The writing team of Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley just closed a deal at Warner Bros to script a feature vehicle for Steve Carell based on the 2008 documentary Of All The Things. That film told the story of how songwriter/producer Dennis Lambert achieved rock star status late in life when he went on a singing tour of the Philippines, and discovered he was to Filipinos what Jerry Lewis is to the French. Carell’s Warner Bros-based Carousel is producing with Bryan and Sean Furst. The studio acquired the remake rights, while Submarine is repping the docu’s distribution rights.
It’s the second project the writers are doing for Carell, who’s crafting film vehicles he’ll do after completing his run on The Office. They also wrote Burt Wonderstone, a New Line comedy that has Carell wanting to play a Vegas magician who accidentally kills his performing partner and tries to rebound while taking on a rival illusionist (the studio wants Sacha Baron Cohen for that role, but I’m told it’s unlikely). Of All The Things was directed by Lambert’s son, Jody, and is an affectionate look at a guy who first found success as the songwriter or producer of such memorable tunes as Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I’ve Got), One Tin Soldier, Rhinestone Cowboy, Night Shift, We Built This City, and Baby Come Back. “After Lennon and McCartney, he had the most hits on the Billboard charts, like around 75 songs,” said Goldstein. The one disappointment: while Lambert excelled writing and producing hit songs for others, his own 1972 solo album, Bags and Things, landed with a thud in the U.S. “Dennis left the music business and was selling real estate in Florida when he was told by a Filipino promoter that he’s still huge there because his album had been so successful. The promoter begged him to tour,” Daley said. “Finally, in his 60s and 20 years removed from the music business, Dennis says yes and suddenly he’s playing packed 10,000 seat arenas. The movie will be about what happens when a middle-aged guy finds himself a rock star who realizes dreams he never got to live out.”
Daley and Goldstein have had a strong writing run together, but they do equally well on their own. Daley is a regular on the TV series Bones, and his acting resume goes back to lead geek Sam Weir in the cult favorite series Freaks and Geeks. Goldstein, meanwhile, recently sold a pilot to CBS and is an executive consultant on the William Shatner sitcom $#*! My Dad Says. “Jonathan was a writer on The Geena Davis Show and I was acting in it,” Daley said. “We shared a similar sense of humor and decided four years ago to try our hand at writing specs.” They sold their first, $40,000 Man, to New Line, which has been their go-to place. That comedy is about a star athlete who gets in a terrible accident and is rebuilt by the government like the $6 Million Man, only he finds they used cut rate bionics. That picture is on a fast track at New Line, which just wrapped their script Horrible Bosses, the comedy that stars Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis. Daley also plays a role in what will be their first produced film as writers. The scribes are currently writing a reboot of the National Lampoon’s Vacation series for New Line, and they took a job at DreamWorks writing Cal of the Wild after a surreal meeting. “We were sitting with Stacey Snider, and Steven Spielberg walks in and pitches his idea about a guy who hosts a survivalist show and is a complete fraud,” Goldstein said. “It was one of those moments you dream about where at the end you say, ‘Yes, Steven Spielberg, we’ll write your idea.” They are repped by UTA and The Management Company.
Below, get a taste of Lambert’s artistry on a song he co-wrote that was turned into a hit by Tavares: