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Ben Stiller in a still from his new film "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty."

Stiller's Western Wall romancing

NEW YORK (JTA)-Ben Stiller revealed to Parade magazine that he has some fond memories from visiting Israel as a teen.

The actor and director, promoting his new movie, recalled that at 16 he took a father-son bonding trip to Israel with his father, comedian Jerry Stiller, and found himself in a romantic dalliance there.

"I met a girl on that trip and we had a whirlwind romance," Stiller told Parade. "Is it blasphemous to say we ended up making out near the Western Wall? It might be. But we did... It was one of those times you don't ever forget."

Stiller has returned to Israel several times since then, Ynet reports.

Gal Gadot on Wonder Woman casting

Gal Gadot, the Israeli supermodel recently cast as Wonder Woman in the upcoming movie "Man of Steel," opened up on an Israeli talk show about her new role.

The slender Gadot has received significant criticism from Wonder Woman fans about her physique. Some claim she is too thin and too flat-chested to properly embody the iconic superheroine.

"I represent the Wonder Woman of the new world," she told the Israeli program "Good Evening with Guy Pines." "Breasts... anyone can buy for 9,000 shekels and everything is fine."

Gadot also delved into her character's back story. In her comic book incarnation, Wonder Woman's secret identity is Princess Diana of Themyscira, a princess of the Amazons, a fierce race of warrior women who lived near the Don River in contemporary Russia. In some iterations of the myth, Amazons cut off their right breasts in order to throw their javelins with greater accuracy-a fact Gadot picked up on in her interview.

"By the way, Wonder Woman is Amazonian, and historically accurate Amazonian women actually had only one breast. So, if I'd really go 'by the book'... it'd be problematic," Gadot said.

She added that she plans to work out with weights in order to gain the extra muscle required for the role.

From 'Nanny' to wicked stepmother

Fran Drescher, best known for playing the down-to-earth Fran Fine in "The Nanny," is bringing her talents to Broadway, where she'll be playing Cinderella's stepmother.

The 10-week engagement, starting Feb. 4, will allow Drescher to exercise her comic talents in an unusual milieu for the TV star. Still, there's no doubt Drescher will be able to project in the theater, with her trademark soaring nasal twang.

And who's to say Drescher won't shine in a story about kings, princes and fairy godmothers? After all, she is from Queens.

Mel Brooks: There's no 'solely Jewish humor' anymore

Mel Brooks, the 87-year-old reigning king of Jewish humor, told BuzzFeed Tuesday that comedy has become increasingly universal.

The distinction between Jewish and secular comedy is a thing of the past, Brooks explained.

"Twenty-five years ago, sure, yes, absolutely," he told Buzzfeed. "Today, it's the same education, same newspapers, leading now to TV, leading to the Internet. I think [humor is] all the same now."

Brooks also revealed that he regularly gets letters from rabbis and offers them advice about humor in return. Jokes, according to Brooks, are more unforgettable than your average sermon.

Certainly when it comes to the legendary writer/director of "Robin Hood: Men in Tights," "The Producers" and "Spaceballs," unforgettable is the word.

David Mamet to tackle the seven deadly sins for Fox

David Mamet has signed a contract with Fox to develop a seven-hour series based on the Christian concept of the seven deadly sins, Variety reports.

The two-time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright has agreed to write and direct the first episode and write at least two subsequent segments.

Mamet is no stranger to biblical material. In fact, he once co-authored a commentary on the Torah titled "Five Cities of Refuge: Weekly Reflections on Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy" (2004) with Rabbi Lawrence Kushner. And though the series focuses on Christian concepts of sin (the seven deadly sins originated with a fourth-century Greek monk, later popularized by the likes of Dante Alighieri and Thomas Aquinas), the playwright has often trafficked in humanity's darker motivations.

Arguably Mamet's most famous work, "Glengarry Glen Ross," a brutally frank portrayal of the lives of Chicago real estate agents, has plenty to say about greed. In fact, some of the play's characters embrace greed as a virtue. An early scene in the movie version features a young Alec Baldwin whipping real estate salesmen into a frenzy and showing off a Rolex.

However he winds up approaching the seven deadly sins, it's certain that Mamet, author of some 35 plays in addition to his books, movies and films, can't be accused of sloth.

For the latest Jewish celebrity news, visit JTA's 6 Degrees (no Bacon) blog.

 

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