Anna Faris might play ditzy onscreen, but don’t discount her industry acumen when it comes to comedy’s playability with an audience. As one of the leading comedic females, she’s got the pratfalls and cheeky camera reactions down pat, but she also knows what types of raunchy comedy features click and don’t click, having relished the highs with the near billion-dollar Scary Movie franchise, and weathered the market’s ennui with What’s Your Number? There’s nothing wrong with raunchy female roles per se according to Faris; there just needs to be an evolution with them. It’s partly why she took a pause from her string of marquee roles to play Christy: A complicated, ex-alcoholic mother who is trying to piece her life back together in Chuck Lorre’s CBS-Warner Bros. TV comedy Mom. While Faris still gets to show her flair for physical comedy, her Christy has tackled such heavy story arcs like teenage pregnancy, long-lost fathers and cancer. During her childhood in Seattle, Faris says comedy wasn’t her strong suit: “I was the short one with headgear who just had the desire to be heard.” But she quickly earned her funny stripes after working with such icons as David Zucker and Keenen Ivory Wayans, the latter who advised, “There’s no vanity in comedy”. “Embrace the idea that the audience will think you’re a certain type of person,” says Faris. Click through for our interview with her:
EXCLUSIVE: In a near seven-figure deal, Fox has acquired the spec script Vacation Friends by the sibling scribe team Tom Mullen & Tim Mullen. The plan is for Steve Pink to direct, and for Chris Pratt and Anna Faris to star. Todd Garner is producing through his Broken Road Pictures banner. The hope is to shoot later this year.
Pratt and Faris, who are married off screen, will play a crazy wild couple that bonds with a straight laced couple on vacation in Mexico. They have a great time, and then want to rekindle the fun. Once the other couple gets back to their normal life, it’s not nearly the same kind of fun and their vacation friends won’t go away. It’s like What About Bob? with a couple. It’s another in a recent series of deals with studios that were willing to pay for a fully fleshed out package assembled by a hands on producer. Garner developed this with Pink (who will do a rewrite), and then found that Pratt and Faris liked it as a vehicle they could do together. Both of them have momentum. Pratt, part of the ensemble cast of Parks And Recreation, has muscled up and plays the lead role in Marvel’s next franchise launch, Guardians Of The Galaxy. He’s also booked the lead in Jurassic World. Faris, meanwhile, is starring with Allison …
BREAKING: After making her mark on features from Juno to Inception, Ellen Page will make her directing debut on Miss Stevens, and she’s got Anna Faris attached to play the title role. The film was written by Julia Hart (The Keeping Room) and will be produced by Gilbert Films (The Kids Are All Right) and Anonymous Content (Winter’s Bone). Gary Gilbert and Jordan Horowitz of Gilbert Films will produce with Doug Wald of Anonymous Content, and Nicole Romano and Trevor Adley of Anonymous Content will serve as Executive Producers.
Faris will play a teacher whose life is in disarray when she chaperones a group of high schoolers on a weekend trip to a state drama competition. There, through the admiration and humanity of her students, she rediscovers her own self-worth.
Page next stars in The East for Fox Searchlight, a film that premiered at Sundance. She begins production on X-Men: Days Of Future Past this spring and then films Freeheld, a Ron Nyswaner-scripted adaptation of the Oscar-winning documentary short. She’s also part of the ensemble of Lynn Shelton’s Touchy Feely, which also premiered at Sundance.
Anna Faris has been tapped as the lead in Mom, CBS‘ comedy pilot from Chuck Lorre, the man behind the network’s comedy series Two And A Half Men, The Big Bang Theory and Mike & Molly. Mom, which Lorre co-wrote on spec with two members of his Two And A Half Men team — executive producer Eddie Gorodetsky and story editor Gemma Baker — centers on a newly sober single mom (Faris) who tries to pull her life together in Napa Valley. The project, produced by Warner Bros TV and studio-based Chuck Lorre Prods, was taken to CBS last month, landing a pilot order.
This marks a rare foray into TV for feature actress Faris, The House Bunny star who has been on the wish list of comedy pilot casting directors for several years. Her only previous series credits include a high-profile guest arc on the final season of NBC’s Friends as the birth mother of the twin babies adopted by Monica and Chandler, and another one on HBO’s Entourage where she played herself. Faris, repped by WME, Anonymous Content and attorney Robert Offer, also played the lead in Jhoni Marchinko’s 2005 NBC comedy pilot Blue Skies and has twice hosted NBC’s Saturday Night Live. On the feature side, her credits include the Scary Movie franchise, Lost In Translation and most recently, The Dictator and What’s Your Number?
EXCLUSIVE: Anna Faris and Jackie Earle Haley have signed with WME, following their agent Warren Zavala, who left CAA last Sunday. That brings the majority of Zavala’s client list over with him. Faris, who just starred with Sacha Baron Cohen in The Dictator, and Haley, who just starred in Dark Shadows, join Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Paul Dano, Johnny Galecki, Amber Heard, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lizzy Caplan, Adam Scott, Shiloh Fernandez, Kelli Garner and David Giuntoli, who also made the move.
Simon Baker, Rafe Spall and Stephen Merchant also star in the comedy from Studiocanal and Working Title. The companies today announced a February 14, 2013 UK release date for the Dan Mazer-scripted film about a young couple in their first year of marriage. Principal photography starts at the end of April in London. Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Kris Thykier are producers with Debra Hayward and Liza Chasin exec producing. This is Mazer’s feature directing debut; he’s best known for collaborating with Sacha Baron Cohen as a writer/producer dating back to the days of Da Ali G Show and through to the upcoming The Dictator (in which Faris also stars). In a statement, Mazer said: “I am utterly thrilled to have the opportunity to make my directorial debut supported by such outstanding producers and a brilliant cast. I consider myself blessed to unequivocally be the weakest link in the whole equation. I am foolish enough to make a film where I am unable as a director
EXCLUSIVE: A major shake up is taking place at Arnon Milchan’s New Regency. Co-chairmen Bob Harper and Hutch Parker will not renew their contracts when they expire in December. I’ve confirmed with Harper that he and Parker are negotiating their exits. There had recently been a ripple of rumors about this, and there will be the inevitable speculation over whether the duo are jumping before being pushed. Harper didn’t get into that, but said that he was confirming because he and Parker were aware of the rumors and were most concerned with reassuring filmmakers with Regency projects that the duo would continue to be closely involved and see those films through to release. Harper also said the decision came after months of conversations with Milchan over whether or not to renew. Recently, they came to the conclusion that this was the best course. Milchan could conceivably name a replacement quickly, but Harper told me that he and Parker will continue to see through the completed films as well as some of the projects that are gearing up for production starts, regardless of how quickly the succession takes place.
Harper had been in the job for four years (he moved from the post of vice chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment and has worked for Fox since 1986), and Parker had been in the post for more than three years (he moved over from the post of 20th Century Fox vice chairman, and had been with the studio 13 years when he took the job). They have been involved in every facet of New Regency films, including production, marketing, distribution and administering the library. Harper said it is unclear what will happen next year, and that he and Harper haven’t solidified their plans. I wouldn’t be surprised if they remain on the Fox lot as producers or in some other capacity.
EXCLUSIVE: After splitting up with Contrafilm partner Tripp Vinson in June following a decade-long partnership, Beau Flynn has formed a new company, Flynn Picture Co. He hasn’t strayed far from home. Flynn has made a two-year, non-exclusive, first-look producing deal with Toby Emmerich and New Line Cinema, which was home to Contrafilm for over seven years. Flynn is in the process of staffing up and has taken new office space in Hollywood. Among the pictures he’s producing: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island with Dwayne Johnson, Josh Hutcherson and Michael Caine for New Line and Warner Bros; Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters with Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton for Paramount; and the Anna Faris-Chris Evans-starrer What’s Your Number, the Fox/New Regency comedy that will be released Sept. 30. He’s also got the long-gestating Chris Hemsworth-starrer Red Dawn, which was made by MGM but which is closing on a new distribution deal.
UPDATE: Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson have formally announced their split and issued this statement: “We have nothing but love and respect for each other, and our decision to pursue our own separate paths after 10 amazing years together is not an easy one,” Flynn and Vinson said. “But we have reached the stage where it is time to embrace new challenges and make films on our own. This isn’t goodbye since we will be working together on many projects that will be reaching the marketplace soon. And while we can look back at a lot of success we’ve had together, we are also excited to be looking ahead to the next chapter.”
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE: Contrafilm partners Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson are splitting after a decade together. The move comes as their first-look deal at New Line is expiring. Contrafilm will be frozen as a holding company for the projects they developed together that they will continue to move forward. They tell me the split is amicable, but after two years of whirlwind projects, they took stock and decided it was a good time go solo. Each will form his own new company over the summer and both will concentrate on making mainstream commercial fare.
The move comes after Contrafilm wrapped four films: the MGM remake of Red Dawn with Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck and Josh Hutcherson; the Anna Faris and Chris Evans comedy What’s Your Number? at New …
Paramount Pictures has released an early image of Sacha Baron Cohen as The Dictator, the comedy in which he plays the dual roles of a ruthless dictator who heads to the U.S. for a meeting at the United Nations and finds that his number two has replaced him with an unsuspecting sheepherder lookalike. As the dictator wanders the city, he meets the owner of an organic food store (Anna Faris) who gives him a different perspective on the idea of oppression. Baron Cohen’s Borat and Bruno director Larry Charles is helming, and Paramount has set a May 11, 2012 worldwide release date. Scripted by former Seinfeld scribes Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer and David Mandel, The Dictator is being produced by Scott Rudin, Baron Cohen and the scribes.
I saw a report that claimed Baron Cohen was playing Saddam Hussein, a bit of confusion because the filmmakers have said the film was inspired by Zabibh and The King, which was written by the late Iraqi strongman. But that’s a misnomer and I think Baron Cohen’s hairstyle is more Seinfeld’s Kramer than Hussein.
EXCLUSIVE: Anna Faris has been offered and is in negotiations for the female lead in The Dictator, the Paramount Pictures comedy that has Sacha Baron Cohen starring in dual roles. Baron Cohen’s Borat and Bruno director Larry Charles is helming, and Paramount has set a May 11, 2012 worldwide release date. Scripted by former Seinfeld scribes Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer and David Mandel, The Dictator is being produced by Scott Rudin, Baron Cohen and the scribes.
Baron Cohen plays a ruthless dictator who heads to the U.S. for a meeting at the United Nations and finds that his number two has replaced him with an unsuspecting sheepherder lookalike. As the dictator wanders the city, he meets the owner of an organic food store. That’s the role Faris is negotiating. She turns around his dictatorial thinking, and there’s a little romance in it as well. Faris just sold a stalker pitch starring vehicle to Paramount, and she just wrapped the New Regency comedy What’s Your Number. She’s repped by Gersh and Anonymous Content’s Doug Wald. As for an official logline, Paramount released this one recently: “The film tells the heroic story of a dictator who risked his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed. It is inspired by the best selling novel, Zabibah and The King, by Saddam Hussein.”
The Dictator was one of the more electric material sales of 2011. Four studios chased …
James Franco isn’t the only awards show host this weekend who has bagged a big film role. Joel McHale, who tomorrow hosts the 2011 Film Independent Spirit Awards, is in final negotiations to join Mark Walhberg, Mila Kunis and Seth Macfarlane in Ted, the live action comedy that MacFarlane is directing for Universal Pictures and Media Rights Capital. McHale will play Rex, the sleazy boss who is perpetually putting the moves on his employee (Kunis). She wants to marry her boyfriend (Wahlberg), but won’t until he redefines his relationship with his teddy bear, the one that came alive during a childhood wish and has become a slovenly womanizing slacker. McHale, star of NBC’s comedy Community, also continues to host E!’s The Soup. Additionally, McHale has three films coming out in 2011: The Big Year opposite Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson; What’s Your Number? with Anna Faris; and Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids reboot opposite Jessica Alba. He is repped by WME and Sonesta Entertainment.
Relativity Media has released a trailer for Take Me Home Tonight, a coming of age comedy shot in 2007 by Universal Pictures under the title Kids in America. It languished until it was acquired by Relativity and set for March 4 release. Written by That ’70s Show team of Jackie and Jeff Filgo, the Michael Dowse-directed film stars Topher Grace (also a producer), Anna Faris and Dan Fogler.
EXCLUSIVE: Here’s an early peek at a director’s test done by Dear John and We Are Marshall scribe Jamie Linden for Ten Year, an ensemble feature film he has written about a 10-year high school reunion. The short features such familiar faces as Channing Tatum, Kate Mara, The Hurt Locker‘s Brian Geraghty, and Haylie Duff. Other twentysomething actors who are circling roles in the four other story lines for the feature include Anna Faris, Chris Pratt and Justin Long. The picture is being put together by Twilight Saga producers Temple Hill, and they are currently shopping the director’s test to get financing for Linden to make his directing debut. Temple Hill worked with both Linden and Tatum in Dear John, and Tatum and his 33 And Out partner Reid Carolin have been very involved in the Ten Year effort. I’m told that several financiers and distributors are angling, but that if the right deal doesn’t materialize, Temple Hill may cash flow the picture as it did for the Dan Rush-directed Everything Must Go, the $5 million Will Ferrell-starrer which got a distribution deal with Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions after its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.