When you talk dream projects that you wish could become resurrected — something we do for shits and giggles from time to time — very high on our list is John Kennedy Toole‘s posthumously-published, picaresque novel “A Confederacy of Dunces” (published in 1980, eleven years after the author’s suicide at the age of 32). Steven Soderbergh and Scott Kramer (producer for “The Limey“) wrote a screenplay in the late ’90s (we still have a copy lying around somewhere) and in the early aughts, they attached David Gordon Green to direct circa “Undertow,” and names like Will Ferrell, Mos Def, and Drew Barrymore circulated for the lead roles (Barrymore would have co-produced).
But as Green told MTV in 2004, “There were too many cooks involved, too many producers [and] the egos of a lot of people.” It didn’t help that Soderbergh and producer Scott Rudin got involved in a nasty lawsuit over the project. The type of lawsuit that leaves dream projects like this in litigation purgatory.
But whatever limbo hell the production was caught in seems to be over. Vulture is reporting that “Flight of the Conchords” co-creator and “The Muppets” filmmaker James Bobin is in negotiations to bring the project to the big screen at long last. Attached to star as the colorful, hyper-erudite, but woefully slothful Ignatius J. Reilly is apparently none other than Zach Galifianakis, a rather perfect choice. And it seems that Rudin and Paramount Pictures, the original producer and studio, are still stewarding the adaptation..
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Set in New Orleans in the early 1960s, “A Confederacy of Dunces” centers on the sheltered, perpetually indignant 30-something manchild Ignatius who lives at home with his mom. In his quest for work — a hard day’s labor being something he’s only ever read about — Ignatius comes across an assortment of eccentric characters in the French Quarter. Suffice to say it’s one of this writer’s favorite novels, wry and funny as hell, though it’s not the easiest book in the world to adapt either.
Phil Johnston, who co-wrote Alexander Payne’s upcoming “Nebraska” and penned “Cedar Rapids” is evidently being pegged to write the script. This isn’t the only would-be iteration of the novel either. Harold Ramis tried to make the film in the 1980s with John Belushi, but he overdosed fatefully just days before a studio meeting. Other portly comedians circled the project over the years including John Candy and Chris Farley, but none of these projects came to pass.
Our only concern: Paramount Picture is becoming the house that makes films like “G.I Joe” and “Mission Impossible” films, but we suppose they are still the house that makes modestly budgeted Jason Reitman films, so that’s at least something. Fingers crossed.