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Rashida Jones-Penned Script ‘Celeste & Jesse’ Resurrected, Andy Samberg To Co-Star

Rashida Jones-Penned Script 'Celeste & Jesse' Resurrected, Andy Samberg To Co-Star

‘The Vicious Kind’ Director Lee Toland Krieger At The Helm

Presumably, Rashida Jones has some kind of flaw. You can’t be bitten by Michael Jackson‘s pet monkey Bubbles as a child (as she was) and come out completely unscathed. But she certainly doesn’t seem to demonstrate any: the Harvard-educated daughter of legendary music producer Quincy Jones has made it entirely on her own steam, thanks to being traffic-stoppingly beautiful and immensely talented, both comedically (recent episodes of the spectacularly good “Parks and Recreation,” on which she’s a regular, have seen her stretch her comic wings) and dramatically (see “Monogamy,” where she’s infinitely better than the film, or “The Social Network“). Sidenote, to Zack Snyder: she’s also the best possible choice to play Lois Lane, and you should hire her right now.

Jones has made the move into writing in recent years; she was a contributing editor at Teen Vogue, and co-created the comic book “Frenemy of the State” for Oni Press in 2009, selling the movie rights to Universal before the first issue had even been published. She also co-wrote a romantic comedy, originally titled “Celeste and Jesse Forever,” with actor Will McCormack, about a divorced couple’s bid to stay friends after they split, which made the Black List back in 2008. The film’s come close to being made twice now — once at Fox Atomic, until the studio closed, and last year at Overture, with “The King of Kong” helmer Seth Gordon on board to direct. Again, however, the studio shut down as the film was gearing up for production, and it looked like the project might be lost in development hell. But word’s come in overnight, via 24 Frames, that the project’s found a new lease on life, and not only does it have a new director, but there’s also a big comedy name who’ll co-star alongside Jones.

The film’s now got a shortened title, “Celeste & Jesse,” and is set up at an unnamed studio, with Lee Toland Krieger, the young director of the excellent festival hit “The Vicious Kind” (which, if you’ve never seen, has one of the great unsung performances of the last few years, from Adam Scott). Krieger had been gearing up to direct the excellent script “The Spectacular Now” from “(500) Days of Summer” writers Michael Weber and Scott Neustadter, but that seems to have stalled for the moment, as he’s moved over to “Celeste & Jesse.”

Furthermore, “Saturday Night Live” star Andy Samberg has come on board the project, to play Jesse to Jones’ Celeste. Samberg’s big-screen career has been a bit stop-start, after vehicle “Hot Rod” flopped (although it’s deservedly become a cult classic since release), but he’s shone in small roles in the likes of “I Love You, Man,” and he’s about due for another lead.

Based on the (very good) script draft we’ve read, it’ll allow him to display more range than before — there’s as much drama as comedy in the script. As Jones told 24 Frames: “Our movie is about two people who love each other a ton but they don’t know what to do with that love, and how do you let that person go. It’s very different from: ‘I like having sex with this person because I’m so modern but then, ooh, maybe I like them.’ I’m less interested in that story. It’s the version of ‘When Harry Met Sally‘ 20 years later, or ‘Blue Valentine.’ It’s really about how you break up with someone.'”

Jones also suggests that it should follow in the footsteps of the upcoming “Bridesmaids” and “Desperadoes” as female-led equivalents to the male-heavy recent comedy flicks: “It’s hard to find female leads that are flawed and interesting and dynamic. We wanted to write something that was in the vein of Judd Apatow — you talk like you actually talk with your friends — but with ladies. I want to do that and not just be someone’s girlfriend or wife. I want to be the one to go on the journey.”

It’s an admirable aim, and with really a solid script to work from, and the hugely talented Krieger at the helm, this is certainly one of the more promising relationship comedies on the horizon. The film will be going before cameras very soon as well — Samberg intends to squeeze it in between the end of the current season of “Saturday Night Live” and his co-starring role opposite Adam Sandler in “I Hate You, Dad,” which will film later in the summer. We imagine more concrete word will come in on the film soon, but we should see it in theaters some time in 2012.

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