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About The Story
"I always wanted to write a story about friendship,” says Mike Binder, writer-director of Columbia Pictures' new drama, Reign Over Me, which stars Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle as old friends who reconnect after years apart. The two become lifelines for each other as each experiences a difficult passage in his life. "Every one of us needs a friend to help us through the tough times. This whole movie is about communication – two men who, together, learn to start talking.”

At the center of Reign Over Me is the relationship between Charlie Fineman (Sandler) and Alan Johnson (Cheadle), former college roommates who meet again by chance after many years. Charlie has lost his entire family. He is a man whose grief is so great that he has isolated himself and withdrawn from his former life. While Alan's life seems perfect in comparison, he is nevertheless overwhelmed by his family and professional responsibilities and needs support in order to learn to see the blessings he has. "One of the common denominators for people who have endured the loss of a loved one is that they are pulled out by their friends and family, and I wanted to show that,” says Binder. "Alan, on the other hand, feels he's unable to communicate what he needs. He's in a great marriage, but he's not showing up for it. The soul of this movie is the story of two men who don't have anyone to talk to but who, as the movie progresses, find they have each other.”

Around Sandler and Cheadle, Binder cast a group of veteran actors and rising stars. Jada Pinkett Smith stars as Janeane Johnson, Alan's stalwart and beautiful wife, and Liv Tyler is Angela Oakhurst, a young therapist whose earnest desire to help people may just be the stepping stone Charlie needs to help him on his way to recovery. Saffron Burrows plays Donna Remar, a beautiful but troubled young woman who enters both Charlie's and Alan's lives in unexpected ways. Rounding out the cast is Donald Sutherland as Judge Raines. Binder, a critically praised actor in his own right, cast himself as Charlie's business manager, Sugarman.

Attracting such an accomplished ensemble cast is a testament to the strength of Binder's story and rich characterizations. "Mike writes with a cast in mind,” says Jack Binder, the writer-director's brother and the film's producer. "Once they're on board, he'll work with them to build their back story and tailor the material to their strengths. Initially, though, I think actors are simply attracted to the beauty of his writing.”

As an actor, Mike Binder is sensitive to the acting process and creates a trusting, collaborative environment. Co-producer Rachel Zimmerman adds, "Mike doesn't like taking script notes from many people, but an actor he will always listen to.”

The film's setting also becomes a character in the film. Many of the exterior shots take advantage of New York's restaurants and bars, cinemas and apartment buildings. Rather than the landmarks and vistas that make the city famous, Binder focuses his lens on the everyday places that give the city its character.

"All of those sequences where Charlie and Alan go scootering at night, eating Chinese at three in the morning – all of that is part of how a person would live in New York were they a little bit lonely and troubled or just wanting freedom. The city comes to represent a lot about the way they feel,” says actress Saffron Burrows.

"It's a New York story,” states Zimmerman. "The decision to film there was one of the most important creative decisions in pre-production. So much of the film is Adam Sandler's character riding around in the streets on his scooter in the cold. This character could only have been captured in New York itself.”

The crew covered a lot of ground over nearly a month of shooting. "We used every opportunity to get as much of the exteriors, backg

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