EXCLUSIVE: Jennifer Aniston will star alongside Robert De Niro in The Comedian, the Taylor Hackford-directed drama that has been a De Niro passion project for years. The film will shoot early next year in New York. Art Linson, who wrote the script with comic Jeffrey Ross, and John Linson will produce the film along with Cinelou’s Mark Canton and Courtney Solomon. Cinelou, which funded the Aniston starrer Cake, is financing the picture.

Image (1) deniro__131024124725.png for post 619229De Niro plays a toxic insult comic on the order of a Don Rickles (with whom De Niro starred in Casino). Aniston meets him at a wedding, and they develop a close relationship. It will be De Niro’s second time behind the stand-up microphone, after playing 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, with stand-up material written by Ross, the Friars Club and Comedy Central roasts staple. Linson wrote the Hollywood-centric pic What Just Happened?, which starred De Niro as a harried producer, and he produced the De Niro pics Heat, The Untouchables and This Boy’s Life.

Aniston has been shooting The Yellow Birds and Mother’s Day. She’s repped by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment Group.

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.