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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 29, 2012 PAGE 15A. By Robert Gluck JNS.org As the Oklahoma City Thun- der and Miami Heat battled for the National Basketball Association title, they have been unaware thatared-haired Jewish kid from the Lower East Side ol~Manhattan--who passedaway in 1998--remains an impact player. During the NBA playoffs on the TNT network, sports- caster Marv Albert said the final four remaining this year (the Thunder and Heat, plus the previously eliminated San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics) reminded him of the New York Knicks champion- ship teams of the early 1970s. Those teams, coached by Wil- liam"Red" Holzman. stressed pressure defense, moving the ball and hitting the open man. Holzman's Jewish im- migrant parents called him "Roita." Yiddish for red. His father came from Russia and his mother from Romania. But"Roita" was a New Yorker. born and bred. He first came to the attention of New Yorkers as a standout player for City College and the Rochester Royals. a team that beat the George Kalinsky Red Holzman Knicks for the NBAchampion- ship in seven games in 1951. Moreover, Holzman's coaching skills earned him entry into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. Mass. According to Hall of Fame spokesman Matt Zeysing, Holzman was one of the great teachers of basketball. "Holzman teams played basketbaL ~he way the game was meant to be p!ayed-- hard, selfless, tough, and with a premium placed on teamwork and trust," Zeysing told JNS.org. "He was one of the great minds in basketball and his championship teams helped earn him a spot in the Hall of Fame. The Holzman era of basketball spanned five decades, and during that time Red touched the game at every level and the results were always spectacular." Heat general manager and former coach Pat Riley was inspired by Holzman, so much so that when he first took over as coach of the Knicks in 1991, the first thing he did was bring Holzman back to the organization. Dennis D'Agostino, author of the book "Garden Glory: An Oral History of the New York Knicks" and the team's.cur- rent historian and staff writer, knows the inside story about Riley and Red. "Pat Riley was very instru- mental in bringing Red back to the Knicks in a much more involved role as a consultant." D'Agostino told JNS.org." When Pat came in 1991 he even explored the possibility of bringing Red back to the bench as an assistant coach. Red declined because he didn't want to take the thunder away from Pat. Pat actively sought Red's advice and Red was in- volved in the draft and player moves. I remember Pat's first year we did a media guide with Red and Pat on the cover." In his 20 years working for the Knicks. D'Agostino had unparalleled access to key figures in Knicks history. Years of countless interviews and information gathering produced a candid, compre- hensive insider's view of the Knickerbockers. Dozens of Knicks icons participated in D'Agostino's research and in- terviews, including Bill Bradley, Patrick EwingandPhilJackson. Phil Jackson, who has won a record 11 NBA titles as a head coach, is "exhibit A" of Holzman's inspiration, D'Agostino said. Jackson played on the 1970 and 1973 NBA champion Knicks, both coached by Holzman. "Phil was hurt during the Knicks first championship year. so Red gave him things to do like scout and draw up a playbook. That's how it started. " D'Agastino said. "Red was Phil's number one influence." Jackson told the New York Daily "News in 2009 that Holzman is the reason he is a coach. "He told me I would be a coach," Jackson said. "He said, "You see the game.' The one year I was sitting out injured, I asked him questions about coaching. He used to tell me, 'It's not rocket science, Phil. It's not rocket science.' He was pretty basic about his basketball: See the ball on defense and hit the open man on offense. But he also had a great feel for people and how to get them motivated." Holzman never forgot his teammates after their playing days were over. In a Knicks Now blog entry, D'Agostino wrote about the death of Holzman's former roommate and friend Andrew "Fuzzy." Levane (who recently passed away at 92). Holzman and Levane were teammates in Rochester. In Milwaukee, Holzman hired Levane as his assistant and scout. Holzman would later succeed Levane as Atlanta Hawks coach in 1954, and when Levane joined the Knicks, he again hired Holz- man as a scout. Holzman, of course, eventually won two titles as New York's coach. "It was Red Holzman who brought Fuzzy back to the Knicks, and that was only natural," D'Agostino wrote. "Wherever you saw Red, you saw Fuzzy. They were inseparable, and the personal histories of the two New York- ers were intertwined for half a century." While covering the NBA Finals in Oklahoma City, D'Agostin0 told JNS.org that he knew Holzman person- ally near the end of his life. Known for his sophisticated yet homespun humor, Holz- man was a street philosopher, D'Agostino said, who uttered axioms like this gem: "Never let a bald barber cut your hair." In 1998, Holzman died at Long Island Jewish Hospital. His legacy persists not just on the courts of the NBA, but in the hearts of Knicks fans in the city and beyond--many of whom recognize that it takes hard work to succeed. "Red Holzman embodied the immigrant philosophy of the work ethic," D'Agostino said. "He was a product of where he lived, what his background was and the time in which he grew up. He was aware of the impact he had but he was so unassuming. You go, you do your job, and you go home." By Naomi Pfefferman Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles On a sunny morning at Jerry's Dell on Beverly Bou- levard. Lisa Kudrow was laughing about the narcis- sistic shrink she plays on her improvised Showtime dark comedy, "Web Therapy." "Isn't she awful?" said Kudrow, who burst into popular culture in 1994 playing the kooky mas- seuse Phoebe Buffay on NBC's megahit "Friends." Despite her fame, the 48-year-old actress, wearing black jeans andawhite blouse, didn't attract attention even in a front booth; her low-key glamour and quietly subver- sive sense of humor as she dug into her oatmeal made her seem so, well, normal. Which, she drolly acknowledged, is, "thanks to therapy." Not from the likes of her character, the dubiously cre- dentialed Dr. Fiona Wallice, thankfully. Wallice as in wall-of-ice is the planet's most self-absorbed, money- grubbing shrink, dispensing dismal advice as she touts herself as the creator of the -three-minute iChat therapy session, the better to cut through trivial issues such as patients' thoughts and feelings. "It's so much fun to play Fiona," said Kudrow, whose own appealing qualities make Wallice watchable. "It's fun to make fun of things that are stupid and merit ridicule." As the show's second Show- time season premieres on July 2 (the DVD of season one hit stores June 19), Fiona is fi- nagling to hawk her memoir, which she's plagiarized from her doormat of an assistant (played by Dan Bucatinsky, who created the show along with Kudrow and Don Roos). She's also trying to steal the limelight as her husband, Kip (Victor Garber), runs for Congress on the Republican ticket--requiring damage control as a result of his sex- ual proclivities. Meryl Streep Usa Kua w plays Kip's "rehabilitation" therapist; Rosie O'Donnell is a conservative Catholic publisher who hates Fiona's book; Lily Tomlin portrays Fiona's mother, who hates Fiona; and Conan O'Brien and David Schwimmer ("Friends") are two of her hapless patients. While some of Kudrow's "Friends" co-stars have con- tinued to embrace similarly lighthearted fare Jenni- fer Aniston has become a staple of romantic comedies, and Courteney Cox stars on ABC's guilty pleasure "Cougar Town'--Kudrow has gleaned kudos for taking on riskier characters. In addition to starring in independent films such as "The Opposite of Sex," she earned an Emmy Award nomination for her turn as a faded sitcom star desperate to return to the limelight in HBO's mock reality series "The Comeback" And Webby Awards have been amply be- stowed upon "Web Therapy," which began as an Internet series on iStudio before being picked up lastseason by Show- time, joining the network's slate of shows spotlighting edgy protagonists such as "Shameless" and "Nurse Jackie." You could call Kudrow the Opposite of Phoebe: "Life can be absurdly horrible, and I like to poke fun at the absurdly horrible," she said. "Not ev- eryone's a monster but potentially [they are]. I think it's these extreme perceptions that fuel people's comedy. It's almost a neurotic thing that I have." "Lisa can be complicated." Roos said in a telephone inter- view. "She's certainly aware of the inequalities in life, all the systems we have that separate men and women, blacks and whites, rich and poor, Jews and non-Jews. I don't think she has a ~'osy view of human relationships. Not that it's a pessimisticview; it's realistic." "Lisa's comedy is an odd pairing of quirky and intellec- tual," Bucatinsky said. "There is an edgy, irreverent point of view, and yet also a sort of conservative prudishness. Lisa is very devoted to her family and values her privacy. She is also sensible, reliable, whip-smart and a very loyal friend. I look to her a lot for advice and counsel." In person, Kudrow appears practical, empathetic and down-to-earth. Unlike many of her former i:o-stars, ~he has not been fodder for the tabloids, escaping that glare, she said matter-of-factly, "because I'm dull." She thinks it helps that she's been mar- ried for more than 15 years to a non-celebrity, the French businessman Michel Stern; they have a son, Julian, who is now studying for his bar mitzvah, she said, proudly. Kudrow is equally direct when asked about complaints from some Jewish critics that characters played by Cox and Schwimmer on "Friends" were Jewish (or half-Jewish) in name only. "I don't know how funny it is to say, well here we are Jews, sitting around in Central Perk," she said, referring to the coffee shop hangout in the show. "It's not out of hiding; it's just, to me, there's no full acceptance or equality until there's no spot- light on a character's rellgion, until it just is." "The Comeback" was born of Kudrow's observations about the train wreck of reality television.-"I couldn't fathom the level of humiliation that people were signing up for in order to be famous for I don't know how long," she said. "And what's happening to us that we're just sitting around watching people humiliate themselves, and that!s Our entertainment? Uh-oh." As for "Web. Therapy," she said, "I got the idea because it's such a bad idea." In the Internet oversharing culture, it seemed that perhaps the next ludicrous step might be the phenomenon of the Web shrink. "Then I thought about who might perpetrate this, and it's obvious that she would have to have a lot of gall," Kudrow said. "What makes me laugh about Fiona is just her brazenness; these horrible ideas that she just is very confident about. We wouldn't have had the idea if we hadn't already seen it in so many politicians who just say the most outrageous things but with a great deal of bravado." Kudrow grew up in Tarzana, Calif where she first learned to perform improvisational comedy in a drama class while attending Portola Junior High School, but focused on biology at Taft High and later at Vassar College, aspiring to become a doctor, like her father. Although her father is an atheist and the family did not belong to a synagogue, Kudrow chose to have a bat mitzvah "because I just felt like I needed to be counted 'in.' I'm Jewish, and that's important to me," she said. She still remembers the biography of Uta Hagen that her brother's best friend, the actor Jon Lovitz, gave her for her bat mitzvah, inscribed with the words "to my fellow the;plan." I1 was Lovitz who advised Ku~row to study with The Groandlings improvisational conedy troupe when she decried to become an actress after graduating college in the mid-1980s. Before long she was cast on the sitcom "Frasier" but was devastated when she was fired after just two days. Even so, she parlayed a one-day gig on "Mad About You," a role So insignificant she was cast, simply, as "Wait- ress," into a recurring role. Then producers came call- !ng for "Friends," the iconic sitcom revolving around Six yuppies in New York that eventlaally earned Kudrow and her colleagues a reported $1 million per episode. Kudrow credits her sweetly optimistic character of Phoe- be with getting her to "loosen up, lighten up," but the blast of fame that came with the series proved unsettling. "What I remember most vividly is when the six of us did our first big photo shoot. As we came out of the studio, there were so many photographers that it was blinding, flashing, and they were all screaming, im- patient and angry to get your attention," shesaid."It just felt like an assault. But the great thing was that we could see each other every day and talk about what was happening; it was like therapy. Even at the time, we all said, 'Thank God we can all do this together.'" As "Friends" entered its fi- nal seasons, her future career remained uncertain. It's not that Kudrow didn't try the romantic comedy route; she starred in the poorly received "MarciX," inwhich she played a Jewish-American Princess who heads a controversial hip-hop record label. "That was the least happy I've been professionally, because you have to be adorable for [ro- mantic comedies], and I'm not adorable; it's just not who I am," she said. "So I remember vowing, nobody's ever going to hire me to do this again; I'll try other things." Kudro-w co-founded a pro- duction company in order to produce her own projects, took co-starring roles in films including "Wonderland" and "Analyze This," and created NBC's 'qArho Do You Think You Are?" a show she adapted from British television in which celebrities explore their ancestry. Initially she was reluctant to trace-her own ancestry, afraid that she would uncover details about family members who had died in the Holocaust. "I had been in complete denial about that," she said. She also didn't see herself as a big enough name for a segment of her own--the show was featuring artists like Sarah Jessica Parker and Spike Lee. Then a slot opened, and Kudrow found herself at the site of a vegetable warehouse in Belarus where her great- grandmother and family were forced to strip naked before befng shot and falling into a pit, where their bodies were then doused with gasoline and burned. Kudrow went on to ask hard questions of the villagers---"Did you know any Jewish families? Where were your parents when this was all happening?"---~ as they squirmed with discomfort. At one point while telling her family story, Kudrow said she became so emotional that she turned away from the camera. "Going to Betarus confirmed that, yes, it's an ugly planet," she said when we met. "But, in the second half of the show, I found a cousin of mine who is still alive in Poland, and that made m# feel like there's hope, and that good things can happen." Our conversation turned back" to "Web Therapy," spe- cifically how, five years ago, she would get pitying looks .when she would tell people she was working on an Internet series. Undaunted, she pur- sued the project as "a great experiment, because it was just two people talking at any time on computer screens." Today, Kudrow-=-who is on screen throughout almost the entire show--seems amazed that her experiment has paid off. "The miracle of all this is that we're on Showtime for a second season," she said. Naomi Pfefferman is arts & entertainment editor at The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. J