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Fox Buys ‘Rentaghost’ And Re-Teams Ben Stiller With ‘Night At The Museum’ Scribes Lennon And Garant

By | Wednesday October 12, 2011 @ 10:00am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox has acquired rights to the supernatural British comedy show Rentaghost, and has re-teamed Ben Stiller with his Night At The Museum writers Tom Lennon and Robert Ben Garant. The film will be produced by Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun through BermanBraun and Kevin McCormick through Langley Park. Patrick Pidgeon is producer and Andrew Mittman is co-producer. The comedy will be based on the British TV kid series that ran on BBC1 from 1976-84. The project  was once in negotiations to land at Warner Bros with Berman and McCormick as a vehicle for Russell Brand, but he withdrew after Arthur didn’t open strongly, and the studio never closed the deal. If Stiller, Lennon and Garant can replicate anything close to Night at the Museum, this could be another strong family franchise for Fox, where Stiller’s Red Hour is based.

The original show involved a supernatural firm called Rentaghost, which rented out spirits for a variety of tasks. In the take that Lennon and Garant will write, the idea is for Stiller to play an American turnaround consultant who is sent to the UK to reinvigorate a failing company. Stiller’s got a lot going on. The Brett Ratner-directed Tower Heist will be released next month, he’s shooting the Akiva Schaffer-directed Fox comedy Neighborhood Watch with Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill, and continues to work with Fox on The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, which he hopes to direct … Read More »

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Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Digital Pooling Talent For ‘Fake Trailers’ Parody

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Digital has started work on The Fake Trailer Project, a digital project inspired by Stiller’s own fake trailers that were shown in short doses in the comedy Tropic Thunder. The new project, essentially a series of at least 12 short trailer parodies, will be distributed online via a partner to be named shortly. The plan is to bring together top actors and filmmakers across all genres to take part. I’m now told that they’ll come one per week, starting in the late fall or winter.

Stiller will produce with Stuart Cornfeld and Mike Rosenstein through Red Hour Digital, with longtime Red Hour collaborator Robert Cohen exec producing and directing some of the shorts. Among the actors and directors who’ll contribute content are Stiller’s Tropic Thunder co-writer Justin Theroux, Night at the Museum scribes Tom Lennon & Ben Garant, and Clueless helmer Amy Heckerling.

Beyond Tropic Thunder, the fake trailer has provided comic currency in films like Grindhouse (where the Danny Trejo phony trailer Machete was turned into a feature). My personal favorite trailer parody was one Jerry Seinfeld came up with years ago to promote his documentary Comedian, which featured actual trailer voice-over announcer Hal Douglas.

Here was one of the fake trailers used in Tropic Thunder, featuring Robert Downey Jr as Kirk Lazarus:

Here’s the one from Comedian:

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Tom Lennon And Robert Ben Garant Board ‘Wee McGinty’

By | Wednesday January 5, 2011 @ 3:57pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: When you’ve covered film projects as long as I have, you can only wish to come across project log lines you haven’t heard a million times before. My wish has been granted by the Summit Entertainment comedy The Wee McGinty, which has just been creatively taken over by  Night at the Museum scribes Tom Lennon and Robert Ben Garant. Said an insider: “Think Bourne Identity, but plug in a leprechaun instead of Matt Damon.”

Lennon and Garant have just closed deals to rewrite the script for Garant to direct, with Lennon playing a major supporting role. The premise: the height-challenged wish-granter loses his memory, and settles in with a group of Chicago firefighters. That bliss is threatened when he is discovered by his paramilitary leprechaun brethren. Among the pyrotechnics: a wish-off that involves a fire-breathing Doberman. Mark Gibson and Phil Halprin were the original writers.

The duo, repped by CAA and Principato Young, just finished writing, exec producing, starring in and directing a pilot for FX called Alabama, their first series since Reno 911!

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Tom Lennon, Rob Riggle At Center of ‘The Boondoggle’ Spec Laffer

By | Friday December 3, 2010 @ 4:16pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Beyond the Jay Roach-directed political comedy pitch that has Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis attached, studios have a hot spec script to think about this weekend. CAA is out with The Boondoggle, a comedy that has been rewritten by Tom Lennon and Rob Riggle, with the duo starring as two guys who attend a boondoggle business trip, with everything imaginable going awry. Christopher Brian Halvorson wrote the first draft. Joe Roth is producing and Halverson’s manager, Barrett Stuart, will also be a producer.

Lennon usually writes with Ben Garant, with that duo responsible for the Night at the Museum and Reno 911! As an actor, he just completed roles in the upcoming comedies Bad Teacher, A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas and Cedar Rapids. Lennon and Garant are separately writing together the series creation Alabama for FX. Riggle, who started as a Daily Show correspondent, has risen through the ranks in comedies like The Other Guys, The Hangover, and Step Brothers. Deadline will keep you posted on the deal.

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