Stiller’s new HBO show, Handler-Rivers scuffle, Drescher’s close encounter

Ben Stiller, seen here at the 2011 Independent Spirit Awards, is set to produce, direct and star in a new HBO show about a Jewish family from Washington.

JTA Staff,

The show revolves around a Jewish family living in Washington and is billed as “politically, religiously, culturally, intellectually and sexually irreverent.” And guess who is set to co-star? Mr. “M*A*S*H” himself, Alan Alda.

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Shooting is set to begin in the fall.

Fran Drescher’s close encounter

Sorry all you “Nanny” fans but we have some bad news: Fran Drescher is losing it.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Drescher confessed that she believes in aliens. Here’s the story:

“You know, it’s funny because Peter [Marc Jacobson, Drescher’s ex-husband] and I both saw [aliens] before we knew each other, doing the same thing, driving on the road with our dads … we were both in junior high. A few years later we met, and we realized that we had the same experience. I think that somehow we were programmed to meet. We both have this scar. It’s the exact same scar on the exact same spot.”

Jacobson disputes the account, saying the scar is from burning herself with hot water, not an alien invasion. But Drescher is undaunted.

“That’s what the aliens programmed us to think,” she explains. “But really, that’s where the chip is.”

Calif. synagogue hits up Mel Gibson

What’s up with Congregation Beth Shalom in Corona, Calif.? The strapped-for-cash synagogue reached out for financial help to the Hollywood actor best known to Jews for his anti-Semitic rants.

In a letter to Mel Gibson, the synagogue made this offer: “Our proposal to you, Mr. Gibson, is since you have been cited as an Anti-Semitic, and have denied those allegations, what better way to prove to all your fans and the nay Sayers — than to endorse and help raise funds for our cause — SOS, Save Our Synagogue.”

Some might say playing the anti-Semite card is legit, but it also stinks of extortion. Gibson’s rep said the actor “knows nothing about the request but wishes the temple all the best.” 

Ferris Bueller returns

Super Sunday is just around the corner, and this year one of the most buzzed-about commercials stars Ferris Bueller — that is, Matthew Broderick, who stars in a Honda ad based on his 1986 film masterpiece “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

Broderick, now 49 and married to Sarah Jessica Parker, recited the legendary quote from the movie, “How can I handle work on a day like today?” with the Ferris Bueller theme song playing in the background.

Can Ferris beat last year’s popular Darth Vader kid of Volkswagen? It may be more interesting than watching Eli Manning take on Tom Brady. 

Drew the Jew?

First we have Isla Fisher turning to the Semitic side for love. Then along comes Ivanka Trump, opening her heart to Hashem. And now Drew Barrymore also might be converting to Judaism for the love of a man.

According to the New York Daily News, Barrymore might soon be converting for her fiancee, Will Kopelman. Close friend Adam Sandler supposedly is helping Barrymore along in her conversion process.

Drew’s publicist denied the rumor, but not before the story was widely reprinted. 

James Franco launches TV website

Good news for those who can’t get enough of James Franco. After the movies, TV shows, books, Academy Award hosting and even the James Franco 101 class at Columbia, the Francophiles can now occupy themselves with 24 hours of online Franco stuff.

Franco is launching a video website that will feature his newest project, a reality show called “Undergrads,” which follows the lives of four University of Southern California coeds. Franco is also finally back on Twitter with his @JamesFrancoTV handle, meaning he may take back the statement he made to Politico last year: ”Social media is over. Still up there. Going down. You heard it here first.”

“Undergrads” will be released every Thursday at 8 p.m. on Franco’s website. He may even tweet about it.

Joan Rivers-Chelsea Handler smackdown

In one of the stranger turf wars in Hollywood history, Chelsea Handler began a feud with Joan Rivers. In an interview with Howard Stern, Handler rolled her eyes, imitated the old lady’s squeaky voice and asked honestly, “What the f— do I care about Joan Rivers?”

Well. Ms. Rivers had something to say to that. She went on Stern herself to set the record straight on who is really the diva comedienne.

“No. 1, the girl made it on her back f—ing the president [Handler’s ex-boyfriend, E! President Ted Herbert], we all know that, of the network. No. 2, she’s fine, she’s ordinary. She’s not a genius,” Rivers told the radio host. She also went on to call Handler a “drunk” who is “not particularly funny.”

Rivers finished off her tirade with one piece of advice for Chelsea: “But don’t you come after me, you whore.”