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There's a Roger Ebert/Russ Meyer biopic in the works!

Papa Vinyard here, now here's a little somethin' for ya...

Roger Ebert was an insurmountable figure in the film world, and no amount of homage could appropriately describe his impact on the field of cinematic analysis. It was only a matter of time before someone attempted to depict the legendary critic on celluloid. Interestingly enough, it will be a depiction of his relationship with Russ Meyer that we first see Rog as a central dramatic figure onscreen. Meyer, the FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL KILL! and VIXEN! director, was friends with Ebert for nearly 35 years until his death in 2004, and it is that relationship and it's genesis that will serve as the focus for an upcoming biopic.


Christopher Cluess, who's worked on THE SIMPSONS, MADtv, and is an Emmy winner for his work on the fourth season of SCTV, has sold a script entitled RUSS & ROGER GO BEYOND centering around the production of BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, which, of course, Meyer directed and Ebert wrote. The cute title (which I reckon should be axed) implies that the film will highlight the development of their friendship on that film's set, and maybe some juicy details of the making of that film. This is a pretty cool film geek project to keep on the lookout for, especially during the casting stage. Who they get to fill the shoes of these two icons will play a big part in the overall impact (and, ostensibly, the box office potential) of this particular project.


Press release below:




Los Angeles, CA – (October 8, 2013) Mark Amin’s Sobini Films is partnering with David Permut’s Permut Presentations and Richard Waltzer’s Chautauqua Entertainment to acquire RUSS & ROGER GO BEYOND, a screenplay written by Emmy winner Christopher Cluess (SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, THE SIMPSONS) based on the true story of the unique relationship between provocative filmmaker Russ Meyer and legendary critic Roger Ebert while they made BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS at 20th Century Fox.


Permut, Amin and Waltzer will produce the film with Sobini Films’ Cami Winikoff, Tyler Boehm and David Higgins and Permut Presentations' Chris Mangano Executive Producing, and Steve Longi Co-producing.


At the end of the 60’s when films like EASY RIDER and BONNIE & CLYDE were reaching new audiences, Meyer, the outlaw director of soft-core pulp films like FASTER PUSSYCAT, KILL, KILL, KILL was given the opportunity to fulfill his lifelong dream of directing a studio film by Richard Zanuck, then head of 20th Century Fox. The studio was struggling with a string of big budget failures and Zanuck thought Meyer was the solution.  He offered him BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS and Meyer agreed on the condition that Ebert, then the third string film critic for the Chicago Sun Times (who had written one of the few positive reviews of his work) would write the script. BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS became a struggle between the outsider filmmakers and the establishment studio's board of directors, particularly over the film's rating. Meyer, Ebert and Zanuck were ultimately vindicated when BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS was released in 1970 to huge box office success.


Meyer and Ebert remained friends until Meyer passed away in September 2004. Ebert passed away earlier this year after a long public battle with cancer.  Last month the Toronto International Film Festival's opening night paid tribute to Roger Ebert's life and career.


Sobini Films recently finished shooting period thriller ELIZA GRAVES directed by Brad Anderson and starring Kate Beckinsale, Jim Sturgess, Ben Kingsley and Michael Caine. Sobini’s upcoming projects include A MOMENT TO REMEMBER, a remake of the hit Korean drama by the same name with Ben Lewin (THE SESSIONS) directing and a futuristic reboot of the Zorro franchise.  


Permut Presentations recently announced their upcoming feature film projects I AM CHIPPENDALES, written and to be directed by Alan Ball about the dark true-story behind the birth of the famous Los Angeles male strip club, and a Sam Kinison bio-pic to be directed by Larry Charles, staring Josh Gad as the drug fueled preacher turned comedian.  Also, Permut is wrapping post production on his next film MATCH, starring Patrick Stewart, and the made for television movie THE COLOR OF RAIN, based on the best-selling book of the same name.


Who do you see filling out the roles of Roger Ebert and Russ Meyer?

-Vincent Zahedi
”Papa Vinyard”
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