Celebrity Jews

Diamond shines

On Tuesday, Nov. 8, legendary Jewish rocker Neil Diamond releases “12 Songs,” his most-anticipated CD in decades. Top music producer Rick Rubin, who revived Johnny Cash’s career, sought out Diamond and got him to do what he got Cash to do — write “stripped-down” songs and get back to the more personal material that marked both Cash and Diamond’s early work.

Diamond’s first hits like “I’m a Believer” were straight-ahead bouncy rock ‘n’ roll tunes. While popular, his later tunes and current stage show have been called overproduced and Las Vegas-style phony pop glitz. So, this CD will tell us whether Diamond, 64, still has a rock ‘n’ roll soul. (Early reviews are promising. Newsweek called the new CD “Diamond’s best work in 30 years.”)

The hot ticket

Defamer.com reports that actor Leonard Nimoy and actor/director Jon Favreau, accompanied by their wives, were at Yom Kippur services at Temple Israel in Los Angeles. Nimoy, the site reports, read the Book of Jonah (along with his wife) as part of the afternoon service. (“Pretty cool” is how Defamer describes the reading.)

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Jewish Journal notes the presence of actor Larry Miller and the delightful character actor Stephen Tobolowsky at services at Congregation Beth Meier in North Hollywood.

A personal source tells me that the patients and staff of Cedars Sinai-Medical Center in Los Angeles were happy to see Steven Spielberg attending Yom Kippur services at the sanctuary at the hospital. Spielberg, I’m told, was given the honor of carrying the Torah and at least one of his children followed him up the aisle. The center is one of Spielberg’s many charities.

Rated G, for great

Favreau directed a new movie “Zathura,” opening on Friday, Nov. 11, which is a magical adventure film for kids. The film and Favreau’s direction got an absolute rave in a pre-release review by the Hollywood Reporter: “Favreau again delivers that rare beast — a family film that even childless adults can enjoy … “

The Reporter review was referring to Favreau’s huge hit, “Elf,” which became, despite the lack of really big names, one of the biggest box office hits of all time.

Favreau is married to Joya Tillem Favreau, a Jewish physician affiliated with Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. They have two children. She grew up in the city of Sonoma, where her mother, Susan Tillem, still lives. Tillem tells me that the family has long belonged to Congregation Shir Shalom in Cotati and that her brother, attorney Len Tillem, is the host of a popular show on KGO radio on the weekends where he answers legal questions from listeners.

Mazel tov

To Mayim Bialik, 29, who just had her first child, a son, with husband Michael Stone. Bialik is best known as the child star of the hit TV sitcom “Blossom,” which ran from 1991 to 1995.

After the series ended, Bialik graduated from UCLA and did graduate work in neuroscience at the same school. While at UCLA, she was active in the campus Jewish community and worked hard to get a kosher meal option for dorm students.

Bialik has kept her hand in acting — doing voice-over work and a few guest shots, including an appearance early this season on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

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

Nate Bloom

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