He’s the Key to ‘B&B’

"Greenwich Village Hooligans"? Gee, why didn't he think of that, chuckles director/writer (with Michael Jaeger) Josh Shelov of what he could have called "The Best and the Brightest."

Because, probably, the writer of "Green Street Hooligans" — Shelov's acclaimed other major credit — would have been repeating himself. And, one thing's for sure: Shelov is an original.

It shines through best with "Best," for which Shelov owes Owen, his now 8-year-old, a screenplay-concept credit.

"I got a taste of the selection mishugas," says the father of three, "when we were thinking of putting Owen in an exclusive school. I said, 'This needs to be satirized,' " he recalls of the parody-primed process.

Oh, Holocaust, his Holocaust: "That scene is very meaningful to me because I really believe a good comedy will go right up to the edge of offending people," and naming the tome chosen for the film's book-club discussion O Holocaust! My Holocaust! went right up to the barbed wire.

What would Elie Weisel say? It says a lot about Shelov's brilliant screenplay that he pulled it off.

"Jewish people," he says admiringly of his landsmen, "are not exempt from savage humor."

It hurts only when he laughs? Shelov's not hurting from fans of his Philly-shot (and partially funded) film of pre-school daze. He admits he's schooled in "the traditions of great comedy," and great Jewish comics and directors, and toots their horns, while critics have touted Shelov/Jaeger's film as being on a "Tootsie" roll — a deft compliment not falling on deaf ears.

"I consider 'Tootsie' one of the greatest comedies ever made," he says.

While the film's main character poses as a poet, no poseur is Shelov: He is a poet of punchlines, versed in the Seinfeld style of sonnets.

His next film? An Orthodox couple seeking to get their kid into an exclusive yeshiva. "It's already cast," he deadpans, ever the kibitzer.

Do the parents of this wise-ass Yale-grad yukster get the joke? "I'm a disgrace to my whole family," says Shelov, in his best and brightest mode of self-mockery. 



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