Shira Haas in "Unorthodox"
Shira Haas in "Unorthodox"

A big honor for Shira Haas; Ed Asner is still working; Leslie Odom Jr.’s Hanukkah song; etc.

Rockin’ in the new year

What did you do on New Year’s Eve? Celebs were working, or some of them were. Paula Abdul and Doja Cat performed on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” on ABC. And Mayim Bialik joined a large cast to perform at Fox’s NYE bash, coincidentally promoting her new show (on … Fox!) about a cat café owner, “Call Me Kat.” It debuted on Jan. 3.

Asner keeps going

At 91, Ed Asner is 77 years older than his co-star in his new film, “Tiger Within.” In it, he plays a Holocaust survivor who takes in and tries to help an angry, runaway teen sex worker with a swastika on her leather jacket, played by 14-year-old newcomer Margot Josefsohn. Filmed on a shoestring budget on the streets of Los Angeles, including a scene at Canter’s Deli, the movie illuminates the story of two damaged people and the bridge of compassion they build. The 98-minute film is available for now on

A deep commitment

Former NBA basketballer Amar’e Stoudemire opened up at a recent forum for philanthropists by talking about the pull he’s always felt toward Israel. Stoudemire’s family connections with the Hebrew Israelites first drew him to the country, and he finalized his Orthodox conversion in 2020. He said his life made a sharp turn toward humility from his VIP lifestyle. “I truly had to humble myself completely, to go from this top-level situation to more of a downgrade, but for the sake of Torah,” he said.

Haas on end-of-year list

Forbes recently released its “30 under 30” list for Hollywood and the entertainment field, and Israeli actor Shira Haas is on it, a significant honor for someone who’s been on the acting scene for only six years. The 25-year-old Israeli star already has received an Emmy nomination and heaps of praise for her performances on hit shows “Shtisel” and “Unorthodox.”

Acting, singing and parenting in the pandemic

Broadway actor Nicolette Robinson and her husband, fellow actor Leslie Odom Jr., are having an eventful run. The two starred together in the web anthology “Love in the Time of Corona,” and Robinson made a guest appearance on Odom’s Christmas album, singing the Hanukkah songMa’oz Tzur.” With Robinson pregnant with the couple’s second child, Odom announced Dec. 17 that he was quarantining — in the same house — after being exposed to the coronavirus while an in-person guest on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show on Dec. 9, one day before she announced she had tested positive for the virus.

Rainbow in the dark

Israeli reality TV star Asaf Goren has done a lot of different things. He’s competed on dance challenge shows and dating shows, won Israel’s “Big Brother” and now is making headlines for a duet he’s created with pop icon Boy George called “Rainbow in the Dark.” “When I sent him an initial sketch of my verse in English, he got back to me and said he also wanted a verse in Hebrew, that demand was entirely his own,” Goren said in an interview with the Israeli news outlet Ynet.

Maya Mirsky
Maya Mirsky

Maya Mirsky is a J. Staff Writer based in Oakland.