Celebrity Jews

Pesach nibbles

In this month’s Modern Maturity, Billy Crystal relates that Louis Armstrong came to a seder at Crystal’s childhood home. He was a guest of Crystal’s uncle, the famous music producer Milt Gabler. Armstrong, of course, was noted for his very raspy voice. Crystal’s grandmother came up to Armstrong and said, “Louis, have you ever tried just clearing your throat, just coughing it up?”

Meanwhile, Martha Stewart may be headed for the slammer, but she’s still on the Food TV Network. Stewart, Jewish celeb chef Joan Nathan and Wolfgang Puck (who has a Jewish wife) are dispensing Passover recipes all over the Food Network until April 8.

Some old shows that aren’t being aired still have the recipes on the FN Web site. Tip: Go to Foodnetwork.com and enter “Passover” in the search engine and you’ll pick up 55 very varied recipes. You’ll also pick up show times. And remember, kids — hiding the afikomen is not an SEC violation.

Hittin' the ol' matzah ball

The baseball season begins this week. Here’s our annual round-up of the Jewish players prepared with the help of Jewish Sports Review:

Shawn Green, the star L.A. Dodgers right-fielder, is looking to come back from a disappointing 2003 season hampered by knee problems. In January, Green was honored as one of the winners of the Hank Greenberg Sportsmanship Award, given by the American Jewish Historical Society.

Other Jewish MLB players include: reliever Al Levine, who went to the Detroit Tigers in the off-season; outfielder Gabe Kapler, who had a late-season surge that secured him a place on the BoSox roster; veteran catcher Brad Ausmus, who anchors the Houston Astros again (Ausmus is Jewish on his mother’s side).

Also Jewish on their mothers’ side are pitchers Scott Schoeneweis, a lefty reliever playing for the White Sox this year, and Pirates pitcher John Grabow, who made an amazing 2003 comeback. Meanwhile, pitcher Jason Marquis, who was traded to St. Louis in the off-season, looks to mount a comeback from his lousy 2003 showing with Atlanta. Finally, Phillies catcher Mike Lieberthal, who is Jewish on his father’s side, hopes to repeat his great 2003 season.

Two minor leaguers of note: Jake Wald, a promising shortstop now playing for the S.F. Giants’ Hagers-town (Md.) Suns, and Scott Feldman, a top college pitcher from Bur-lingame who has just begun his pro career with a Texas Rangers farm club.

Briefly noted

Re: Gibson’s Chanukah movie — it’s a publicity distraction, about as likely to be made as a punk-rock version of the life of Rabbi Akiba. However, we may change our opinion if the wire services report that obscure Eastern European Jewish actors are polishing up their resumes.

Opening Friday, April 2, is “Hellboy,” a touted blockbuster. This flick from a comic book has more than a few similarities to the Jewish folktale of “The Golem.” Veteran Jewish actor Ron Perlman, 54, plays a monstrous-looking creature who has to be careful to use his amazing powers for good. TV viewers may remember Perlman playing a similar character in the hit series “Beauty and the Beast.” As in “Beauty,” Perlman has a love interest — this time it is the attractive Selma Blair, 29. Blair has a number of films scheduled to open in the next year, and the former Jewish day school graduate appears to be trying to break big before her moment passes. Blair just showed her tushy in an artsy lay-out for the slick, new fashion glossy Flaunt magazine. Well, while every blue moon a tushy shot does boost an actress’ career, most of the time it is just seen as trying too hard.

You’ll have another chance to see Barbra Streisand‘s recent interview with James Lipton on Bravo’s “Inside the Actors’ Studio” at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 10. The program’s “most Jewish” moment came when an audience member asked Barbra why she was so popular with gays. Barbra said she thought the reason was that she was an outsider, by Hollywood standards — she wasn’t a “Sandra Dee” type — and wouldn’t change her N.Y. Jewish persona (nose job, etc.) to meet the then-expected WASPy mold. Seems to us that Lipton, himself, almost never asks a Jewish performer about anything Jewish, even though his father wrote for the Jewish Daily Forward as a young man. You know what God will say to Lipton should he make it to heaven? “James, what’s with all this French, and never a Yiddish word?”

Columnist Nate Bloom is the Oakland-based editor of www.Jewhoo.com.

Nate Bloom

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