Judd Apatow has made no secret of it for some time: he and his family love Zac Efron. It’s a move that semi-legitimized the young actor who seemingly has been trying to bust out of the teen hearthrob ghetto with only mixed results thus far (though “The Paperboy” is right around the corner and a few passion projects are simmering). Efron worked with Apatow’s wife Leslie Mann on “17 Again,” and apparently the whole gang hang out from time to time. So perhaps it was no major shock when Apatow troupe member and friend Seth Rogen was announced as Efron’s co-star in an R-Rated comedy for Universal last year. Definitely an edgier move than Efron fans are used to at this point.
Once said to be in the vein of Todd Phillips‘ “Old School,” details have arrived, including a familiar face to sit behind the director’s chair. THR reports Nicholas Stoller — the filmmaker behind the Apatow-produced projects “The Five Year Engagement,” “Get Him To The Greek” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” — is now in talks to helm the comedy. Now titled, “Townies,” Rogen will play a family man who gets has to face off with a local alpha-male (Efron) and his fraternity that live nearby and wreck havoc on his family’s life.
While not an Apatow production, there’s a lot of easy-to-spot six-degrees of separation going on from that ever-growing cottage industry of likeminded creative friends. Evan Goldberg, the co-writer of “Superbad” is producing and the script comes from Andrew Cohen and Brendan O’Brien — two of Apatow’s proteges. It’s good to see that Universal is still a believer in Stoller after the tepid box-office response of “The Five Year Engagement.” The film might have been a financial loser, but budgeted at a very modest $30 million, it was at least fiscally responsible and enjoyable to boot.