Celebrity Jews

A serious Sandler

Adam Sandler takes on a serious dramatic role in “Reign Over Me,” which opens on Friday, March 23. Sandler plays a guy who emotionally shuts down following the death of his wife and children in the 9/11 attack. A rekindled friendship with his old college roommate (Don Cheadle) seems to be the key to restoring his mental stability.

“Reign Over Me” is directed and written by Mike Binder, the writer and star of the 2001 HBO series “The Mind of the Married Man.” He was also the writer/director of the 2003 film “The Upside of Anger,” which got good, if not great reviews.

Opening the same day is “The Last Mimzy,” starring Tim Hutton and Joely Richardson. It’s the story of two children who find a box they think contains toys. But as they play with the “toys,” they seem to get much smarter. A citywide blackout leads government investigators to the children and, eventually, to the toys’ secret.

“Last Mimzy” is from a sci-fi story that was a childhood favorite of director Robert Shaye. The screenplay is by seasoned Jewish writers Toby Emmerich and Bruce Joel Rubin (who won an Oscar for his script for “Ghost’). Shaye told the Detroit Jewish News that he met Emmerich when they were kids attending a Conservative synagogue in suburban Detroit.

Shaye is most famous as the head of New Line Cinema, which he started out of his apartment in 1967. Shaye built the company into a powerhouse whose films have won 17 Oscars, including those for the “Lord of the Rings” movies.

Dancing with Ziering

The hit ABC series “Dancing with the Stars” began its new season on Monday, March 19 (8 p.m.).

This year’s celebrity dancers include handsome actor Ian Ziering, 42, who co-starred on TV’s “Beverly Hills 90210.”

Ziering’s career has sputtered since “90210” ended. The publicity from “Dancing” can’t hurt — and the actor does have a little dance training. He told TV Guide that when he was 12, “My mom felt that it was important for me to be a triple threat. So, to that end I had singing, dancing and acting lessons.”

Briefly noted

Alan Arkin, winner of this year’s Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, has signed on to a film version of the 1960s hit TV series, “Get Smart,” which was co-created by Mel Brooks.

Arkin will play the evil head of “Kaos,” while his “Little Miss Sunshine” co-star, Steve Carell, will play “Control” secret agent Maxwell Smart.

Moving on, as you might have heard, Marvel Comics is killing off “Captain America,” the famous comic book character who was created in 1941 by the Jewish duo of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. Kirby (born Jacob Kurtzberg) died in 1994, but Simon is still alive and well at 93. He told a public radio interviewer that he is now “sitting shiva” for Captain America.

Singer/songwriter Paul Simon has been selected as the first recipient of the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize for Popular Song for his lifetime contributions to music. The award is named in honor of Jewish composer George Gerswhin and his lyricist brother, IRA.

The award will be given annually by the Library of Congress. Simon will perform in concert in Washington, D.C. on May 23 to celebrate the event. Other artists, not yet named, will also perform.

Simon told the Associated Press, “I am grateful to be the recipient of the Gershwin Prize and doubly honored to be the first.”