Josh Gad is being eyed to play late film critic and screenwriter Roger Ebert in the upcoming biopic Russ & Roger Go Beyond, alongside Will Ferrell, who is now confirmed to play indie filmmaker Russ Meyer. The Wrap reports that Josh Gad has not even read the script yet and his deal is not finalized, but producer David Permut told Hollywood Elsewhere on Sunday that Josh Gad is on board. Jonah Hill was initially eyed for the Roger Ebert role, though a deal could not be worked out.
The script, which was written by Chris Cluess (Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons), follows the relationship between rising film critic Roger Ebert and director Russ Meyer, as they team up to make the 1970 cult classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. After the then-28-year-old Roger Ebert wrote one of the few positive reviews for one of Russ Meyer's films, the director hand picked the critic to write the script for his latest project. The story will follow the duo's clashes with the studio system and the MPAA ratings board, leading to Beyond the Valley of the Dolls being one of the few studio releases to receive an X rating. The writer and director were ultimately vindicated when the film became a profitable hit for 20th Century Fox.
David Permut is producing alongside Richard Waltzer, Mark Amin, Cami Winikoff, David Higgins and Tyler Boehm, with Chris Mangano serving as an executive producer, although no production schedule was given. Josh Gad will next be seen in The Wedding Ringer, hitting theaters January 16, and in this summer's Pixels.