Celebrity jews

At the movies

If only it was in “Smell-O-Vision” and they handed out samples at every showing: I’m speaking of the documentary “Deli Man,” which opens in Berkeley and San Francisco on March 6. Here is the official description of the film, directed by Erik Greenberg Anjou, 44:

Ziggy Gruber

“Jewish culture reflects the heart of a vital ethnic history. As that culture continues to shift and adapt alongside mainstream America, delicatessen food — as its name suggests — remains a beloved communal delicacy. In Houston, Texas, third-generation deli man Ziggy Gruber has built arguably the finest delicatessen restaurant in the U.S. Kenny & Ziggy’s — augmented by the stories of iconic delis such as Katz’s, 2nd Avenue Deli, Nate ’n Al, Carnegie, and the Stage — embodies a tradition indelibly linked to its savory, nostalgic foods.”

Interviews in the film include deli mavens Jerry Stiller, Alan Dershowitz, Freddie Klein, Fyvush Finkel and Larry King. The documentary also highlights new stars in the deli world, including Wise Sons in San Francisco and Caplansky’s in Toronto.  (Sadly, Wise Sons had a setback after the Jan. 28 Mission District fire that destroyed its production kitchen and bakery.)

Opening Friday, Feb. 27 in the Bay Area is “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem,” about the difficult process a woman goes through to obtain a divorce in Israel. A Golden Globe nominee for best foreign film, “Gett” was co-written and co-directed by Ronit Elkabetz, 50, and her brother, Shlomi Elkabetz, 46.

Also opening Feb. 27 is “Map to the Stars,” a dark satire about Hollywood written by Bruce Wagner, 60, and directed by veteran David Cronenberg, 71. The complex plot focuses on the plight of a former child star (Evan Bird) and an aging actress (Julianne Moore) whose career is in decline. Moore won a best actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for her performance.


‘Dig’ this

Jason Isaacs

The 10-part USA network miniseries “Dig” starts at 10 p.m. Thursday, March 5. Much of the series is set in Israel and the pilot was filmed there. Here’s the official description: “When Peter Connelly [played by British actor Jason Isaacs, 51], an FBI agent recently stationed in Jerusalem, begins investigating the murder of a young American, he realizes that he has uncovered an ancient international conspiracy that threatens to change the course of human history. Certain that the dangerous prophecy is nearing fruition, Peter must race against the clock to unravel its mystery.” Anne Heche co-stars as the agent’s boss and casual lover.




Local star goes national

Steve Birnbaum

The U.S. men’s national soccer team is composed of pro players who compete every four years for the World Cup and, during “off years” like 2015, play some “friendly” matches with other national teams. On Jan. 28, the U.S. played Chile and the starting lineup included two Jewish players: DeAndre Yedlin, 21, who plays for a U.K. pro team, and Steve Birnbaum, 24, who plays for the D.C. United MLS club.

A Southern California native, Birnbaum played for U.C. Berkeley from 2009 to 2013. In 2012, he won a silver medal with the U.S. team at the Pan American Maccabi Games in Brazil. (The U.S. team plays Denmark on March 25 on ESPN and Switzerland on March 31 on Fox Sports 1. The starting lineup usually changes every game.) n


A must-see biography

George Rosenkranz, 98, a chemist and the former head of Palo Alto–based Syntex pharmaceuticals, is a remarkable man who has led a remarkable life. He is one of the creators of the birth-control pill and other incredibly important drugs. An industry group made a film about prominent chemists that played on some PBS stations last month. The 20-minute section on Rosenkranz can be viewed on YouTube (www.tinyurl.com/loyv96q) — he’s a funny and informative interview subject and the film is surprisingly entertaining. Also read his Wikipedia entry for a list of his many ties to Israel.

Columnist  Nate Bloom, an Oaklander, can be reached at middleoftheroad1@aol.com.

Nate Bloom

Nate Bloom writes the "Celebrity Jews" column for J.