Celebrity Jews

All in the mishpoche

The Connecticut Jewish Ledger recently had a fun piece about local Jews who are related to a Jewish celebrity.

Their finds included cousins of actresses Linda Lavin (“Alice”) and Ari Meyers (“Kate and Allie”); a rabbi who is the grandfather of young TV actor/teen fave Ricky Ullman (“Phil of the Future”); and a Jewish married couple who have ties to comedian Larry David and Judy Sheindlin, the TV judge. Judge Judy is the husband’s cousin, while the wife’s sister is Larry David’s real-life Jewish wife.

Also interviewed were the Connecticut parents of Lisa Brown. Brown lives in San Francisco with her husband, famous author Daniel Handler (“Lemony Snicket”). Brown’s parents kvelled about Lisa’s new baby son, what a good father Daniel is, and how well their daughter’s own writing career was going.

Brown is the author of several “tongue in cheek” picture board books that are part of a series aimed at parents entitled “Baby Be of Use.” In June, Harper Collins will publish her picture book for children, called “How to Be.”

Sopranos return

“The Sopranos” returns to HBO on Sunday, March 12. Twelve episodes of the award-winning gangster show will air this year and the series will conclude with eight shows airing in 2007.

This Sunday’s episode co-stars Jewish actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler as Meadow, Tony Soprano’s daughter. Sigler was billed as Jamie-Lynn DiScala for the last year or so. However, her real-life brief marriage to her former manager, A.J. DiScala, ended last year amid reports that he was less than faithful, and the actress is again using Sigler, her maiden name. (I guess Mr. DiScala should be grateful that Jamie Sigler’s real-life father is head of a national softball league and not a mob family.)

Guest starring on Sunday’s show is Jerry Adler (as Mafia “Jewish associate” Hesh Rabkin) and David Margulies as Neil Mink, Tony’s lawyer. Also, advance reports say that Will Janowitz, a talented young Jewish actor, will reappear this year as Meadow’s fiancé, Finn DeTrolio.

Winger speaks up

Actress Debra Winger, 50, recently appeared at a luncheon for the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado, where she candidly answered questions and was a hit with the crowd. Her talk was covered by Denver’s Rocky Mountain News.

The actress said that she pretty much stopped doing movies 10 years ago to take care of her ailing mother and one of her three sons. “My son was being home-schooled and he really wanted to stay in one place. I had a really good run, but I didn’t want to be greedy about it. And I wasn’t interested in the parts they were offering me. … But I am [open] to [doing] interesting stories.”

One of the attendees, in an amusing sidelight, told the News about “unexpectedly” meeting Winger just before she spoke at the luncheon. Here’s the account:

After Ethiopian Jewish jewelry maker Bizu Riki Mullu finished telling her heart-wrenching story about the 20-year quest to move her family out of their homeland to Israel, Geri Bader Salzman and Leslie Fishbein ran into each other in the ladies room before Winger was set to go on.

“We were talking about how marvelous the Ethiopian woman was,” Salzman said. “I told Leslie, ‘I bet that Debra Winger won’t be nearly as interesting as that Riki woman was.'”

Winger, standing unnoticed at the sink, shot back, “I bet she is.”

The writer, an Oaklander, can be reached at [email protected].

Nate Bloom

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