Steven Spielberg Made His Late Mother a Movie Star — for 4 Minutes

The director's new film debuts with the reopening of The Milky Way, the kosher restaurant his mom Leah Adler operated for nearly 40 years before her death in 2017 at age 97: "It shows every aspect of her."
Michael Kovac/Getty Images; Ron Galella/WireImage; Istock
Steven Spielberg has made his late mother a movie star — for four minutes.

Steven Spielberg’s latest film, an untitled short about his late mother Leah Adler, will debut on Feb. 18, when the Pico-Robertson district kosher restaurant she long operated before passing in 2017 reopens following a renovation and food overhaul.

The four-minute narrative, run on a loop in a corner of The Milky Way, depicts the vivacious Adler’s multitudinous facets: ballet-dancing, fly-fishing, joking around in her restaurant’s kitchen — all soundtracked to a piano performance Spielberg’s father recorded of Adler in the 1960s.

“It shows every aspect of her,” says sister Nancy Spielberg, who’s been closely involved in the Milky Way revival, which has preserved favorites (blintzes, cheesecake, potato pancakes) while bringing in consultant Phil Kastel, previously of the Grill on the Alley, to update the menu, including a new Cajun fish sandwich the director (who from time to time used to cook himself matzoh brie on-site) has already green-lit. 

A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.