Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller
are, as we write this, the stars of 2004’s two highest-grossing English-language
motion pictures, “50 First Dates” and “Along
Came Polly.” Will Ferrell and Steve Martin
were the stars of the two highest-grossing comedies of
2003’s second half, “Elf” and “Cheaper
by the Dozen.”
What Sandler, Stiller, Ferrell and Martin
all have in common is their backgrounds with NBC’s “Saturday Night
Live,” and the show’s alumni continue to star
in an astonishing number of top-grossing motion pictures.
This month we look at what some of the show’s most
successful cast members have in the works.
If the release calendar has a white
hot SNL nexus, it’s
almost certainly DreamWorks’ “Anchorman,” which
was written by SNL writers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay
(“A Night at the Roxbury”), was directed by
McKay, and stars no fewer than eight current or former
SNL cast members, including Ferrell (“Elf”),
Ben Stiller (“Starsky & Hutch”), David
Koechner (“My Boss’s Daughter”), Chris
Parnell (“Down With Love”), Maya Rudolph (“50
First Dates”), Fred Armisen (“Eurotrip”),
Amy Poehler (“Mean Girls,” “Envy”)
and Jerry Minor (Comedy Central’s “Trigger
Happy TV”). The July 9 release is a comedy, set in
the 1970s, about a beloved news anchorman whose perfect
hair, raging hormones and inflated ego are no match for
an ambitious female newscaster who has actually mastered
the craft of journalism. Former SNL hosts Christina Applegate
(“Wonderland”), Fred Willard (“American
Wedding”), and Vince Vaughn (“Starsky & Hutch”)
co-star, as does Steve Carell (“Bruce Almighty”),
who appears never to have appeared on SNL at all.
Carell reteams with Ferrell for “Melinda and Melinda,” the
latest from writer-director Woody Allen (“Anything
Else”). As usual with an Allen film, the plot is
a closely guarded secret. Co-stars include Radha Mitchell
(“Phone Booth”), Amanda Peet (“Something’s
Gotta Give”), Vinessa Shaw (“40 Days and 40
Nights”), Chloë Sevigny (“Shattered Glass”),
Jonny Lee Miller (“Dracula 2000,” “Mindhunters”),
Josh Brolin (“Hollow Man”), Zak Orth (“Wet
Hot American Summer”), Wallace Shawn (“The
Haunted Mansion”), Gene Saks (“Deconstructing
Harry”), Brooke Smith (“Bad Company”)
and Chiwetel Ejiofor (“Love Actually”). Fox
Searchlight expects it sometime in the fall.
Ferrell is set to play Darrin Stevens opposite
Samantha in “Bewitched.” The big-screen look
at the courtship of a straight-laced ad man and his supernaturally
powerful future wife is based on the 1964-1972 TV series
and will be written and directed by Nora Ephron (“You’ve
Got Mail,” “Hanging Up”). Filming was
set to begin by the end of April, with Sony planning a
June 2005 release.
“The Wendell Baker
Ferrell in a comedy about a reformed con man who gets a
job at a retirement
center, where the residents help him win back his girlfriend.
Actor-brothers Luke Wilson (“Legally Blonde 2: Red,
White & Blonde,” “Around the World in 80
Days”) and Andrew Wilson (“Charlie’s
Angels: Full Throttle”) make their feature directorial
debuts from a screenplay by Luke and Owen Wilson (“The
Royal Tenenbaums”). Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Eva
Mendes (“Stuck On You”), Seymour Cassel (“Stuck
On You”), Harry Dean Stanton (“The Big Bounce”),
Kris Kristofferson (“The Big Bounce”), and
Eddie Griffin (“My Baby’s Daddy”) star.
It has yet to secure a domestic distributor.
Ferrell then hotfoots it to “Kicking
and Screaming.” It’s
a comedy about a mild-mannered man who coaches his 10-year-old
son’s soccer team, and what happens when he finds
his players competing against a team coached by his own
fiercely competitive father. Jesse Dylan (“American
Wedding”) directs from a screenplay by Leo Benvenuti & Steve
Rudnick (“the “Santa Clause” movies).
Ferrell’s co-stars include Robert Duvall “Secondhand
Lions”) as the father, Steven Anthony Lawrence (“Cheaper
by the Dozen”), Josh Hutcherson (“American
Splendor”), Kate Walsh (“Under the Tuscan Sun”),
former football coach Mike Ditka, Musetta Vander (“The
Cell”) and Matt Winston (“The Core”).
Universal has yet to set a release date.
“Winter Passing” is a change of pace for Ferrell. The drama is about
a young girl who visits her estranged novelist father after seven years and finds
his home full of eccentric strangers. Adam Rapp makes his feature directorial
debut from his own screenplay. Ferrell’s co-stars incude Ed Harris (“Radio”),
Zooey Deschanel (“Elf”), Amelia Warner (“Quills”) and
Amy Madigan (“Pollock”).
Ferrell provides the voice of the Man in
the Yellow Hat in “Curious George.” The
animated comedy is about the precocious silent primate who leaves the jungles
of Africa for a series of misadventures. It’s based on the children’s
books by Margaret and H.A. Rey. Jun Falkenstein (“The Tigger Movie”)
directs from a screenplay by Robert L. Baird and Dan Gerson (“Monsters,
Inc.”). Universal sends it on its way Nov. 4, 2005.
“A Confederacy Of Dunces” is the long-in-development comedy, set in New
Orleans, about a portly intellectual whose nagging mother drives him to petty
theft, madness and the movies. It’s based on the semiautobiographical
Pulitzer prize-winning 1981 novel by John Kennedy Toole. David Gordon Green
(“All the Real Girls”) directs from a screenplay by Steven Soderbergh
(“Solaris”) and Scott Kramer. Will Ferrell stars as Reilly with
Drew Barrymore, Mos Def (“the Italian Job”), Olympia Dukakis (“Better
Living”) and Lily Tomlin (“Orange County”) as Mrs. Reilly.
Miramax has yet to set a release date or prepare an Oscar campaign.
Adam Sandler has seen his career broaden
from playing volatile-yet-sensitive types to a new niche
ones. He’s up next in “Spanglish.” It’s
a romantic comedy set in Los Angeles about a married couple
whose lives are turned upside down by the arrival of a
new, attractive young Latina housekeeper. Written and directed
by James L. Brooks (“As Good As It Gets”),
it stars Sandler (“50 First Dates”) and Téa
Leoni (“People I Know”) as the couple and Paz
Vega (“Sex and Lucia”) as the housekeeper.
Anne Bancroft (“Heartbreakers”), Matt Battaglia
(“Half Past Dead”), Wendy Braun (“Evolution”),
Allen Covert (“50 First Dates”), Cecilia Suárez,
Sarah Steele and Victoria Luna co-star. Sony hopes a Dec.
17 release date translates into big box office.
“The Longest Yard” finds Sandler, fellow SNL alum
Chris Rock and Snoop Dogg in a remake of the 1974 Burt
Reynolds comedy about an imprisoned former pro football
player forced to lead a bunch of fellow convicts in a brutal
game against prison guards – a game they are required
to lose. “50 First Dates”-”Anger Management” helmer
Peter Segal directs from a screenplay by Sheldon Turner.
Paramount sends in the play May 27, 2005.
“Click” is a recently announced romantic comedy also
set to star Sandler. No director has been announced yet
for the script from Steve Koren and Mark O’Keefe
(“Bruce Almighty”) about an overworked architect
who obtains a universal remote that allows him to fast-forward
and rewind to different parts of his life. Sony has yet
to program a release date.
Following “The Longest Yard,” Chris Rock lends
his voice to “Madagascar,” an animated feature
about four zoo animals who, thanks to a shipwreck, end
up in the wilds of the titular African isle. Eric Darnell
(“Antz”) and Conrad Vernon direct. Ben Stiller,
Jason Alexander and Madonna also add their voices. DreamWorks
plans a May 27, 2005 release.
“Sick Day” is a comedy about
a man (Rock) who skips work only to see his plans for the
day go hideously wrong.
Nick Marine’s original screenplay is getting a rewrite
by Jordan Moffet (“Like Mike”). Universal has
yet to schedule a box office appointment.
Mike Myers and
Eddie Murphy return as the titular ogre and his donkey
sidekick in “Shrek
more on this sequel to the 2001 animated blockbuster in
the May preview.
Murphy is in line for another sequel, this
one to his 2003 hit “Daddy Day Care.” Sony’s “Daddy
Day Camp” is being scripted by Joel Cohen & Alec
Sokolow (“Cheaper by the Dozen”), and has yet
to be assigned a director, let alone a release date.
In addition to “Coffee and Cigarettes,” (covered
in some detail here), 2003 Oscar nominee Bill Murray
will lend his voice to the title feline in “Garfield,” a
live-action comedy, based on the comic strip by Jim Davis,
about a lazy, orange tabby whose pampered lifestyle is
seriously disturbed when his owner brings home a new pet – a
goony dog named Odie. Peter Hewitt (“The Borrowers,” “Tom
and Huck”) directs from a screenplay by Joel Cohen & Alec
Sokolow (“Daddy Day Camp”). Breckin Meyer (“Kate & Leopold”)
stars as Jon Arbuckle, Jennifer Love Hewitt (“The
Tuxedo”) as Dr. Liz Wilson and Stephen Tobolowsky
(“Freaky Friday”) as Happy Chapman. Fox lets
it out of the carrier on June 25.
Murray then reteams with his “Rushmore”-”Royal
Tenenbaums” colleagues for “The Life Aquatic.” The
comedy is about a deep-sea oceanographer who takes his
crew on a hunt for a legendary shark. Others returning
from “Rushmore” and/or “Tenenbaums” include
writer-director Wes Anderson and actors Owen Wilson (“The
Wendell Baker Story”), Anjelica Huston (“Daddy
Day Care”) and Wally Wolodarsky (“Rushmore”).
Non-vets of Anderson’s earlier films include screenwriter
Noah Baumbach (“Mr. Jealousy”) as well as Jeff
Goldblum (“Igby Goes Down”), Bud Cort (“Made”)
and Peter Stormare (“Bad Boys II”). Buena Vista
plans to get its feet wet Dec. 17.
“The Squid and the
Whale,” set in Brooklyn, is about
a pair of writers who begin dating much younger people
after their marriage dissolves. “Life Aquatic” writer
Noah Baumbach (whose credits as a writer-director include “Kicking
and Screaming” and “Mr. Jealousy”) writes
and directs. Murray’s co-stars include Laura Linney
(“Mystic River”) and John Turturro (“Anger
Management”). It has yet to secure a domestic distributor.
SNL original cast member (and another
former Oscar nominee, for 1989’s “Driving Miss Daisy”) Dan
Aykroyd is “Skipping Christmas.” Based on the
story by John Grisham, it’s a comedy about a man
so fed up with the holiday he decides to skip it altogether – until
a surprise visit from his daughter prompts him to slap
together a last-minute celebration. Joe Roth (“America’s
Sweethearts”) directs from a screenplay by Chris
Columbus (“Only the Lonely,” “Nine Months”).
Aykroyd’s co-stars include Tim Allen (“The
Santa Clause 2”) and Jamie Lee Curtis (“Freaky
Friday”). Sony serves it with all the trimmings Nov.
Current SNL head writer Tina Fey wrote
and takes a supporting role in the Paramount comedy “Mean Girls,” which
was previewed last month and opens April 30.
Busy Ben Stiller, already mentioned
for his roles opposite fellow SNLers in “Anchorman” and “Madagasgar,” is
currently on-screen in “Along Came Polly,” “Starsky
and Hutch” and “Envy” – and returns
to the big screen June 18 as star of “Dodgeball:
A True Underdog Story.” The comedy is about a small
fitness facility whose survival is tied to a dodgeball
contest with a much larger rival. Commercial director Rawson
Marshall Thurber makes his feature directorial debut from
his own screenplay. Stiller’s co-stars include Vince
Vaughn (“Anchorman”) and Christine Taylor (“Zoolander”).
Fox rolls it out June 18.
Stiller is also set to reprise his “Meet the Parents” role
of Gaylord Focker in “Meet The Fockers.” Other
returnees for this sequel to the 2000 comedy blockbuster
are expected to include director Jay Roach (“Austin
Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me”), screenwriter Jim
Herzfeld (“Meet the Deedles”), and actors Robert
De Niro (“Analyze That,” “Godsend”),
Teri Polo (“Domestic Disturbance,” “Beyond
Borders”) and Blythe Danner (“The Invisible
Circus”). Newcomers to the series are expected to
include screenwriters Chris & Paul Weitz (“About
A Boy”), as well as Dustin Hoffman (“Runaway
Jury”) as father Focker. Barbra Streisand (“The
Mirror Has Two Faces”) was reportedly in talks to
play mother Focker. Universal plans a Dec. 22 release.
Rob Schneider, currently on screen
in “50 First
Dates” and “Played,” next plays a hobo
in “Around The World In 80 Days.” The period
adventure, based on the 1873 novel by Jules Verne (“20,000
Leagues Under the Sea”), is about a sedentary Englishman
who bets he can circle the globe with improbable speed.
Frank Coraci (“The Wedding Singer”) directs
from a screenplay by Tim McCanlies (“The Iron Giant,” “Secondhand
Lions”), Steven Peros (“The Cat’s Meow”),
David N. Titcher (“Morgan Stewart’s Coming
Home”) and Michael Weiss. Schneider’s co-stars
include Steve Coogan (“24 Hour Party People”)
as Phileas Fogg, Jackie Chan (“The Medallion”)
as Passepartout, Jim Broadbent (“Gangs of New York”)
as Lord Kelvin, Kathy Bates (“About Schmidt”)
as Queen Victoria, Arnold Schwarzenegger (“Terminator
3”) as Prince Hapi, John Cleese (“Charlie’s
Angels: Full Throttle”) as Grizzled Sargent, Owen
Wilson (“The Life Aquatic”) and Luke Wilson
(“The Wendell Baker Story”) as Wilbur and Orville
Wright, Mark Addy (“The Order”) as a steamer
captain and Ewen Bremner (“The Rundown”) as
Inspector Fix. Buena Vista releases it around America June
Schneider reprises his biggest success with “Deuce
Bigalow: European Gigolo.” In it, the inadvertent “man-whore” plies
his trade in the more sophisticated setting of Old Europe.
The screenplay is by Schneider (“Deuce Bigalow: “Male
Gigolo,” “The Animal,” “The Hot
Chick”) and David Garrett (“Corky Romano”).
Eddie Griffin (“My Baby’s Daddy”) was
also expected to return as mentor-pimp T.J. Hicks. Buena
Vista has yet to procure a release date.
Janeane Garofalo (“Wonderland”) just might “Stay.” The
drama is about a therapist at an Ivy League school who
attempts to prevent one of his students from committing
suicide. Marc Foster (“Monster’s Ball”)
directs from a screenplay by David Benioff (“25th
Hour,” “Troy”). Garofalo’s co-stars
include Ewan McGregor (“Big Fish,” “Young
Adam”), Naomi Watts (“21 Grams,” Ned
Kelly”), Ryan Gosling (“Murder by Numbers,” “The
United States of Leland”), Bob Hoskins (“Maid
in Manhattan”) and Elizabeth Reaser (“Thirteen
Conversations About One Thing”). Fox has yet to set
a release date.
She then joins fellow former SNLers Martin
Over It”) and Jan Hooks (“Simon Birch”)
in “La La Wood,” in which Short and Hooks reprise
their Comedy Central personas of celebrity gossip maven
Jiminy Glick and wife Dixie. The movie has Jiminy caught
up in a murder mystery at the Toronto Film Festival. Vadim
Jean directs from a screenplay by Short. Co-stars include
John Michael Higgins (“A Mighty Wind”), Elizabeth
Perkins (“Cats and Dogs”) and Linda Cardellini
(“Scooby-Doo 2: “Monsters Unleashed”).
It has yet to line up a domestic distributor.
Finally, Jimmy Fallon rolls up in “Taxi.” The
action comedy is about a former pizza-delivery woman who
drives a souped-up cab, and her friendship with an awkward
but good-hearted cop. It’s based on the 1998 French
film written by Luc Besson (“Kiss of the Dragon,” “The
Transporter”). Tim Story (“Barbershop”)
directs from a screenplay by Ben Garant & Thomas Lennon
(“Starsky & Hutch”) and Jim Kouf (“Rush
Hour,” “Snow Dogs”). Fallon’s co-stars
include Queen Latifah (“Babershop 2: Back in Business”),
Jennifer Esposito (“The Master of Disguise”),
Christian Kane (“Secondhand Lions”), Ann-Margret
(“Any Given Sunday”), Henry Simmons (“Above
the Rim”) and supermodel Gisele Bundchen. Fox takes
fares Oct. 8.