Natalie Portman: Hometown Heroine

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Long Island’s own Natalie Portman stars in the upcoming superhero film “Thor.”She’s played a ballerina, a queen, a stripper and two famous Annes (Frank and Boleyn). She was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful People by People Magazine. She won the Academy Award for her performance in the psychological thriller Black Swan, along with a Golden Globe and several other major accolades.Yet during one of her nearly 20 David Letterman Show appearances, Natalie Portman told the host, “I’ll always still be a kid from Long Island.”Portman, who was born in Jerusalem and lived there until age 3, spent most of her formative years in Jericho, attending Solomon Schechter Day School in Glen Cove, and graduating in 1999 from Syosset High School, where she was valedictorian and also voted “Most Likely to Win Jeopardy.”“Natalie was brilliant in every subject,” says Jill Goldberg, her guidance counselor at Syosset High School when the actress was still known by her given name, Natalie Hershlag (Portman is her grandmother’s maiden name). “She balanced her work here with her professional life seamlessly, maintaining a flawless average. She’s just a brilliant, remarkable person, inside and out. I absolutely adore her.”Portman studied ballet and modern dance at the American Theater Dance Workshop in New Hyde Park and attended the Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts in Wheatley Heights. Her road to stardom began at age 10, when she was “discovered” at an LI pizza parlor by a Revlon scout looking for child models.By age 12, Portman was cast in her first film, Leon: The Professional. Roles followed in Heat (1995), Beautiful Girls (1996) and Mars Attacks! (1996). But despite her busy career, academics always came first—a value instilled by her parents, Dr. Avner Hershlag, chief of North Shore-LIJ’s Center for Human Reproduction, and Shelley Hershlag, an artist.“Natalie’s parents didn’t let her work on major films during the school year,” says Goldberg. “They valued education very highly.”They made an exception for Portman’s starring role on Broadway in The Diary of Anne Frank during her high school junior year. Natalie’s grandfather’s parents and his younger brother were killed in concentration camps, making it extremely personal.Promoting the play on the Today Show in 1997, she told Matt Lauer, “I read the diary at 12, and it’s very close to my own family history. It’s very important to remind people of the wrongs of racism and hatred.”During her senior year, Portman reached superstardom as Queen Amidala in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, famously missing its premiere to study for finals.Her studiousness paid off. Portman graduated with a 4.0 average from Syosset High and continued her education at Harvard, majoring in psychology. At the time, Portman said, “I don’t care if [college] ruins my career. I’d rather be smart than a movie star.”The actress lived for a time in Sea Cliff, where longtime resident and Bart’s Barber Shop owner Joseph Mazzeo once cut her hair. “She came in with her mom, and I had no idea who she was,” Mazzeo recalls. “She was growing her hair out, and she said, ‘Give me a Mohawk.’” He later learned that she’d shaved her head for a movie roll. “Her mom looked nervous,” Mazzeo says, “but Natalie told me, ‘I bet you think I’m 14, but I’m 24.’”Portman, now 32, reprises her role as astrophysicist Jane Foster in Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World, debuting this month—and her science cred isn’t fiction. In high school, Portman co-authored a paper titled “A Simple Method to Demonstrate the Enzymatic Production of Hydrogen from Sugar,” which earned her semifinalist honors in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search. She continued her distinguished science career at Harvard, contributing to a study on memory called “Frontal Lobe Activation during Object Permanence.”She may still be “just a kid from Long Island,” but with her brains, beauty and killer-acting chops, she’s done LI proud.last_img read more

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Airbnb is moving to fight problematic guests

first_imgAirbnb also announced it would introduce new standards of guest behavior in early January to combat excessive noise, unauthorized guests, smoking and leaving a pile of garbage behind. And the hosts will get a set of new rules. For example, they may even be kicked off the platform if they trade positive reviews or leave negative reviews to competitors. Many hosts have encountered guests who threaten them with a negative review if they do not receive certain bonuses or a discount on the price of accommodation. To put an end to this, Airbnb is currently introducing a series of new rules to protect hosts from false reviews. Some of these steps resulted from host feedback. “Therefore, at the beginning of 2020, we will introduce improved standards for guests who set higher expectations from a reliable community”, They said from Airbnb in a blog post. Among other things, it changes the way Airbnb handles guest and host reviews on the platform. Airbnb support agents are authorized to remove posts and ratings resulting from irrelevant, biased, and false reviews, and may completely deny access to the platform to all users who have repeatedly committed a particular offense. Source / photo: Skift; Airbnb It is often written about tougher sanctions for fraudsters who publish accommodation ads on Airbnb that do not exist or do not resemble photos and descriptions from the platform. But Airbnb is now announcing a series of measures to protect hosts from guest misbehavior, reports Shift. According to Airbnb, examples of irrelevant reviews may be from guests who did not show up at the booked accommodation for reasons unrelated to the host and decided to criticize the experience. Other irrelevant reviews may include a description of the appearance of the host, public transportation, or “the kind of people in the neighborhood”. The rule will give hosts the option to cancel the remaining nights if they cannot resolve the issue with the guest. The hosts can also file a claim for damages.last_img read more

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USC continues push to become smoke-free

first_imgAs part of USC’s Healthy Trojans wellness initiative, the University Park Campus is beginning to make steps toward becoming smoke-free.The USC Academic Senate — composed of faculty members — began considering a smoke-free campus last December, when it started to conduct research on the feasibility and the possible benefits.Though this idea is only in its conceptual stages, members of the Academic Senate are pushing for a smoke-free campus to become a reality — as soon as within a few years.Chris Chomyn, a member of the senate and co-chair for the provost’s advisement on family rights, said he heard many arguments from USC community members in favor of going smoke-free.“One of the most compelling reasons that I heard was from Dr. Joseph Randolph,” Chomyn said. “He basically let us know that smoking causes tumors in nine different organs of humans. Additionally secondhand smoke causes cancer in people, and tobacco can be linked to more than 30 percent of all human cancers.”When research and statistics were presented to the Academic Senate in April, an initiative was almost unanimously passed to turn USC in the direction of a smoke-free campus. Since then, the USC Staff Assembly has also proposed and passed a similar initiative after talking with the Academic Senate.As the smoke-free initiative becomes more of a realistic possibility for USC, the Academic Senate has begun to think of the logistics involved in making USC smoke-free, said Patty Riley, co-chair of the faculty environmental committee of the Academic Senate.“It might follow the process that other organizations have used, which is a phased process where they first designate smoking areas for some amount of time,” Riley said. “Then, eventually the campus or the hospital or whatever sort of organization it is goes completely smoke-free.”Currently, there are a few designated smoking areas on campus, near the Ronald Tutor Campus Center and the Pertusati Bookstore.Though there is no campus ban on smoking, there are restrictions already in place, including a ban on smoking in or within 20 feet of university buildings.Administrators are not sure when the initiative will become a reality, said Peter Conti, head of the Academic Senate, but they do agree on one thing: USC’s transition to a smoke-free campus will attempt to be understanding of the students’ experience.“The most important thing here is that it’s not going to be a punitive process; it’s going to be an educational process,” Conti said. “I think we want to make it more of a joint effort between communities, saying, ‘We can do this as a community.’”Though the faculty and staff are in favor of the smoke-free initiative, it must next be approved by student groups in order to move forward.The Faculty Environmental Committee, along with the Advisory Committee on Work and Family Life, plan to speak to both the Undergraduate Student Government and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate this year to learn if students are in favor of the initiative.Alex Williams, a freshman majoring in theatre who does not smoke, said she is in favor of a smoke-free campus.“I just find it inconvenient to have to walk around and smell cigarette smoke everywhere outside because people don’t follow the rules necessarily of being far away from buildings or staying in the designated smoking areas,” Williams said. “I personally think [a smoke-free campus] is fine because my own personal view is that smoking kills and it is hazardous to people’s health, long-term and short-term.”Williams said student input should be a large part of the process, and suggested public forums or school-wide surveys to gauge student opinions.Other students said they felt differently.William Hellwarth, a freshman majoring in interactive entertainment who smokes, acknowledged that smoking is unhealthy, but said he believes it is a choice.“A lot of kids value very strongly their rights, including stuff like smoking on campus,” Hellwarth said. “They would feel trodden on, certainly.”Conti said although students do have the right to make their own decisions, others also have the right to be healthy.“People around you have a right to be healthy too. And we want to encourage people to choose that right as opposed to choosing the right to smoke,” he said.The university already has programs to help students stop smoking with the aid of counseling services, patches and even prescriptions. As the initiative progresses, the emphasis will be on helping students to make healthy decisions.“It’s important that the students get involved,” Conti said. “If the students want this to happen, it will happen.”last_img read more

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