Comedian Josh Gad (“Frozen,” TV’s “New Girl,” the upcoming “The Wedding Ringer”) is in talks to star as film critic Roger Ebert opposite Will Ferrell’s Russ Meyer in “Russ & Roger Go Beyond,” producer David Permut told Hollywood Elsewhere in Palm Springs on Sunday.
With a script by “SNL”‘s Christopher Cluess, the buddy comedy chronicles Ebert and director Meyer’s collaboration on the salacious, 1970 cult melodrama “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls”—the first and only screenplay Ebert ever wrote. More a parody than a sequel of the 1967 Jacqueline Susann adaptation “Valley of the Dolls,” the X-rated, sex-filled farce about a girl band was penned in just six weeks.
Though the deal has yet to be set in stone, Gad is on board according to Hollywood Elsewhere’s Jeffrey Wells (who takes issue with his casting) and The Wrap. Permut originally wanted Jonah Hill to play Ebert, but that fell through. The rest of “Russ & Roger”‘s producers include Richard Waltzer of Chautauqua Entertainment, Mark Amin of Sobini Films, Cami Winikoff, David Higgins, Tyler Boehm, Chris Mangano and Steve Longi.
Roger Ebert, who died in April 2013, is the subject of the moving, Oscar-contending documentary “Life Itself,” whose director Steve James spoke with us back in Sundance. That interview is here.