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Ben Stiller's got two dramatic movies on the way, one about the Chippendales night club, the other about Thomas Edison!

Published at: March 31, 2014, 9:10 p.m. CST by Papa Vinyard

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

Even if THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY didn't run off with all the Oscars or the hearts of critics like Fox probably hoped for, it did well enough at the box office ($184 million worldwide) that Ben Stiller's attempt at more dramatic fare can be viewed as a success. Now, he's got two similarly serious-minded projects on his plate that I don't think he would've necessarily been offered in those pre-MITTY days. First is AMERICAN BEAUTY/SIX FEET UNDER/TRUE BLOOD writer Alan Ball's I AM CHIPPENDALES, a biopic of the legendary all-male dancing club which would have Stiller playing murdered choreographer Nick de Noia. Next is THE CURRENT WAR, a real-life period story of the competition between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, which Stiller would direct. The film would depict the race between the two genius engineers to install a workable cross-country electricity system for the homes of American citizens. Spoiler alert: Westinghouse wins.

 

For anyone who's seen or heard Stiller speak outside of his billion-dollar-plus grossing comedies knows that he comes off as a more reserved, thoughtful guy than his goofball "where'd the semen go?" roles would imply. WALTER MITTY showed that side of him more than any film since maybe REALITY BITES (or, at least, CABLE GUY), and it's great to see him branching out into more serious fare, whether it be as a supporting actor or as director. THE CURRENT WAR, in particular, is the most removed from Stiller's wheelhouse of any of his directorial efforts (including MITTY); I mean, I don't expect Edison and Westinghouse's rivalry to devolve into ENVY or anything (oh, I know he didn't direct ENVY, I'm just saying...).

 

As for I AM CHIPPENDALES, there's still a few major roles that have yet to be cast, such as Chippendale founders Somen Banerjee (De Noia's alleged killer), Bruce Nahin (who apparently suggested that famous SNL sketch), and Paul Snider (who, as you remember, was the crazy asshole who murdered Dorothy Stratten, and was played by Eric Roberts in STAR 80). I'm expecting a way more nuanced look at the male-dancing scene of the late-'70s/early-'80s than we may have been given in years past; more MAGIC MIKE, less SHOWGIRLS or 54.

 

-Vincent Kim-Zahedi
”Papa Vinyard”
vincentzahedi@gmail.com
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