Meet David Gregory

As you probably heard, reporter David Gregory, 38, has been named the new permanent host of NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

A native of Los Angeles, Gregory is the son of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother. He was raised Jewish, but fell away from practice until recently. Encouraged by his non-Jewish wife, he has become more observant over the last 18 months — studying Jewish texts with a rabbi and not working on Yom Kippur.

He told the Washington Jewish Week: “What I decided was what mattered was not just a sense of actual knowledge or attending High Holy Day services, it was to understand how to live Jewishly … [and] find daily meaning in Judaism … Shabbat has become a lot more important to me as a way to stop and think about what matters most to me … A bedtime Sh’ma with [my] children is a way to model Judaism for them and create a Jewish narrative in their lives that’s not just obligatory … I was born into a tradition. Who am I to let it slip through my fingers?”

A kiss from the prez

Chanukah is the time of miracles, and a miracle of sorts happened when President Bush gave vocal political opponent Barbra Streisand, 66, a kiss on the cheek at a Dec. 8 White House ceremony. Streisand was at the White House because she is one this year’s recipients of the prestigious Kennedy Center award for lifetime achievement in the arts. The White House shindig was followed by a stage tribute at Washington’s Kennedy Center.

Queen Latifah opened the stage tribute to Streisand, saying that “[Barbra] took the stage like butter on a bagel.” Latifah was followed by Broadway singing star Idina Menzel (“Wicked”) and pop singer Beyoncé Knowles. They both belted out some Streisand classics.

The other honorees were actor Morgan Freeman, country singer George Jones, dancer/choreographer Twyla Tharp, and rock musicians Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey of “The Who.” (A tape of the stage tribute airs on CBS on Dec. 30 at 9 p.m.)

Coming up on the big screen

Each year, a lot of the biggest movies open in New York and Los Angeles just before the end of the year so they can be in the running to get an Oscar next February. Here are just some of the “biggies” with Jewish connections that will open in the Bay Area just before or just after the New Year:

“The Wrestler,” stars Mickey Rourke as a washed-up pro wrestler seeking a comeback. Evan Rachel Wood, 21, co-stars as his estranged adult daughter. The movie, which got good festival reviews, is a comeback both for Rourke and the flick’s director, Darren Aronofsky, 39. Aronofsky’s last film, “The Fountain,” starring his fiancée, Rachel Weisz, 37, was a box office and critical disaster.

Speaking of Weisz, she co-stars as a sweet young rich woman whom Adrien Brody, 35, plans to con out of her money in the “The Brothers Bloom.” Brody and Mark Ruffalo co-star as a pair of top Jewish con men who specialize in swindling the very wealthy. While the brothers are identified as Jewish, their Jewishness is hardly a factor in the flick.

The comedy “Bedtime Stories” stars Adam Sandler, 43, as a handyman who tells his niece and nephew lavish bedtime tales that magically begin to become true. The director is Adam Shankman (“Hairspray”).

The handsome Gabriel Macht, 36, has worked steadily in film and TV, but he may have a star-making role in “The Spirit,” a big budget action film in which he plays a cop who returns from the dead to fight crime. Based on a comic book series by the late, great Will Eisner, “The Spirit” co-stars Scarlett Johansson as a femme fatale who is allied with Macht’s evil foe.

Columnist Nate Bloom, an Oaklander, can be reached at [email protected].

Nate Bloom

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