Doja Cat attends the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards broadcast on Aug. 30, 2020. (Photo/JTA-Frazer Harrison-Getty Images for RCA)
Doja Cat attends the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards broadcast on Aug. 30, 2020. (Photo/JTA-Frazer Harrison-Getty Images for RCA)

Itzhak Perlman is 75; Jake Gyllenhaal teams up with Russ & Daughters; Leonard Cohen’s estate objects to RNC; and more

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Always thank your mother

Singer and rapper Doja Cat, who rose to fame in 2018 with her self-made sing “Mooo!” (lyrics NSFW, more or less), won best new artist at the recent MTV Video Music Awards. She ended her acceptance speech with a thank you to her Jewish mother, a painter, who raised her.

English actor Jason Isaacs, who was raised in Liverpool in a tightly knit Jewish community, said that after many years as an addict, he now thinks about his mother and what he learned from her about how important it is to give back. “When you are of service, it fills a void in you that nothing else can ever touch,” he said in a recent interview. The “Harry Potter” and “Star Trek: Discovery” actor has also talked openly in the past about the antisemitism he encountered as a teen.

Happy birthday, Itzhak

Itzhak Perlman is 75. The extrovert maestro would normally be celebrating his Aug. 31 birthday with concerts, but this year he’s stuck at home. Still, he’s cheerful. “I still remember when we were young and were with some friends, and they were discussing what is old age. People were saying: 30 is old! It’s all a question of relative to what,” he said.

New film on composer’s “gravity-defying” career

Stephen Schwartz is the composer and lyricist behind favorite musicals such as “The Prince of Egypt,” “Godspell,” “Wicked” and “Pocahontas.” Now the 72-year-old Oscar, Tony and Grammy winner will, for a change, be in front of the camera as the subject of a new documentary about his life and work.

Respect the lox

Jake Gyllenhaal has collaborated with iconic appetizing store Russ & Daughters in New York City on a T-shirt — a special lox-colored, tie-dyed version of the store’s own merch. The shop was founded by immigrant Joel Russ in 1914 and has been its current location since 1920, and is selling the shirt to benefit the Independent Restaurant Coalition (formed during the pandemic to help save restaurants). The 39-year-old actor popularized the shirt while doing a social media challenge and the first batch sold out in a week. Will the delicacy come back in stock?

Never give up

Who is Michael Bloomstein and why would anyone want to make a movie about his life? That’s just the point, said writer and actor David Meyers, who stars in the web mockumentary about the hapless Bloomstein. “Bloomywood” follows the fictional character as he traipses around Los Angeles looking for help in making his film, his unremitting optimism admitting no chance of failure. Check it out on YouTube at; a new episode is scheduled for every Wednesday.

Canadian Buddhist Jewish music goes political

The Republican National Convention asked the estate of Leonard Cohen for permission to use his hit song “Hallelujah” during its broadcast, but was rejected, reps for the rights-holders said. The song was still used, though — twice. Two covers of the song played during a fireworks display at the end of President Trump’s speech as he officially accepted the nomination. Legal counsel for Cohen’s estate has issued a rebuke of the use of the song.

Maya Mirsky
Maya Mirsky

Maya Mirsky is a J. Staff Writer based in Oakland.