Celebrity Jews

Roasting Bill

William Shatner, 75, who plays Denny Crane in “Boston Legal,” is up for the 2006 Emmy for best supporting actor in a drama series. (The Emmys are on NBC on Sunday, Aug. 27).

Last May, Shatner visited Israel to launch the William Shatner/Jewish National Fund Therapeutic Riding Consortium Endowment for Israel. Shatner plans to help raise $10 million to provide horse-riding programs for disabled children of any religious background.

This is all nice — but not as much fun as the upcoming “Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner” promises to be. (Airs Sunday, August 20, at 10 p.m.) While comics have lampooned Shatner before, he remains a gold mine of comedic delights — from his easily imitated speaking style, to his larger-than-life roles, to his obvious egotistical delight in being Bill Shatner — the guy who has faced down Klingons and ageist Hollywood executives.

Maybe the best thing about Shatner is that he actually seems to enjoy mocking himself. He knows he’s one-of-a-kind, and just goes with it.

Other Emmy nominees

The other Jewish nominees in the acting categories are Kyra Sedgwick (“Closer”); Debra Messing (“Will and Grace”); Lisa Kudrow (“The Comeback”); Larry David (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”); and Jeremy Piven (“Entourage”).

Honorable mention should go to Michael J. Fox, who is nominated for a guest shot on “Boston Legal.” Despite his well-known battle with Parkinson’s disease, Fox has managed to turn in good performances in TV guest shots and to be an active spokesman for stem cell research.

Last year, Fox spoke about stem cells at the Reform movement’s “Consultation on Conscience” conference in Washington, D.C. Fox noted that his wife, actress Tracy Pollan, is Jewish, and his children are being raised Jewish. As a matter of fact, an acquaintance tells me he was present when Fox’s son was bar mitzvahed in New York a few years ago and he heard Michael turn to a friend and say it was the “proudest day of his life.”

Leder leads

“Vanished,” a new Fox series, premieres on Monday, Aug. 21 at 9 p.m. The show combines elements of “CSI ” and “24.” The wife of a senator disappears and the search for her “uncovers evidence that can potentially shake the foundations of American society.”

“Vanished” is produced and directed by Mimi Leder, 53. She is one of the few women to make it as a top TV director (“ER”) and to have success helming action films (“Deep Impact”).

Mimi’s father, Paul Leder, served as an American army medic during WWII and helped liberate Buchenwald. After the war, he became a B-movie director. Mimi’s mother, Etyl Leder, a Belgian Jew and a concert pianist, was the only member of her immediate family to survive Auschwitz.

Take two tablets

David Wain, best known as one-third of the comic trio “Stella,” is about to start making “Ten,” a satire that “spoofs” the Ten Commandments. This indie film is directed and co-written by Wain, 37. The big cast of “Ten” includes kosher thespians Ron Silver, Liev Schreiber, Winona Ryder, Paul Rudd, and Adam Brody.

I hope that Wain’s script takes advantage of this strong cast. He and his Stella buddies (Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black) have a cool aura, but they write material which I find to be rarely funny outside of short sound bites. What’s funny is subjective — but I agree with most critics who found Wain’s 2001 film “Wet Hot American Summer” to be disjointed, with only a few amusing scenes. The same criticism was made of the trio’s 2005 Comedy Central TV show, called “Stella,” and it was axed after one season.

Columnist Nate Bloom, an Oaklander, can be reached at middleoftheroad1@aol.com.

Nate Bloom

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