning of ‘The Look.’ ”
Work led to romance. The 23-year age difference (he called her “Baby”) failed to deter them, but they faced a serious obstacle: Bogart was still married to the mercurial actress Mayo Methot, with whom he engaged in much-publicized alcoholic battles. She was persuaded to divorce him, and the lovers were married on May 21, 1945.
“When I married Bogie,” she remarked in a 1994 interview, “I agreed to put my career second, because he wouldn’t marry me otherwise. He’d had three failed marriages to actresses, and he was not about to have another.”
Still, she appeared in a few films without Bogart: “Confidential Agent” (with Charles Boyer) “Young Man with a Horn,” (Kirk Douglas) and “How to Marry a Millionaire,” with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable.
She had son Stephen in 1949 and daughter Leslie in 1952. She also became active politically, joining her husband in protesting the Hollywood blacklist of suspected Communists and campaigning for Democrats. Few could forget the picture of her slouched on top of a piano, long legs dangling, while Harry Truman — then vice president — was seated in front of the keys.
But the party began to wind down in March 1956, when Bogart was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. On the night of Jan. 14, 1957, Bogart grabbed his wife’s arm and muttered, “Goodbye, kid.” He died in the early morning at the age of 57.
After a period of mourning, Bacall became romantically involved with Sinatra. When an “engagement” was mistakenly leaked by press agent “Swifty” Lazar,” the singer blamed her, and he terminated the romance.
“Actually, Frank did me a great favor — he saved me from the disaster our marriage would have been,” she wrote in “By Myself.”
Still mourning for Bogart, Bacall left Hollywood in October 1958. She made a film in England, and did a critically panned play that was significant because she would meet her second husband during her time on Broadway: Jason Robards Jr. He was similar to Bogart in that he was an accomplished actor, hard drinker — and married. After Robards was divorced from his second wife, he and Bacall married in 1961 but Robards’ drinking and extramarital affairs resulted in divorce in 1969.
“Applause” in 1970 and “Woman of the Year” in 1981 brought Bacall Tony awards. Among her later movies: “Murder on the Orient Express,” ”The Shootist” and Robert Altman’s “Ready to Wear.” She played Nicole Kidman’s mother in the 2004 film “Birth,” and in recent years appeared as herself in a cameo for “The Sopranos.”
For decades she lived in Manhattan’s venerable Dakota, where neighbors included John Lennon and Yoko Ono. She was ever protective of the Bogart legacy, lashing out at those who tried to profit from his image.
Bacall became friends with Faulkner when he was writing scripts for Hawks. One of her prized possessions was a copy of Faulkner’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech on which he wrote that she was not one who was satisfied with being just a pretty face, “but rather who decided to prevail.”
“Notice he didn’t write ‘survive,’ ” she told Parade magazine in 1997. “Everyone’s a survivor. Everyone wants to stay alive. What’s the alternative? See, I prefer to prevail.”
Legendary Israeli film producer and director Menahem Golan passed away Friday at the age of 85. Golan is an Israel Prize laureate for his contribution to Israeli cinema and held a central role in Hollywood in the 80s.
Together with his cousin Yoram Globus, Golan headed Cannon Group, a successful production company that produced films such as Delta Force and was instrumental in launching the careers of Charles Bronson and Chuck Noris.
Inside Israel, Golan is known for directing such films as,”Operation Thunderbolt,” a movie about the dramatic operation Israeli forces conducted in Uganda to save a high jacked plane of Israelis. The movie earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1978.
In the film, Israeli singer Yoram Goan portrays the character based on Yoni (Yonathan) Netanyahu, the brother of Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu, who was killed in the real-world operation. The movies insipred neurmous spinoff, a large portion of which were produced by Golan.
He is also known for his quick and at time cheap production methods, infamously filming his films in both English and Hebrew. “Golan is the only person who can film an hour and a half film in an hour and 15 minutes,” a popular satire TV program once joked about Golan.
“Golan is the type of person you only work with once,” said Lou Lenart, a pilot turned film producer who shot “Thunderbolt” with Golan.
In the 10 years they led the Cannon company, the duo produced hundreds of films, mostly action and fantasy movies, and nurtured action stars like Chuck Norris, Sylvester Stallone and Michael Dudikoff.
The hits their company distributed included “The Delta Force,” “American Ninja,” “Missing in Action,” “Kickboxer” and “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” as well as the failed superhero movies “Superman IV” and “Captain America.”
Earlier this year, a film about the two called “The Go-Go Boys,” directed by Hilla Medalia, was screened at Cannes. The move tells the inside story of the two top Israeli producers and cousins, who grabbed a nice market share in the Hollywood market with Cannon Films, the company they founded in the 1980s and abandoned in 1989.
“The Go-Go Boys” looks into the complex relationship between the two men who went through many ups and downs while working together and shared a relationship filled with contradictions, which eventually led to a split.
The documentary includes archive footage from their film productions as well as interviews with leading figures from the world of cinema in Israel and in the United States, including actors Sylvester Stallone, Jon Voight and Charles Bronson.
Musician David Broza had to cancel his annual Masada concert because of Operation Protective Edge and the security risk posed to large crowds from rocket fire, but he did not let that stop him on Sunday morning when he decided to perform the show – even if it meant he did not have an audience to perform it to.
Broza’s show on Masada, that has turned into a Tu B’Av (Jewish holiday of love) tradition, was instead broadcast live on Ynet so that anyone, anywhere, could watch it. And if you’re not the type of person to wake up at five in the morning, fear not! We have the entire show up for you to stream and enjoy!
He opened the show with his hit song “Sigaliot” (“Violets”) and ended with the traditional show-wrapper “Veyihyeh Tov” (“Things Will Get Better”), expressing the hope for better, quieter days.
“The security situation doesn’t allow large gatherings and a lot of people are anxious about the situation,” Broza told Ynet. “I’m not giving up after 21 years – so I decided to broadcast this wonderful sunrise directly to the audience, wherever they are – in Israel and worldwide – in the hopes it’ll be touching, and gives some of Tu B’Av to the lovers.”
Broza performed many songs from his long-career, among them “Shir Ahava Bedoui” (“Bedouin Love Song”), “Haisha Sheiti” (“The Woman By My Side”), “Daniela,” “Mitachat LaShamayim” (“Under the Sky”), “It’s All or Nothing,” among many others. He was joined by American singer-songwriter Steve Earle, and accompanied by Alon Nadel on bass and Gadi Seri on percussion.
Voight directed his anger at colleagues Penélope Cruz and her husband Javier Bardem, who signed the letter, saying that they should “hang their heads in shame, come forth with deep regrets for what they did, and ask forgiveness from the suffering people in Israel.”
Voight, the father of Hollywood star Angelina Jolie and an ardent supporter of Israel, decided to respond to the scathing letter in a guest column he wrote for The Hollywood Reporter.
“My name is Jon Voight and I am more than angry, I am heartsick that people like Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem could incite anti-Semitism all over the world and are oblivious to the damage they have caused,” he wrote.
Penélope Cruz with husband Javier Bardem.
‘My only wish is that there will be peace both in Israel and Gaza’ (Photo: Reuters)
In their letter, the Spanish entertainment industry representatives called on the European Union to “condemn the bombing by land, sea and air against the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip.”
They also blamed Israel for the new round of violence in the Middle East and criticized the Jewish state for “continuing to advance into and invade the Palestinian territories instead of returning to the 1967 borders.”
In his response, Voight reviewed the historical circumstances of the State of Israel’s establishment, which he said Cruz and Bardem were “obviously ignorant of, ” including the Arab rejection of the UN Partition Plane for Palestine and the Arab countries’ attack in the War of Independence, as well as the sneak attack during the Yom Kippur holiday in 1973.
He added that Israel voluntarily gave the Palestinians all of the Gaza Strip as a peace gesture. ” What was the response?” he wrote. “The Palestinians elected Hamas, a terrorist organization, and they immediately began firing thousands of rockets into Israel.”
According to Voight, “After years of trying to make peace, the wars they had to fight, being attacked by their enemies, and still being attacked, and finally after years of running into bomb shelters and having hundreds of civilians killed by suicide bombers, civilians being killed in their sleep, stabbed to pieces, finding enough is enough and finally retaliating, instead of my peers sticking up for the only democratic country in that region, they go and take out poison letters against them.”
Even before Voight’s harsh response, Penélope Cruz attempted to clarify why she had signed the letter. “I don’t want to be misunderstood on this important subject. I’m not an expert on the situation and I’m aware of the complexity of it,” the Spanish actress said in a statement to USA Today.
“My only wish and intention in signing that group letter is the hope that there will be peace in both Israel and Gaza. I am hopeful all parties can agree to a cease fire and there are no more innocent victims on either side of the border. I wish for unity, and peace… I believe in a civilization that can be capable of bringing the courage to have a world where humans can live side by side.”