Archive for the tag 'russian dolls'

Screenshot of BCTV host Alyonka Larionov from “BCTV – Brighton Beach” by Ali Hashemi. Source: Vimeo

If you have visited the brand-spanking new Barclays Center this year, you might have already seen this cool new tribute to Brighton Beach, which has been playing on Barclays Center Television (BCTV).

The video features the fetching Alyonka Larionov jaunting her way through Brighton Beach, eating authentic pierogis, vamping like Leo DiCaprio on the boardwalk, and sharing drinks with some friendly Moscovians in town to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

Aloynka, who makes mention of her Russian roots, does get a little confused when referencing Brighton Beach Boulevard, which we all know doesn’t exist. Geographic error aside, she leads an otherwise cheerful tour through Brighton Beach, checking out Russian hats, Russian dolls (no, not these Russian Dolls) and Russian candy. She even expounds a little upon that “funny little creature,” Cheburashka.

It’s a fun, snappily-edited and mood-brightening journey though Little Odessa.

Marina Levitis (Source: New York Magazine/ Dina Litovsky)

Marina Levitis (Source: New York Magazine/ Dina Litovsky)

Though Russian Dolls was ripped from us at an all-too-early-time, the true spirit of Russia’s pageantry remains alive on the pages of New York Magazine.

Recently, as part of their style series, New York Magazine profiled several Russian women in all of their glory, including Rasputin co-owner and Russian Dolls star, Marina Levitis, wife of scandal-marred Michael Levitis.

From furs to giant gemstones, Ukraine-born photographer Dina Litovsky headed to Brighton Beach to capture the “the procession of red-soled heels.”

Check out the rest of the gallery and prepare to feel completely unfashionable about your t-shirt and jeans. I know I do.

Man, I love having a reason to use this Photoshopped bit of genius.

A new television show following several Russian-Americans as they attempt to achieve their own American Dream will soon hit the airwaves.

No, it ain’t Russian Dolls – a.k.a. a miserable failure to replicate Jersey Shore with Slavic schlock – but it is the latest exploration of our Russian-American neighbors.

National Geographic has ordered an eight-part series based on New York-based Russians from a top British production company. It will be filmed in the most densely populated Russian-American enclave in the U.S., Brighton Beach, and will be produced by Firecracker Films. Crews were in the neighborhood as recently as last week, interviewing Russian-American leaders about the community, and exploring the cultural quirks of Little Odessa.

Firecracker Films is a well established production company that has already received praise for their work on the BAFTA-nominated series Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, which aired on TLC. This past October they won the “Breakout TV Producer Of The Year Award” at the 2nd Annual Beverly Hills Film, Television and New Media Award. They also have worked with BBC, and Discovery.

The series is set to air in the Fall of 2012.

Michael and Marina Levitis during the shows filming. Except now they're sad. (Source: James Edstrom + Mr. Frownie Face.)

Rumors have been circulating that Lifetime’s Russian Dolls – yeah, you know the one – has been cancelled. Well, that’s not quite right.

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The photo that started it all.

Since Sheepshead Bites staffers have been barred from attending the Russian Dolls premiere party at Rasputin (I wonder why), we decided to have a little fun ourselves.

Sheepshead Bites has teamed up with Beer Saloon – the bar closest in proximity to Rasputin – to throw an impromptu premiere party. And, no, it’s not necessarily to celebrate this bit of horrific television programming – it’s more to get together, have some fun and bounce reactions off one another.

After all, why would we celebrate a show that the New York Times reviewed by saying, “If the Soviet authorities had wanted to torture Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn beyond endurance, they would have forced him to watch ‘Russian Dolls.’” Oof, that’s got to sting.

Well, good or bad, revolting or alluring – we’re packing into Beer Saloon to enjoy the show on their numerous big screen TVs.

And to help numb the pain of watching the show, Beer Saloon is offering our readers a buy-one-get-one-free draft beer special.

So come on down and raise a glass of one of Beer Saloon’s many premium draft choices as we watch the television apocalypse unfold before our eyes!

Festivities begin at 9:30 p.m. There is no cost for admission. Must be 21+.

Beer Saloon is located at 1188 Gravesend Neck Road, corner of Sheepshead Bay Road. In addition to beverages, Beer Saloon has a full dinner menu.

(FYI: Beer Saloon is a SMALL place. First come, first serve!)

Michael Levitis Marina Levitis Rasputin Brighton Beach Show

Michael and Marina Levitis (Source: James Edstrom)

Rasputin (2670 Coney Island Avenue) co-owner Michael Levitis was sentenced to three years probation and fined $15,000 for lying to FBI agents about a bribe intended for State Senator Carl Kruger.

Levitis was arrested last summer for his alleged role as an intermediary between business owners wanting help from the politician, and was recorded telling another restaurateur that he needed to throw a fundraiser in Kruger’s behalf in return for assistance on an official business inspection. The businessman agreed to give Levitis $3,000, with $2,000 going to pay off Jason Koppel, Kruger’s chief of staff and campaign treasurer. He plead guilty in February and faced a maximum of six months in prison.

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Ari KaganNow that we’ve got our first real glimpse of Russian Dolls, the new Brighton Beach-based reality show to air on Lifetime, it was just a matter of time until the reviews came in from Russian leaders. After we published the video on Friday, Ari Kagan – whose credentials in the Russian-speaking community include a journalism career, a one-time candidacy for the State Assembly, being the current liaison to the Russian-speaking community for Comptroller Liu, and a rumored contender for Michael Nelson’s City Council seat – sent us the following note condemning the show:

There is no question in my mind that the Russian Dolls series will depict the Russian-speaking community in a distorted way, as a caricature, as a joke. Lifetime does not care about the thousands of great, beautiful, funny, smart and hard-working young Russian speaking women who attend colleges and universities, make money as paralegals, librarians, nurses, journalists and computer specialists. They are great daughters, sisters, wives and mothers. They don’t spend most of their time in nightclubs, bars or lounges. They don’t speak this dirty language and they hate vodka.

Of course, we do have our own bad apples, low lives and criminals, but they constitute a minority in the Russian speaking community. Lifetime wants to create a lot of fun and entertainment by throwing the reputation of Russian-speaking New Yorkers under the bus.

It looks like Kagan is throwing his lot in with John Lisyanskiy, who condemned the show’s title as synonymous with prostitution, and who authored a letter to Lifetime expressing concerns that the channel will be “reducing would-be contestants to vodka-drinking ethnic caricatures who ‘love attention’ and do little more than ‘eat, drink and party.’” Lisyanskiy is the founder of the Russian-Speaking American Leadership Caucus, and the letter was co-signed by 42 elected politicians and Russian-speaking activists.

We have a feeling, as the show gets closer to its August 11 premiere, Kagan won’t be the last voice we hear from.

Sheepshead Bites has snagged the first publicly-available look at Russian Dolls, the new Brighton Beach-based reality show that will air on Lifetime on August 11 at 10:30 p.m.

Lifetime says the show, which had the working title Brighton Beach, provides a “rare and entertaining look at Brighton Beach’s colorful multi-generational families whose dramas and dreams contend with their Russian heritage while living in this famous, alluring, vibrant and highly protective community.”

The series, originally pitched as the Russian response to the MTV hit Jersey Shore, continues to fuel chatter throughout the neighborhood, with some Russian-American leaders excited for the spotlight, and others worried about a poor depiction of the Russian community based on stereotypes. Everything from the name - a term for prostitutes – to some of the people it revolves around, has been criticized. Sheepshead Bites was the first news outlet to reveal a Brighton Beach reality show was in the works, breaking the story in February 2010.

We’ve been asked not to give too many details about the show away – and, yes, we’ve seen full character bios and episode synopses – but we will tell you that it focuses on eight local Russian-Americans.

And we’ve got the character rundown after the jump.

Michael Levitis Marina Levitis Rasputin Brighton Beach Show

Michael and Marina Levitis, two of Russian Dolls' stars (Source: James Edstrom)

Lifetime’s newest show, the Brighton Beach-themed reality series Russian Dolls, is taking another round of flack as Russian leaders zero in on the new title, saying it’s synonymous with one of their community’s bugaboos: escort services.

You might be more familiar with the show’s working title, Brighton Beach, which was originally conceived as a Russian-American response to MTV’s Jersey Shore. The concept was eventually rejected by MTV and picked up by Lifetime. First, some Russian leaders expressed concern the show might depict the community as a bunch of opulent, vodka-swilling party animals. Others defended Lifetime, taking at face value the A&E-owned network’s assertion that it would be a “multigenerational cast … [chronicling] several colorful families, with the show’s action centered on a popular local nightclub.” And their faith stayed firm after Sheepshead Bites revealed that the show would focus on the family of Rasputin owner Michael Levitis, who was recently caught up in an FBI probe allegedly acting as a middleman in a bribery scheme involving State Senator Carl Kruger.

But the name may be beyond the pale. “Russian Dolls” is a term frequently used to advertise Russian escort services and prostitution fronts, a detail not overlooked by the community’s leaders.

“It’s the most ugly name I’ve ever heard,” said Raisa Chernina, director of the Be Proud Foundation, a non-profit with roots in the Russian-American community. “The name speaks for itself. Russian Dolls is a very polite way of saying escorts.”

“They told me it was Russian Dolls and I said ‘My God.’ It’s like those Danielle Steel books,” Chernina added.

Russian Dolls: How are other Russian-American leaders reacting? Pretty much the same way. Keep reading.