Connect with us


‘Spinning Gold’ movie departs from Hollywood stereotypes about Jewish music producers

(JTA) — In the hit show “The Sopranos,” veteran actor Jerry Adler plays mob-adjacent Jewish businessman Hesh Rabkin, who made a fortune in the music business decades earlier. In a first season episode, Hesh is confronted by a rapper seeking “reparations” for a late Black musician who he says Rabkin didn’t pay fairly for a hit record.

When Hesh responds by bragging that he wrote the hit songs he worked on back in the day, Tony Soprano corrects him: “A couple of Black kids wrote that record, you gave yourself co-writing credit because you owned the label.”

The greedy Jewish music mogul has been a common trope, from the acclaimed work of Spike Lee to the rants of Kanye West. “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story,” a 2003 parody of music biopics, made fun of the trope itself by making the record executives into Hasidic Jews, led by Harold Ramis. (They were depicted as friendly and not so greedy, and the film’s writers, Judd Apatow and director Jake Kasdan, are both Jewish.)

The new movie “Spinning Gold,” which opened in theaters last week, tells the real-life story of Neil Bogart, the founder of Casablanca Records and a top music executive of the 1970s. It breaks from the mold of most other music biopics in a couple of key ways: The protagonist is a music executive, not an artist or a group, and the music mogul character — in this case, another Jewish one — is not treated as a villain.

The Jewish Brooklyn native whose given name was Neil Scott Bogatz helped promote bubblegum pop and early disco, signing artists such as Donna Summer, Gladys Knight, Cher and the Village People. A notable rock signing was Kiss. In one scene of “Spinning Gold,” the Bogart character (played by Jewish actor Jeremy Jordan, who starred in the Broadway hit “Rock of Ages”) implies to Kiss’ Gene Simmons that he signed the band, in part, because Simmons’ and guitarist Paul Stanley’s real names are Chaim Witz and Stanley Eisen. He relates to them, the film argues, as fellow Jewish guys who hailed from the outer boroughs of New York City. Bogart died of cancer in 1982. 

The movie covers a long span in Bogart’s life and career, and it shows him struggling for many years before striking gold by shepherding Donna Summer’s single “Love to Love You Baby” to hit status. Timothy Scott Bogart, the mogul’s son and the film’s director, did not want to depict Bogart as an unambiguous hero. In the story, the elder Bogart is shown cheating on his first wife with the woman who would become his second, and the film also makes clear that his record label was heavily in debt for many years. It does sometimes show him at odds with the talent, such as when the members of Kiss complain to him that their career hasn’t taken under Bogart’s tutelage. 

“I don’t know that I looked at it as protagonist or antagonist, I think he was a bit of both,” Timothy Scott Bogart told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 

“But I do think the character of the executive, in general, has been a much-maligned character… certainly in the music biopic world,” he added. “And that’s not who Neil Bogart was.” 

He added that the personal relationships between his father and the label’s artists were always valued. He remembers his family going on vacation with Donna Summer, and Gladys Knight and members of Kiss being at his home. 

The younger Bogart, who previously produced the 2019 Vietnam War drama “The Last Full Measure,” said that rather than relying on any book or article, he constructed the film based on interviews he did with his artists, executives and others involved in the story over several years. 

Jews have been part of the business side of the American music industry for most of its existence, in part because of the way they were shut out of many professions in the first half of the 20th century. Music executive Seymour Stein, who passed away this week after a long career of working with the likes of Madonna and The Ramones, said in a 2013 interview that “music is something Jews were good at and they could do. All immigrants into America tried their hand at show-business.”

Some executives in the early days of the music industry — Jewish and non-Jewish — did exploit their artists, doing everything from underpaying Black artists to denying them songwriting credits or royalties. Moguls of the past with reputations for doing so included Herman Lubinsky of Savoy Records. Others, like the recently deceased Stein and Milt Gabler of Commodore Records, had better reputations. Historians have differing opinions on specific individuals. 

Neil Bogart is shown with The Isley Brothers in June 1969. (Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

“There is a scholarly controversy between those who look at the moguls and say that they exploited the [Black] musicians and those who say that they encouraged and made possible Black success in music,” said Jonathan Sarna, the professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University. “Both use the same data, but some point to the money Jews made and others point to the musicians that Jews discovered and promoted.”

Spike Lee drew fire for his depiction of fictional Jewish music executives Moe and Josh Flatbush (played by John and Nicholas Turturro) in his 1990 movie “Mo’ Better Blues.” 

“In the history of American music, there have not been Jewish people exploiting black musicians?” Spike Lee said in his defense to New York Magazine in 2006. “In the history of music? How is that being stereotypical?”

Other “bad guy” examples include Paul Giamatti’s Jerry Heller in 2015’s “Straight Outta Compton” and David Krumholtz’s Milt Shaw in 2004’s “Ray.” “Cadillac Records,” from 2008, starred Adrien Brody as Leonard Chess, the Jewish founder of the legendary Chess Records who, the film implied, gave his mostly Black artists Cadillacs, but not always the money they were owed. “Get On Up,” the 2014 biopic of James Brown that starred the late Chadwick Boseman, cast Fred Melamed as famed Cincinnati mogul Syd Nathan (a mentor to Seymour Stein); journalist RJ Smith criticized the film for depicting Nathan as a “bumptious racist.”

Actor Seth Rogen discussed the trope in his 2021 memoir “Yearbook.” He tells the story of running into comedian Eddie Griffin, who at a late point in his career had been struggling to get movie roles. Griffin told Rogen to “tell your Jews to let other people make some movies!” 

Rogen called this “insane because he’s really ignoring the fact that if there’s one thing that Jewish people are NOT above, it’s making money producing things that are fronted by Black people. Anyone who’s ever seen a biopic of any Black musician knows the character I’m talking about, and he’s usually very appropriately played by my dear friend David Krumholtz.” (Krumholtz played one of the Hasidic producers in “Walk Hard.”)

“It’s certainly true that, in the post-war U.S. music industry, Jews were more likely to be producers and impresarios than performers. And, given the importance of African-Americans in the post-war U.S. music industry, that inevitably created a particular kind of relationship with certain Jews in the music industry,” sociologist and music critic Keith Kahn-Harris told JTA.

“That relationship starts to be put under scrutiny and under strain from the late 1960s, as the civil rights coalition started to fall apart and people of color began to assert their agency,” he added. “It’s also true that the post-war music industry was an unregulated space with an almost-normative pattern of exploitation of performers. Put all that together and you have all the ingredients for significant African-American-Jewish tension. Plus, the rapacious Jewish impresario sits easily with ingrained antisemitic stereotypes.” 

“Spinning Gold” isn’t the only counterexample to the trend in film. In last year’s Whitney Houston biopic “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” the Jewish label honcho character, Clive Davis (played by Stanley Tucci), is treated as a benevolent guiding light. In that case, Davis was among the producers of the movie.

“Jewish promoters, like all music promoters, were and are first and foremost business people selling a product. Their goal: promote a performer to reap income. The performers have obviously a different stake in the transaction, although both depend on the other,” said Hasia Diner, an American Jewish history professor at New York University.

“If the hero of the film is the performer then her/his perspective is the focus and almost by definition the promoter’s perspective has to reflect the antagonist encounter. Does that merit being called antisemitism? Not in my estimation. By doing so it undermines real antisemitism. It also ignores the inherent business transaction involved,” Diner said.

How can filmmakers navigate this? 

“With great care,” Kahn-Harris said. “It does mean paying attention to how such a portrayal can be accurate and not feeding on deeper antisemitic stereotypes. There’s no one way of doing this. It requires care and attention to the historical record.” 

The post ‘Spinning Gold’ movie departs from Hollywood stereotypes about Jewish music producers appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply


Canada’s economic growth projected to be about 1% in the first half of 2024

Canada is a country with a thriving Jewish community and has traditionally offered the security of a strong economy for residents. The national economic outlook is naturally something that everyone in Canada’s Jewish community keeps track of – especially those involved in business in the various provinces.

With this in mind, the July 2023 Monetary Policy Report from the Bank of Canada made for interesting reading, projecting a moderate economic growth figure of around 1% for the first half of 2024. This is in line with growth figures that had been forecast for the second half of 2023, and sees the country’s economy remain on a stable footing.

Steady projected growth for first half of 2024

Although projected economic growth of around 1% in early 2024 is not as impressive as figures of around 3.4% in 2022 and 1.8% in 2023, it is certainly no cause for alarm. But what might be behind it?

Higher interest rates are one major factor to consider and have had a negative impact on household spending nationally. This has effectively seen people with less spending power and businesses in Canada generating less revenue as a result.

Interest rate rises have also hit business investments nationally, and less money is being channelled into this area to fuel Canada’s economic growth. When you also factor in how the weak foreign demand for Canadian goods and services has hit export growth lately, the projected GDP growth figure for early 2024 is understandable.

Growth in second half of 2024 expected

Although the above may make for interesting reading for early 2024, the Bank of Canada’s report does show that economic growth is expected to pick up in the second half of the year. This is projected to be due to the decreasing effect of high interest rates on the Canadian economy and a stronger foreign demand for the country’s exports.

Moving forward from this period, it is predicted that inflation will remain at around 3% as we head into 2025, and hit the Bank of Canada’s inflation target of 2% come the middle of 2025. All of this should help the country’s financial status remain stable and prove encouraging for business leaders in the Jewish community.

Canada’s economic growth mirrors iGaming’s rise

When you take a look at the previous growth figures Canada has seen and also consider the growth predicted for 2024 (especially in the second half of the year), it is clear that the country has a vibrant, thriving economy.

This economic growth is something that can be compared with iGaming’s recent rise as an industry around the country. In the same way as Canada has steadily built a strong economy over time, iGaming has transformed itself into a powerful, flourishing sector.

This becomes even clearer when you consider that Canadian iGaming has been a major contributor to the sustained growth seen in the country’s arts, entertainment and recreation industry, which rose by around 1.9% in Q2 of 2023. The healthy state of online casino play in Canada is also evidenced by how many customers the most popular casino platforms attract and how the user experience these operators offer has enabled iGaming in the country to take off.

This, of course, is also something that translates to the world stage, where global iGaming revenues in 2023 hit an estimated $95 billion. iGaming’s global market volume is also pegged to rise to around $130 billion by 2027. These kinds of figures represent a sharp jump for iGaming worldwide and show how the sector is on the ascent.

Future economic outlook for Canada in line with global expectations

When considering the Canadian economic outlook for 2024, it is often useful to look at how this compares with global financial predictions. In addition to the rude health of iGaming in Canada being reflected in global online casino gaming, the positive economic outlook for the country is also broadly in line with expectations for many global economies.

Global growth is also predicted to rise steadily in the second half of 2024 before becoming stronger in 2025. This should be driven by the weakening effects of high interest rates on worldwide economic prosperity. With rate cuts in Canada already expected after Feb 2024’s inflation report, this could happen in the near future.

The performance of the US economy is always of interest in Canada, as this is the country’s biggest trading partner. Positive US Q2 performances in 2023, powered by a strong labor market, good consumer spending levels and robust business investments, were therefore a cause for optimism. As a US economy that continues to grow is something that Canadian businesses welcome, this can only be a healthy sign.

Canada set for further growth in 2024

Local news around Canada can cover many topics but the economy is arguably one of the most popular. A projected GDP growth figure of around 1% for Canada’s economy shows that the financial state of the country is heading in the right direction. An improved financial outlook heading into the latter half of 2024/2025 would make for even better reading, and the national economy should become even stronger.

Continue Reading


The Legal Landscape of Online Gambling in Canada

Online gambling has grown in popularity around the globe in recent years. While many jurisdictions have legalized land-based gambling, it hasn’t applied to online platforms. Nonetheless, Canada is one nation that has legalized online gambling with their provinces’ licensing and regulating sites.

Nonetheless, Canadians of legal age can enjoy playing their favourite online games where available. So many games like slots, blackjack, and roulette still maintain their popularity even in the digital sense.  Want to learn about what’s legal in Canada for online gambling? Let’s take a look.

What is legal for online gambling in Canada?

What is the best online casino in Canada? The list we provide you here should be a good start. It’s also important to note that most Canadian provinces do not have laws that prohibit offshore online casinos.

Many provinces provide licensing to online casinos. They even regulate them as well. For example, Alberta and British Columbia have sites regulated by their respective governing bodies. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) allows legal online gambling and oversees the services it offers to Maritime provinces such as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

However, there are some caveats to address. In Newfoundland and Labrador, online gambling that is not offered by the ALC is considered illegal. Therefore, it is the only Canadian province as of 2024 that prohibits offshore options.

In terms of the legal age, there are three provinces where the legal age is 18: Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec. The remaining provinces establish 19 as the legal age for gambling including online.

Who are the regulatory bodies for gambling in Canada?

At the Federal level, the Canadian Gaming Association is the regulatory body for gambling in Canada. Thus, they cover both land-based and online gambling in the country. There are also provincial and regional regulatory bodies such as the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) – which covers the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador.  

The Western Canada Lottery Corporation covers Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon Territory. A handful of provinces also have their regulatory bodies covering lottery and gaming.

Canada requires online casinos that wish to accept players from the country to adhere to regulations and licensing. These licenses are provided by provincial regulatory bodies. When licensed, online casinos must follow the regulations and security standards.

However, there is the belief that many of the laws about gambling in Canada may be outdated. This could be because these laws were created long before the advent of the Internet. Therefore, such laws may need to be modernized. Nonetheless, online gambling for the most part is legal, just dependent on the province.

Are there any legal grey areas to discuss?

The grey area that is considered a concern pertains to the use of offshore sites. As mentioned earlier, Newfoundland and Labrador is believed to be the only province that prohibits it. Even online casinos with no licensing by Canadian or provincial authorities accept residents of the country.

On the players’ end, many Canadians are allowed to play at online casinos. However, they may be restricted from certain platforms. This is to ensure that the players themselves are protected from unknowingly playing on platforms that may be illegal. 

What are the other laws and regulations about online gambling in Canada?

Online casinos have implemented measures for responsible gambling. This includes providing support and resources to problem gamblers on their site. They are also restricted regarding the marketing and advertising aspects of promoting their platform. 

One restriction of note is that marketing that is targeted at minors is prohibited. Another prohibits professional athletes from appearing in online casino ads in Ontario.

Even offshore casinos must adhere to these laws and regulations. Especially if they have obtained a license from the provincial bodies that allow them to operate.

Canada’s online gambling is legal – but will things change

As it stands right now, the legality of online gambling in Canada seems to fall under the purview of provincial laws and regulations. Canadian citizens must perform their due diligence further to see which online casinos are allowed by their respective provinces. Just because it may be legal in one province, it may not be the same in others.

Nonetheless, the question is: will any laws relax certain restrictions? Will Newfoundland and Labrador change their tune regarding offshore casinos? It’s unclear what the future holds – but watch this space for any changes about online gambling in Canada.  

Continue Reading



Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2017 - 2023 Jewish Post & News