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6 items from 2016

Jenny Slate to Co-Star With Jack Black in ‘Polka King’ (Exclusive)

19 July 2016 4:27 PM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Jenny Slate is set to co-star with Jack Black in the indie comedy “The Polka King.”

Jason Schwartzman and Jacki Weaver are also on board. “Infinitely Polar Bear” writer and director duo Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky are writing and directing.

The pic is based on the Joshua Brown and John Mikulak documentary, “The Man Who Would be Polka King,” following the rise and fall of Jan Lewan, a Pennsylvania polka sensation who shocked the polka world when it was revealed he seduced his fans into investing in a Ponzi scheme.

Black, David Permut, Stuart Cornfeld, Shivani Rawat, Monica Levinson and Priyanka Mattoo are producing. Rawat’s ShivHans Pictures is also financing “The Polka King.”

Slate has several films set to debut in the next year. She will star opposite Chris Evans in Marc Webb’s “Gifted,” which opens next April; “My Blind Brother,” which also stars Adam Scott; and “Brain on Fire, »

- Justin Kroll

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James Franco Tries to Charm Bryan Cranston in ‘Why Him?’ Trailer

30 June 2016 8:58 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Bryan Cranston is thoroughly unimpressed with James Franco’s charm offensive in the first trailer for Fox’s comedy “Why Him?

“He’s as strange as they come,” says Cranston, portraying a down-to-earth Midwestern father confronted by the fact that his daughter — played by Zoey Deutch as a Stanford student — has fallen in love with an uninhibited Internet billionaire played by Franco.

Franco tells Cranston that he’s going to marry the daughter, asserting, “By Christmas morning, you’re going to be calling me dad.”

Cranston is having none of it, despite Franco’s efforts to ingratiate himself — such as getting a tattoo on his back of the photo from Cranston’s family holiday card. “I’m going to take this octopus down,” he vows.

Megan Mullally plays Cranston’s wife and Keegan-Michael Key portray’s the manager of Franco’s estate.

John Hamburg is directing from a script he co-wrote with Ian Helfer. »

- Dave McNary

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Why R-Rated Comedies Have More Fun and More Highlights From Greenwich’s Comedy of Business Panel

13 June 2016 1:16 PM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

How do you make money being funny? Last weekend, the Greenwich International Film Festival’s Comedy Of Business Panel featured a selection of industry luminaries to talk about that exact topic. Actor Will Arnett (“Flaked”) joined producers Richard Brener (“Wedding Crashers”), Stuart Cornfeld (“Tropic Thunder”) and Chris Bender (“American Pie”) to talk about the process behind making a truly great comedy.

Between jokes about Twitter “correctness” and losing the script for “The Hangover” (which would go on to gross around $50 million), the seasoned assembly got down to the heart of what comedic films are today. Here are the three of their most interesting insights they had to offer.

Let the Douche Be the Fall Guy

“All of us are constantly being painted further and further into a corner,” said Arnett on the topic of political correctness in feature comedies.

In a time when Twitter backlash can ruin a career over an off color joke, the industry leaders had quite a bit to say about finding where to draw the line. When asked about Ben Stiller’s infamous “Tropic Thunder,” Cornfeld admitted it would be difficult to produce today, especially when it comes to the movie’s “full retard” sequence, of which Cornfeld said, “I can’t believe you would tell a joke like that now.” Richard Brener added, “or then.”

He later added, “Don’t aim low and miss. If there’s no joke behind the joke and it’s just mean spirited you’re going to fall on your face.” The panel revealed that it was this very reason that so many comedies feature an unlikable character saying horrendous things, like ‘American Pie’s douche extraordinaire Stiffler. If the audience knows the joke is coming from a bad person, they are less likely to take offense.

“I play a lot of dumb characters on purpose so I can say a lot of shitty things,” Arnett joked.

Read More: Greenwich International Film Festival Hires New Executive Director Colin Stanfield

R-Rated Movies Have More Fun

With difficulty to create comedy that would be inoffensive to anyone, the speakers agreed that R-rated comedy was the place to find freedom. Nearly everyone on the panel had taken part in making a movie that was acclaimed as bringing R-ratings back into style. From box office successes like the “Wedding Crashers” and “Zoolander” to the more recent giant “The Hangover,” the popularity of R is cyclical every few years.

Speaking from his own experience with “American Pie,” Chris Bender noted that, “R is so much more freeing, both in, like, being more truthful and real in language.” PG-13 may be more attractive to studios that want as many people to see a movie as possible, but language constraints can often stunt comedy. Brener, who works for the studio New Line Cinema confirmed, “You only get one non-sexual ‘fuck.’”

Read More: ‘Arrested Development’ Season 5 to be a ‘Serialized Murder Mystery,’ Could Premiere By November 2016

Make A Comedy For the Joy and the Pain

When you boil it down, comedies are perhaps the most difficult (and wonderful) movies to make.

For Arnett, “it’s always about the experience of it. I know that for me, as a performer, if you’re going to have a good experience and feel like you’re a part of something you are really into, the other person is going to raise their game. So, you want to do that because that’s kind of the recipe for success.” The panel agreed, if it looks like the audience was having fun making it, they probably were.

However, as a producer, that is not always the case. For Cornfeld, the Tenacious D movie was the best experience, but never yielded returns like he thought. Whereas on the set of “Zoolander,” his money problems with the studio went as far as debt collectors leaving him threatening messages at his home.

But it does feel good to look back and laugh. Brenner and Bender certainly do when they remember how they almost made “The Hangover.” After workshopping the script, and even providing the key plot point of the groom disappearing (something that really happened to a friend), the script went to another studio. They both admitted it would not be the same wonderful movie if they had made it.

In fact, it’s Brenner’s dad’s favorite movie. “He brings it up every time I see him,” he laughed at the lowest point of his career.

Watch the full panel below:

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- Sarah Colvin

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Greenwich Film Festival Adds Comedy Panel & More Events

25 May 2016 11:20 AM, PDT | Deadline | See recent Deadline news »

The Greenwich Film Festival unveiled its lineup of events that includes Lol: The Big Business Of Comedy, a panel discussion June 11 to be moderated by Deadline co-Editor-in-Chief Mike Fleming Jr. Panelists include New Line production president Richard Brener, producer Chris Bender, manager-producer Peter Principato, Red Hour principal Stuart Cornfeld and Will Arnett. Also on the docket is a Children's Acting Workshop panel and a Spotlight On conversation with fest honoree… »

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‘Another Period’ Renewed for Season 3 at Comedy Central

23 May 2016 8:00 AM, PDT | Variety - TV News | See recent Variety - TV News news »

Comedy Central has renewed historical comedy “Another Period” for Season 3 ahead of its Season 2 premiere, Variety has learned.

The series, co-created, written by and starring Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome, debuts its second season on Wednesday, June 15 at 10 p.m. Jeremy Konner directs the show, which is executive produced by Leggero, Lindhome, Konner and Red Hour’s Ben Stiller, Debbie Liebling, Stuart Cornfeld and Mike Rosenstein. Monika Zielinska and Tara Schuster are the executives in charge of production for Comedy Central.

“We’d like to thank Comedy Central for this continued opportunity to dress like queens and act like a–holes,” said Leggero and Lindhome in a statement.

Ahead of the second season’s debut, the entire first season will be available on the Comedy Central app and official website beginning June 8.

Another Period” tells the story of the Bellacourt sisters, Lillian and Beatrice (played by Leggero and Lindhome), who »

- Laura Prudom

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STX Partners with Ben Stiller for ‘Alex Strangelove’ Comedy

9 May 2016 1:49 PM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

STX Entertainment is developing teen comedy “Alex Strangelove” with Craig Johnson (“The Skeleton Twins”) and is in advanced talks with Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Films to produce.

Johnson is directing from his own script about high school senior Alex Strangelove, whose quest to lose his virginity — eagerly awaited by his patient girlfriend, cheered on by his rowdy friends — launches him into an exploration of modern manhood.

In addition to Red Hour, STX is also in talks on “Alex Strangelove” with producers Nicky Weinstock and Jared Goldman.

Red Hour, which is operated by Stiller and Stuart Cornfeld, announced in November that it was  partnering with Bold Films to produce a slate of new movie, TV and digital projects. It also announced that Weinstock was joining Red Hour at that point.

Red Hour, which had a longstanding first-look deal at Fox, has produced mostly comedies including the “Zoolander” movies,  “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, »

- Dave McNary

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2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 1991

6 items from 2016

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