Sunday, July 31, 2011

Russian Dolls: Eva Levitis, The Fortune Teller

One of the minor cast members in Lifetime’s Russian Dolls is Eva Levitis, mother of Michael Levitis. Aside from being related to Michael and Marina, Eva is also a professed, second generation “fortune teller.” In Eva’s website is the story of how her mother, Faina, became a medium.

Faina worked on a ship and one day, during one of the stops, she started speaking to a woman who was selling tickets. The woman suddenly asks Faina if she ever had any kind of premonitions. Surprised by the question, because it was true, she starts talking with the woman who confides in her that she is a medium and feels Faina could be one too. Faina went to see the woman each time her ship stopped at that village, so the woman could teach her what she knew. But, the woman quickly saw that Eva’s mother had great accuracy in telling the future from cards. Faina went back to Moscow and started doing readings for people in secret, because it was forbidden at the time. And, when Eva was old enough, Faina taught her daughter everything she knew. Eva still uses her mother’s cards to tell the future.

Check out her website: for more details or to make an appointment to have a reading.

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Jersey Shore: Episode 1 Sneak Peek

We're just days away from the new season of the Jersey Shore in Italy, which premieres this Thursday night. The extended trailer MTV released promises that this season will have more fights, more hook ups... more of the same.

Now, we already know that the city of Florence forbade the cast from drinking in public, as well as in local bars and clubs. But this sneak peek of episode 1 shows that we can expect even more differences this season, starting with the Ron-Ron juice.

So besides the lack of vodka, what other mishaps can we expect on this Italian vacation? Well, for one, it seems tanning and nail salons in Italy require you to schedule an appointment weeks in advance. That will make GTL a bit harder, so perhaps the guys won't look quite so fresh to death.

It also seems the roommates weren't aware about the voltage difference in Italy, which means that Pauly D might have trouble with his blow out, and Sammi won't be able to straighten her already straight hair. The horror!

We might be in for a good season, but most people think the cast is at their best back in Seaside. Guess we'll find out JERZDAY.

Russian Dolls: Shahs Of Sunset, New Show In Works

Even before the Russians hit the ground running in Russian Dolls, Bravo is ready to throw caution to the wind! They are working on a new show called, Shahs of Sunset, about Iranian-Americans in Los Angeles. Bravo’s Andy Cohen is working together with Ryan Seacrest, of American Idol, who is using his production company to get the show on the airwaves. LA has the largest population of Iranians outside of Iran, about 800,000, so it seemed like the next logical step?

The show will focus on a group of young, rich Persian friends that who grew up together, shop on Rodeo Drive, dine with family, and try to balance their careers with their social engagements. They plan to have a mix of ethnic values and traditions along with the LA culture and lifestyle. The show will no doubt be stereotypical, and fall in line right behind Jersey Shore and Russian Dolls. There are no details as to when the show might debut.

Of course, for now, Shahs of Sunset, is a working title. Let’s hope that Bravo doesn’t make the same mistake as Lifetime. Lifetime’s working title, Brighton Beach, was much better than Russian Dolls, which is very offensive.

(For those who may not be aware, Iran was formerly called Persia, and so the article alternate between referring to the ethnic group as Iranian-American and Persian-American.)

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Russian Dolls: Renata Krumer Radio Host

Renata Krumer and Husband Boris Glickstein

One of the featured “dolls” in Lifetime’s Russian Dolls, is radio host Renata Krumer, married to Boris Glickstein. In March of this year, the couple attended at party hosted by the Rasputin nightclub celebrating International Women’s Day, called With Love…A Russian Soiree. At the soiree, Marina, Rasputin owner, entertained guests with a fur fashion show.

Recently, on March 16th of this year, Renata costarred in a one night, off Broadway show called “Demon.” “Demon is a romantic poem written by Mikhail Lermontov (1814-1841) a popular Russian poet. In a nutshell, the tragic story is about a fallen angel, the Demon, who falls in love with a mortal, Tamara. The performance was in Russian.

Renata Krumer graduated from New York University with a BS degree. Her radio show deals with woman’s issues. I’m going to assume that her radio show is also conducted in Russian. Renata has a thick accent and I was going to post a video, but many are too long and unprofessionally shot. As for the ones I did watch, I could barely understand what she was saying. You can search you for her name, if you care to have a listen.

Picture credit: and

Russian Dolls: Rasputin Nightclub

The Inside of Rasputin!

The Rasputin Nightclub, along with it’s owners, are being featured on the new reality series, Russian Dolls. The owners are Michael and Marina Levitis. According to the review in New York Magazine, this is not the place to go to if you want a quiet dinner. It provides a traditional Russian dining atmosphere where guest like to dress up, drink and dance. There is a cabaret band, singers, a dance floor, and stage for a 30 minute Vegas style show. The food is delicious and included many Russian specialty dishes as you would expect. There are also continental choices. The fixed price banquet is $75 per person ($100 on Saturdays) with a minimum of four people. The nightclub is lavishly decorated Check out their elaborate website below where you can information and pictures about their menu, shows, concerts and special events.

Michael and Marina

Michael, Rasputin's owner, is also a lawyer in danger of disbarment because he is in some hot water with the law. Michael is allegedly involved in a political scandal of corruption with State Senator Carl Kruger. Michael has already pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators in a case that goes back to 2007. Levitis was taped telling another restaurant owner that if he held a fundraiser to raise campaign funds and handed over thousands of dollars, Kruger would help him with state matters. Kruger himself was charged with accepting over one million dollars in bribes. It remains to be seen if Lifetime will exploit this corruption scandal as part of the storyline of the show.

The Show!

Picture credit: Rasputin website Rasputin

Russian Dolls: Russian Escorts, What’s In A Name?

The working title of the series was originally Brighton Beach. This was supposed to be a Russian Jersey Shore, hence the beach. But, the final title, Russian Dolls, is making waves in the Russian community, who find the new title more than a little offensive. What’s the big deal?

Well, it turns out, for those of us who had no clue, that Russian Dolls is a coined term for escort services, better known as prostitution fronts. Community leaders were outraged that on top of the fact they are being portrayed in a very negative light. The title just added more fuel to the fire. An undisclosed source revealed that the decision to rename the show was made by Lifetime and not a production team decision.

Just two weeks before the show is due to air, the Brighton beach community is still after Lifetime to kill the show. I doubt very much that will happen. However, I do agree with the Brighton Beach residents that the title of this show is offensive. Lifetime knew it would get a bad reaction and they knew exactly what the term meant. Stereotypes are one thing. People can choose to believe in them or not. I am not offended by Jersey Shore or Mob Wives even though I am of Italian decent. I know those shows do not represent me or anyone I know. So I have no sympathy for the Russian community when they protest about portrayal. But I do sympathize with them when it comes to the total lack of taste and good judgment on the part of Lifetime in selecting that title. Aside from being insulting and offensive, it may end up indirectly promoting the escort services. Even I did a search or two, for blog purposes, to see if I could find any Russian Escort services in Brighton Beach.

Why would Lifetime want to add insult to injury to a community that they are portraying on their show? Brighton Beach was a perfectly good title. I think they should have left well enough alone.  What do you think?

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Russian Dolls: Lifetime’s Russian Dolls Promo

Lifetime gives us a 30 second clip of a promo for their new show, Russian Dolls, which premieres on August 11th at 10:30 PM ET. I watched the clip several times. It’s more of a montage of pictures than a video. Too much footage in too little time. I still cannot figure out what message they are trying to send, but this is the message I got: There will be pretty girls, some older people, lots of accents, physical brawls, lots of food, a provocative scene of a young couple in bed and some “ethnic bias” as one girl says to a guy she can’t be with him if he is not Russian. That’s a lot for 30 seconds.

I am disappointed, but I am not a television executive either. Maybe they know what they are doing. But, in my opinion, a two minute clip of a glimpse at four scenes, might have been more telling. If you are going to only release 30 seconds, stick to one scene that gives the viewer a taste of what they can expect.

The other issue I have is their time slot. Some genius decided to put this show on opposite the second half hour of the new season of Jersey Shore! That is the last place on the schedule where I would have put it. Jersey Shore has a huge following, that’s why Lifetime decided to “imitate” it. I assume they are trying to get the Jersey Shore audience interested in watching? Well, if that’s true, someone explain to me why a Jersey Shore fan is going to change channels, half way through their show, to try out a new and similar knock off show, when they are watching the real deal? I think Lifetime is shooting themselves in the foot with that decision. But, then again, what do I know, I am not a television producer.

Watch the promo and tell us what you think? Do we have a hit on our hands? Can Russian Dolls compete with Jersey Shore?

Picture and video credit: Lifetime


Russian Dolls: Meet The Cast Of Russian Dolls!

Russian Dolls is a new reality show launching on Thursday, August 11th. The series will consist of 12 episodes and follow a cast of ten Russian men and women in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn. Brighton Beach is well known as being New York City’s largest Russian-American neighborhood. It might be a good idea to get familiar with the cast before the first episode.

Anastasia, 26, who interested in going to the gym, tanning, applying makeup and making sure her hair extensions look good.

Anna, 22, an aspiring model and flirt who owns her own modeling school and yet lives in a small apartment with her parents and interfering grandmother.

Marina, 34, and Michael Levitis, a couple who own the popular nightclub “Rasputin.”  She loves furs and diamond jewelry and goes a few rounds with her overbearing mother in law, Eva

Albert, 26, loves cash and social status and knows what he wants out of life: millions of dollars and a nice Russian girl he can take home to meet his mother.

Renata, 47, is the host of a popular Russian radio show, great personality, married to Boris

Diana, 23, the Russian princess looking for a Russian Prince with a nice car and enough money to pay for all her heart desires.

Eddie, 26, a bit of a womanizer who juggles women while trying to get established in life.

Sveta, 47, strong willed woman, married 30 years to Sasha who owns a jewelry store.

There you have it, the ten people who will be appearing on Russian Dolls. What is your first impression of the cast?  You'll be hearing ours in our recap right after the first episode airs!  Stay tuned!

Picture credit: Lifetime

Russian Dolls: Brighton Beach Russians Up In Arms!

Welcome to Brighton Beach, little Russia by the sea!  Things have gotten a little stormy since Lifetime began filming it's new reality series "Russian Dolls" in Brighton Beach!  The network rocked the boat when they decided to created a sterotypical Russian reality show based on Jersey Shore!

Why should Italians be the only ones upset at the way they are being portrayed? Jersey Shore had Italian American noses out of joint for the way they were being depicted. Mob Wives had Italian Staten Island residents hitting the roof because they believed the rest of the country would think they were all like the ladies on the hit show. Now the Russians from Brighton Beach, Brooklyn are going to get a dose of reality television when the Russian Dolls hit Lifetime’s airways on August 11th.

The Russian community is not happy with the way they are being stereotyped in the new show. Ever since taping began last fall, community leaders and residents have been voicing their strong disapproval to Lifetime executives. The show advertised they were looking for the Russian “Snooki” and “Situation” in order to create a Russian version of Jersey Shore where drinking vodka and partying would be the main theme.

Those signing the letter to Lifetime, protesting the new show, include an impressive list of well educated, professional individuals who feel that while Russians have made valuable contributions to society, they are always being depicted in a negative light.

Lifetime has responded to the communities concerns and say they have “toned down” the original idea of the show. Lifetime states that they are using their own “voice” and not that of MTV. The concept of the show is that is it a “multigenerational women’s story about life in the community,” including dating, working, and their relationships. 

But, the Lifetime posters at Brighton Beach, looking for cast members, read: "Are you the Russian Snooki or The Situation? Are you a super outgoing and fun-loving Russian-American that sometimes sneaks kalbaska, pel'meni and vodka from the fridge? Can people hear the Euro/Techno/Russian music blasting from your car before they see you pull up? ... The cameras will roll as you do what you do best - eat, drink and PARTY."

Sorry Lifetime, I am not buying it. You wanted to capitalized on the success of Jersey Shore so you created a slightly different version using Russians instead of Italians. How different is it? First you have the theme of the “beach,” the Jersey shore versus Brighton Beach. Then, when looking for your cast, you specifically say that you are looking for a Russian “Snooki” and “Situation.” Your promo clip, giving us a glimpse into the show has fighting, drinking and flirting. Where is your “voice” Lifetime?  Where does MTV's voice end and yours begin?   Just sayin’!

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