The Same Eight Guys Don’t
Star In Every Movie Comedy; It Just Seems That Way Sometimes.
The $84 million domestic
take of last year’s “Anchorman:
The Legend of Ron Burgundy” isn’t the most
compelling thing about the film. Rather, the way its cast
works – together, more often that not – has
spawned a mini-industry of comedies featuring the same
people over and over again in ever-shifting combinations.
In roles big and small, and in uncredited cameos, the “Anchorman” cast
is powering a not insignificant segment of the movie industry.
Take Ben Stiller, for example. Though
a small presence in “Anchorman,” Stiller appeared in no fewer
than five of the 30 top-grossing films of 2004, and he
worked with one or more of his “Anchorman” compatriots
in each of them.
Discover now what’s ahead for the “Anchorman” mafia.
After what some in the industry (well, us) are calling “The
Summer of Ferrell” – with “Kicking and
Screaming,” “Bewitched” and “Wedding
Crashers” all in cinemas – Ferrell moves next
to “The Producers: The Movie Musical.” The
comedy is about a washed-up producer and his accountant,
who realize it’s possible to make money by overselling
shares in an unsuccessful play; the two set about staging
a sure-fire flop with the worst actor, the worst director
and the most offensive play imaginable – a musical
titled “Springtime for Hitler.” It’s
a musical remake of Mel Brooks’ 1968 film by the
same name, based on the 2001 Tony Award-winning stage musical.
Stage director Susan Stroman, who mounted the play, makes
her feature directorial debut from a screenplay by Brooks
(“Dracula: Dead and Loving It”) and Thomas
Meehan (“Spaceballs”). Those reprising their
roles from the stage production include Nathan Lane (“Win
a Date with Tad Hamilton!”) as producer Max Bialystock,
Matthew Broderick (“The Last Shot”) as accountant
Leo Bloom, Gary Beach (“Man of the Century”)
as flamboyant director Roger De Bris and Roger Bart (“The
Stepford Wives”) as his “common-law personal
assistant” Carmen Ghia. Newcomers include Ferrell
as addled former Nazi playwright Franz Liebkind, Uma Thurman
(“Be Cool”) as Swedish secretary Ulla, Andrea
Martin (“New York Minute”) and Debra Monk (“Palindromes”)
as a pair of elderly investors and Jon Lovitz (“The
Stepford Wives”) as Mr. Marks. Universal turn-turn-kick
turns it out in cinemas Dec. 21.
“Winter Passing” is a change of pace for Ferrell.
The drama is about an actress 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. Ed Harris (“Radio”)
stars as the author, Zooey Deschanel (“The Hitchhiker’s
Guide to the Galaxy”) as the daughter. Ferrell’s
other co-stars include Sam Bottoms (“Seabiscuit”),
Rachel Dratch (“Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star”),
Amy Madigan (“Pollock”), Dallas Roberts (“A
Home at the End of the World”), Anchormafioso David
Koechner (“The Dukes of Hazzard”) and Amelia
Warner (“Quills”). Focus plans to pass it to
exhibitors Dec. 31.
“Curious George” is an animated comedy about the precocious
silent primate who leaves the jungles of Africa for a series
of misadventures with a human companion. 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 Baird (TV’s “Misguided
Angels”), Dan Gerson (“Monsters, Inc”),
Karey Kirkpatrick (“The Hitchhiker’s Guide
to the Galaxy”), Michael McCullers (Austin Powers
in Goldmember,” “Thunderbirds”) and Joe
Stillman (“Shrek 2”). Ferrell lends his voice
to the Man in the Yellow Hat. Universal is curious how
audiences will receive it Feb. 10, 2006.
“Talladega Nights” is a comedy about the high stakes world of stock
car racing, set at a famous racing track in Alabama. The “Anchorman” team
of Ferrell, David Koechner (“Winter Passing”) and writer-director
Adam McKay reunite. Sony takes it for a spin July 14, 2006.
“Stranger Than Fiction” is a
comedy about an IRS auditor whose world is upended when
he begins to hear his life being narrated. Marc Forster
Neverland,” “Stay”) directed from a screenplay by Zach
Helm. Ferrell co-stars with Dustin Hoffman (“Meet the Fockers”),
Emma Thompson (“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”),
Maggie Gyllenhaal (“Happy Endings”), Queen Latifah (“Beauty
Hale (TV’s “Arrested Development”), Linda Hunt (“A
Lot Like Love,” “Yours, Mine and Ours”), Tom Hulce (“Frankenstein”)
and Kristen Chenoweth (“Bewitched”). The film has yet to place
a lien on a distributor.
“The Wendell Baker Story” finds Ferrell in another supporting role.
The comedy is about a reformed ex-confidence man who gets a job at a retirement
center, where the residents help him win back his girlfriend. Actor brothers
Luke Wilson (another Burgundian) and Andrew Wilson (“Fever Pitch”)
make their feature directorial debuts from a screenplay by Luke Wilson and Owen
Wilson (“The Royal Tenenbaums”). With Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson (“The
Wedding Crashers”), Eva Mendes (“Hitch”), Seymour Cassel (“Stuck
On You”), Harry Dean Stanton (“The Big Bounce”), Kris Kristofferson
(“The Jacket”), Heather Kafka (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”),
and Eddie Griffin (“Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo”). Franchise
Pictures usually places its films with Warner Bros., but has yet to secure
a release date.
Ferrell has also signed up to star in “Joan of Bark: The Dog that Saved
France” a contemporary satire written and directed by David Mamet (“State
and Main,” “Heist,” Spartan”). No other plot or casting
information has been revealed. Sony has yet to set a release date.
The brunette member of the filmmaking Wilson brothers (who
could probably form a rival mafia of their own), Luke
also goes the untitled route in “Untitled Mike
Judge.” Once known as “3001” and set
for an August release, Fox has untitled it and held it
for later in the year. It’s a comedy about an Army
private frozen by the government for 1,000 years and
what happens when, post-thaw, he realizes humanity has
grown so vacuous he is now one of the smartest men on
the planet. Mike Judge (“Office Space”) directed
from a screenplay by Judge and Etan Cohen (TV’s “King
of the Hill”). Wilson’s co-stars include
Stephen Root (“Dodgeball”), Maya Rudolph
(“50 First Dates”), David Herman (“Dude,
Where’s My Car”), Justin Long (“Dodgeball,” “Herbie:
Fully Loaded”), Terry Crews (“The Longest
Yard”), Heather Kafka (“The Wendell Baker
Story”), Dax Shepard (“Without a Paddle”),
Chris Warner (“Sin City”), Michael McCafferty
(“Bring It On”), Brendan Hill (“Max
Keeble’s Big Move”) and Sara Rue (“The
“The Family Stone” is a romantic comedy about a fractious
family that unites when their son brings his uptight girlfriend
home for Christmas. It was written and directed by Thomas
Bezucha. Wilson’s co-stars include Claire Danes (“Stage
Beauty”), Diane Keaton (“Something’s
Gotta Give”), Rachel McAdams (“Wedding Crashers”),
Dermot Mulroney (“The Wedding Date”), Craig
T. Nelson (“The Incredibles”), Sarah Jessica
Parker (“State and Main”), Tyrone Giordano
(“A Lot Like Love”), Jamie Kaler (“Spanglish”),
Paul Schneider and Brian J. White (“Mr. 3000”).
Fox plans to set the table Nov. 4.
“Mini’s First Time” is a black comedy about
a young woman who finds employment with an escort service
where, it turns out, her stepfather is a client. All part
of a plan, which quickly goes astray, to have her hated
mother declared insane. It was written and directed by
Nick Guthe. Wilson plays a detective opposite Nikki Reed
(“Lords of Dogtown”), Alec Baldwin (“The
Aviator”), Carrie-Anne Moss (“The Chumscrubber”),
Jeff Goldblum (“The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”),
Svetlana Metkina and Rick Fox (“Holes”). It’s
still looking for a distributor to accompany it.
The more famous of the Wilson brothers and honorary Anchormafioso
(he wasn’t in “Anchorman,” but seems
to work almost exclusively with those who did) had a
quiet summer. Aside from “Wedding Crashers” and
the aforementioned “Wendell Baker Story,” it’s
all about the uncertain future for Wilson: all of his
upcoming projects lack either a distributor or a release
Unless you count “Cars.” Pixar’s last
contractually-obligated feature for Disney features a collection
of classic autos bound for adventure on Route 66. John
Lasseter (the “Toy Story” series) directs.
Besides Wilson, those giving voices to the machines include
Bonnie Hunt, race-car driver/actor Paul Newman, retired
stock car champion Richard Petty, Pixar good-luck charm
John Ratzenberger, and Larry The Cable Guy. Buena Vista
revs it up June 9, 2006.
“Date School” is a romantic comedy, set in New York,
about a consulting service that puts clients on simulated
dates and critiques their performances. It’s based
on a Mademoiselle article by Daryl Chen. Miguel Arteta
(“The Good Girl”) was reportedly set to direct
from a screenplay by the “Never Been Kissed” team
of Abby Kohn and Mark Silverstein. Wilson was set to star.
DreamWorks, perversely, has yet to set a date.
“Stalker – A Love Story” is a romantic comedy
about a man who, upon realizing he has let go of the perfect
woman, sets about trying to win her back in creepily inappropriate
ways. The screenplay is by Michael Carnes and Josh Gilbert.
“Untitled Harold Ramis/Owen Wilson
Project” is a comedy
written and directed by Harold Ramis (“Groundhog
Day,” “Analyze This,” “Analyze
That”) and starring, shockingly Owen Wilson. Sony
has yet to release plot details or a release date.
Having been a “Wedding Crasher” and co-starred
in “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” Vaughn is ready for “The
Break Up.” The romantic comedy focuses, appropriately
enough, on the aftermath of a break up. Peyton Reed (“Down
with Love”) directs from a screenplay by Jeremy Garelick
and Jay Lavender. Vaughn co-stars with Jennifer Aniston
(“Along Came Polly”). Universal plans to send
this Valentine Feb. 16.
Vaughn heads next to the “Untitled David O. Russell
Project.” A burgeoning big star, Vaughn hasn’t
quite got the pull to get a slash and his name following
the director’s for this one, a comedy about a radio
call-in show host who finds himself adopting the characteristics
of his troubled neurotic listeners. Russell (“I Heart
Huckabees”) directs from a screenplay by Russell,
David Cohen (“Balto”) and Tony Lord. Universal
unwraps it December 25, 2006.
In addition to a brief appearance in “Bewitched,” Carell
found his first starring role with “The 40-Year-Old
Carell provides the voice of Sammy the Squirrel in “Over
the Hedge,” an animated comedy, set in the suburbs,
about a raccoon and a turtle who go to war with the yuppie
family of humans that moves into the house on the property
on which the animals dwell. It’s based on the comic
strip created by Michael Fry and T. Lewis, who also drafted
a screenplay. Tim Johnson (“Antz,” “Sinbad:
Legend of the Seven Seas”) and longtime screenwriter
Karey Kirkpatrick (“Curious George”) direct
from a screenplay by Len Blum (“Private Parts”).
Also lending voices to the suburban menagerie are Bruce
Willis as RJ the Raccoon, Garry Shandling as Verne the
Turtle, Catherine O’Hara as Penny the Porcupine,
Wanda Sykes as Stella the Skunk, Eugene Levy as Lew the
Porcupine, William Shatner as Ozzie the Possum, Avril Lavigne
as Ozzie’s daughter Heather, Allison Janney as Gladys
and Nick Nolte as Vincent, DreamWorks plans to subdivide
and conquer May 19, 2006.
In preproduction at press time, “Little Miss Sunshine” is
a comedy about a family rushing off on a cross-country
trip in a VW bus in order to enter their young daughter
in the finals of a beauty pageant. Longtime music video
directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (R.E.M’s “Star
69,” Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation”)
were set to direct from a screenplay by Michael Arndt.
Carell was set to co-star with Toni Collette (“the
Last Shot”), Greg Kinnear (“The Bad News Bears”)
and Abigail Breslin (“The Princess Diaries 2: Royal
Carell has also been selected to fill the
shoe-phones of Don Adams in the announced remake of “Get Smart.” It’s
based on the 1965-1970 TV comedy, created by Buck Henry
and Mel Brooks, about a bumbling secret agent who does
battle with the nefarious minions of a rival spy agency.
The screenplay is by Steve Koren (“Bruce Almighty”)
and Jon Zack (“The Perfect Score”). Warner
Bros. plans a September 2006 release.
Surprisingly, as he was in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” just
this summer, Paul Rudd is having difficulty putting “The
OH in Ohio.” It’s a comedy about a young Midwest
beauty on a determined search to experience an orgasm – the
one element missing from the otherwise perfect life she
has built with her childhood sweetheart. Billy Kent directed
from a screenplay by Adam Wierzbianski. Rudd’s co-stars
include Parker Posey (“Blade: Trinity”), Danny
DeVito (“Be Cool”), Mischa Barton (“Julie
Johnson”), Miranda Bailey (TV’s “The
60s”) and Liza Minnelli (“Arthur 2: On the
Rocks”). As well as needing a distributor, the film
is, appropriately, still seeking release.
Though only appearing in “Anchorman” in the
generic-sounding role of Angry Biker, Jack Black will be
taking on roles (and co-stars) of a size more suitable
to the star of “School of Rock”.
come any bigger than the eponymous “King
Kong.” It’s about a building-size simian from
the jungles of darkest Africa who is captured and displayed
in New York – all for the love of a beautiful blonde.
The period remake reunites the “Lord of the Rings” team
of writer-director Peter Jackson and screenwriters Fran
Walsh and Philippa Boyens. Black, who plays a filmmaker
on the trail of the notoriously reclusive Kong, co-stars
with Naomi Watts (“The Ring 2”), Adrien Brody
(“The Jacket”), Colin Hanks (“Orange
County”), Kyle Chandler (“Mulholland Falls”),
Andy Serkis (“13 Going On 30”), Jamie Bell
(“The Chumscrubber”) and Thomas Kretschmann
(“Head in the Clouds”). Universal unleashes
its monkey Dec. 14.
Ego doesn’t come any bigger than “Tenacious
D: The Pick Of Destiny,” a comedy about the formation
of the real-life self-proclaimed “greatest band on
Earth.” Band members Black and Kyle Gass (“Elf”)
pick up their instruments for the group’s feature
film debut. Liam Lynch directs from a screenplay by Lynch,
Black and Gass. Fellow Anchormaniacs David Koechner (“Talladega
Nights”) and Ben Stiller, Ned Bellamy (“Lords
of Dogtown”) and Michael Rivkin (“Men in Black
II”) co-star. New Line plans a 2006 bow.
“Untitled Wrestling Movie” finds Black donning a collar
and a mask in this based-on-fact story of a Mexican priest
who secretly moonlights as a wrestler to save an orphanage.
Jared Hess (“Napoleon Dynamite”) was set to
direct from a screenplay by Hess and Mike White (“The
Good Girl,” “School of Rock”). Production
on the 2006 Paramount release was set to start this fall.
We were going to call this Next! “The Stiller Mafia,” until
we realized that after “Madagascar,” Stiller
doesn’t actually have any other movies beyond the
Except, that is, an uncredited cameo in “Sledge:
The Untold Story,” a comic action musical about a
hapless wannabe Broadway musical star who seeks his destiny – in
Hollywood, as an action star. Veteran second unit director
and stunt coordinator Brad Martin directed from a screenplay
by longtime stuntman David Leitch, who also stars as the
title character. Leitch’s co-stars include Carrie-Anne
Moss, Holmes Osborne (“Anchorman,” “A
Lot Like Love”), Chris Palermo (“The Perfect
Storm”), Mitchell Gaylord (“American Anthem”),
Hugo Weaving (“The Lord of the Rings: The Return
of the King”), Michael T. Weiss (“Freeway”)
and Eric Roberts (“The Long Ride Home”). It
lacks a distributor.
“Tropic Thunder” is a comedy about a group of war-movie
actors who find their intensive “boot camp” training
handy when a real war breaks out. No director has been
set for the screenplay by Etan Cohen (“Untitled Mike
Judge”) and actor Justin Theroux (“Zoolander,” “The
Baxter”). Theroux and Stiller were reportedly set
to star. It’s in development at DreamWorks.