Will Ferrell Maybe Playing Russ Meyer in 'Russ & Roger Go Beyond'
by Ethan Anderton
August 1, 2014
Last fall, we got word that Sobini Films, Permut Presentations and Chautauqua Entertainment had acquired Russ & Roger Go Beyond, a screenplay from Christopher Cluess (a writer on "Saturday Night Live" and "The Simpsons") which follows the friendship between filmmaker Russ Meyer and Roger Ebert while working on the film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls for Fox in the late 1960s. Now the indie production is getting some steam as Deadline reports a variety of talent seems to be interested in bringing it to life, including funnyman Will Ferrell circling the role of soft core pulp fiction producer Russ Meyer. Read on!
For those who maybe aren't familiar with the project, here's the official synopsis:
At the end of the 60’s when films like EASY RIDER and BONNIE & CLYDE were reaching new audiences, Meyer, the outlaw director of soft-core pulp films like FASTER PUSSYCAT, KILL, KILL, KILL was given the opportunity to fulfill his lifelong dream of directing a studio film by Richard Zanuck, then head of 20th Century Fox. The studio was struggling with a string of big budget failures and Zanuck thought Meyer was the solution. He offered him BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS and Meyer agreed on the condition that Ebert, then the third string film critic for the Chicago Sun Times (who had written one of the few positive reviews of his work) would write the script. BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS became a struggle between the outsider filmmakers and the establishment studio's board of directors, particularly over the film's rating. Meyer, Ebert and Zanuck were ultimately vindicated when BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS was released in 1970 to huge box office success.
After reading the headline about Ferrell potentially taking the role of Meyer, immediately Jonah Hill popped into my head to play Roger Ebert. That sounds like perfect casting. After all, their work on the film resulted in a life-long friendship that lasted until 2004 when Meyer passed away, and the kind of comedy camaraderie that would exist between Ferrell and Hill would be palpable enough to make this work. Funnily enough, it turns out that Hill is one of the names in consideration to play Ebert along with fellow comedy star Seth Rogen (which doesn't seem like a very good choice) and other unnamed actors.
In addition, the report says that Edgar Wright is "intrigued" by the project, which hints that he might be trying to direct the film. Though the filmmaker is working on getting his original Baby Driver off the ground and also just became involved with an adaptation of Grasshopper Jungle. But apparently the film is coming together quickly with a hope of shooting early next year, so Wright may be able to pump this project out before the other ones get off the ground. As of now, Ferrell seems the most solid to get involved, but we'll be sure to see how the rest of the prospects pan out for this promising showbiz tale. Cool?
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