Jews in the News: Jonathan Gold, Debra Winger and Gary Shandling

At the Movies; Streaming into Your Home

JONATHAN GOLD, 60ish, is the only food critic to win the Pulitzer Prize and he’s the subject of “City of Gold,” a documentary which opened in limited release last week. Gold is an expert on all the immigrant food offerings of his native Los Angeles (including every style of Jewish deli as well as more exotic Jewish food, like Yemeni Jewish offerings). The film follows Gold as he combs through colorful neighborhoods in his pick-up truck, looking for the hidden immigrant restaurant gem anywhere and everywhere. His razor sharp wit and interest in people’s personal stories turns his food journalism into something very universal. By the way, when Gold was a UCLA college freshman, he briefly worked in the kitchen of Milky Way, a kosher restaurant owned and run by LEAH ADLER, STEVEN SPIELBERG’s mother. (No doubt that this acclaimed documentary will be available in media outlets other than theaters in the near future—so look for it.)

Premiering last week on HBO was a documentary (“Everything is Copy”) about writer/director NORA EPHRON, who died in 2012, age 71. The filmmaker is JACOB BERNSTEIN, 39, a NY Times writer who is the son of Nora Ephron and Ephron’s ex- husband, famous journalist CARL BERNSTEIN, 72. Nora had one other child, MAX BERNSTEIN, 37, Jacob’s brother. Max declined to participate in the documentary. However, Jacob did get a very large number of her mother’s famous friends and colleagues to participate. He even got his father, who had declined to talk about his marital infidelity before, to address this tender subject (Carl’s philandering was the subject of the Ephron novel, “Hearburn,” which became a MIKE NICHOLS film in 1983. Nichols, who died last year, was interviewed by Jacob.) First a journalist, Ephron later broke into screenwriting in a big way (“When Harry Met Sally”) and went on to write and direct hit films like “Sleepless in Seattle” and “Julia and Julie”.  Her friends tell very intimate stories about her—but the film’s most dramatic angle is the fact that the “open book” Ephron kept her battle with leukemia a secret from all but a very few.

On April 1, Netflix will begin streaming the first ten episodes of a comedy called “The Ranch.” Ashton Kutcher stars as a former pro football player who returns to Colorado help run the family’s ranch.  Co-stars include Danny Masterston as Kutcher’s brother, Sam Elliot (a Western movie/TV show icon), as his father, and DEBRA WINGER, 62, as the brothers’ mother. It’s possible that Kutcher and Winger talked about Israel during filming breaks. Winger, whose three children were raised Jewish, toured Israel on a teen trip and visited again in 2008. Kabbalah Centre devotee Kutcher has visited Israel at least three times for spiritual and business reasons.

Quote of the Week and an Update

“Batman v. Superman” opened last week to so/so notices, which is ominous for a movie that has to make $800 million to break even. However, “W” magazine had nothing but praise for the dress GAL GADOT, who played “Wonder Woman” in the flick, wore to the premiere: “Where critical reception for [the] blockbuster may be lukewarm so far, Gadot’s red carpet look was anything but. Its plunging neckline and shimmering fabric prove what we suspected already — it’s Wonder Woman’s world, we’re just living in it.”

In my last column, I gave incomplete info on GAL GADOT and EZRA MILLER (“The Flash”) upcoming super-hero roles. Gadot, 30, will appear in two upcoming Justice League flicks (2017 and 2019), as well as a movie called “Wonder Woman” (2017).  Miller, 23, will appear in the two Justice League flicks as well as his own “Flash-starring” movie, to be released in 2018.

Garry Shandling

I can’t add much to the extensive coverage of GARRY SHANDLING’s death last week, age 66.  I can urge you to watch the Jan. 16, 2016 episode of “Comedian in Cars Getting Coffee” which was eerily entitled, “It's Great That Garry Shandling Is Still Alive".  I watched it a couple of months ago, and I found the episode funny, touching, and very Jewish.  I viewed it again the day Shandling died, and it is now a remarkably intimate (if sometimes sad) tribute to Shandling’s life. Shandling and host JERRY SEINFELD, 62, discussed their parallel careers and visited many of their old haunts, like a famous comedy club. I won’t spoil the Jewish moments by reciting them here.  The series is on Crackle, which is a free website. Crackle (and this episode) can also be accessed, for free, on Roku and other streaming devices.


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