EXCLUSIVE: It will be Taylor Hackford who directs Robert De Niro in his passion project The Comedian, the Art Linson-scripted drama that the Oscar-winning actor has been sweet on for years. Mike Newell recently signed on when the film got its financing together, but he exited due to scheduling. The plan is to still shoot in mid-January in New York. Linson and John Linson will produce the film along with Cinelou’s Mark Canton and Courtney Solomon. Cinelou, which funded the Jennifer Aniston-starrer Cake, is financing the picture. Casting is underway.
De Niro will play a toxic insult comic on the order of a Don Rickles (with whom De Niro starred in Casino). It will be De Niro’s second time working the crowd for laughs, after he played the iconic stalker/aspiring comedian Rupert Pupkin in The King Of Comedy. The project has been one both De Niro and Linson have been trying to pull together for years, and the stand-up material was written by Jeffrey Ross, a staple of Friars and celebrity roasts on Comedy Central who usually outshines the rest of the dais. Linson wrote the Hollywood-centric pic What Just Happened?, which starred De Niro as a harried producer.
Hackford most recently helmed the Jason Statham-starrer Parker and before that Love Ranch and Ray, which won Jamie Foxx the Oscar for playing Ray Charles. De Niro has the Nancy Meyers-directed The Intern opposite Anne Hathaway, and stars with Edgar Ramirez in the Jonathan Jacubowicz-directed Hands Of Stone, which The Weinstein Company acquired at Cannes for release next year. He recently wrapped the Scott Mann-directed heist film Bus 657, and the David O Russell-directed Joy with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, and will star opposite Zac Efron in the Dan Mazer-directed comedy Dirty Grandpa.
Cinelou, started by Canton and Solomon, has wrapped Henry Joseph Church, the Bruce Beresford-directed film from a Susan McMartin script that stars Eddie Murphy. This is the film that had the working title Cook, and Cinelou Films and EMA Films Production made it in association with Shenghua Entertainment in association with Voltage Pictures.
Hackford is repped by CAA.