Friday, December 12, 2003 | return to: celebrities


Celebrity Jews

by nate bloom

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A green Ford

Harrison Ford, 61, will receive the Distinguished Humanitarian Award from B'nai B'rith International in a banquet to be held in Los Angeles next February. The award, will honor Ford's work on behalf of the environment. The ceremony coincides with Tu B'Shevat, often referred to as the Jewish Arbor Day.

Ford is Jewish on his mother's side. When asked what religion he was raised, he has jokingly said, "Democrat." Actually, Ford's parents weren't practicing members of the religions they were born into. However, they did expose the young Harrison to services, now and again, at synagogues and churches.

One would guess that Ford's widowed mother, 83, will be at the B'nai B'rith banquet. She lives in Southern California and is reported to be very close to her son. Earlier this year, she appeared at the ceremony held to unveil Ford's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Ford, by the way, will begin filming "Indiana Jones IV" next year.

Kosher poker

The Bravo cable channel recently began a six-part series called "Celebrity Poker." The first game was on Dec. 2, and new games are shown at 9 p.m. each Tuesday. However, there's an extensive re-run schedule — the Dec. 9 game will, for example, will be shown many times during the next week. (See or your paper.)

Each week five celebrities play Texas Hold'em, a quick, exciting form of poker. The game continues until one player has won all the chips. All the celebrities are playing for charity, and will earn a minimum of $5,000 for their cause. The last game in the series matches all the winners of the previous weeks, playing for a grand prize of $250,000.

The show might be one of the most "Jewish" series ever. The idea came from Josh Malina, 37, the kosher-observant actor who joined the cast of "The West Wing" last year. He co-created the show with Hank Azaria, 39, who just picked up another Emmy for "The Simpsons." San Francisco native Kevin Pollak, 46, hosts and interviews the players.

David Schwimmer and Willy Garson were in the first round. Garson, 39, has had a distinguished acting career in a variety of roles. However, he is most associated with Stanford Blatch, Sarah Jessica's Parker's gay friend on "Sex and the City." Without giving away too much — Garson is the star of the first game. Incidentally, Garson recently told a gay publication that he is not gay in real life but that assumption has created some problems with his real-life romantic overtures.

Richard Schiff, 48, who won an Emmy as Toby Ziegler on "The West Wing," appears in the second game. Third-week Jewish players include Azaria and Michael Ian Black, 32. We profiled Black earlier this year. As we noted, Black has a multifaceted career as an actor and stand-up comedian.

The fourth week features actors Paul Rudd and Sarah Silverman. Rudd, 34, most recently appeared as Lisa Kudrow's fiancé on TV's "Friends." Silverman, 33, is all over the tube and movies. Among other roles, she plays the voice of Hadassah on Comedy Central's "Crank Yankers."

The fifth week features Mimi Rogers, Carrie Fisher, and David Cross. Cross, 38, an actor and comedian, plays Tobias Funke on the new Fox series "Arrested Development." Rogers, 47, has a long list of credits that includes co-producing and co-starring in the Holocaust film "The Devil's Arithmetic." Rogers' father, who was a Holocaust survivor, was Jewish. Her mother is not.

Like Rogers, Carrie Fisher, 47, is Jewish on her father's side. The daughter of Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds appears to identify as Jewish more than anything, and she married her now ex-husband, singer Paul Simon, in a Jewish ceremony. However, she isn't religious. Last month, Carrie appeared as Mark Feuerstein's mother on TV's "Good Morning, Miami." Fisher is only 15 years older than Feuerstein. This proves that there is only one really safe bet in Hollywood — once an actress is over 40, she can expect to get roles as incredibly youthful mothers.

Nate Bloom is the Oakland-based editor of


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