EXCLUSIVE: Rob Zombie is ready to expand beyond the horror genre. Zombie and Miranda Bailey have acquired the rights to Steve Stoliar’s memoir Raised Eyebrows: My Years Inside Groucho’s House. Love & Mercy co-writer Oren Moverman will write the screenplay and Zombie is attached to direct. Cold Iron Pictures’ Miranda Bailey and Amanda Marshall are producing along with Zombie and Andy Gould.
The book tells the bizarre story of the last years in the life of Groucho Marx, told by a young Marx Brothers fan who spent those years as his personal secretary and archivist. In addition to getting to know his hero, the author found himself in the orbit of Groucho’s brothers Zeppo and Gummo, Mae West, George Burns, Bob Hope, Jack Lemmon, S.J. Perelman, Steve Allen, and scores of other luminaries of stage, screen, TV and literature. The downside of this dream-come-true was getting close to his idol as the curtain was coming down, and dealing with Erin Fleming – the mercurial woman in charge of Groucho’s personal and professional life.
There have been proposed projects about the life of Groucho and his Marx Brothers, the most recent from Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, the Big Eyes scribes who were going to direct a Marx Brothers movie but just could not get the budget down. This is a different way to tell the story and the choice of director is certainly unexpected.
Zombie, the multi-platinum recording artist-turned film director, made his mark directing small budget profitable genre films like House Of 1000 Corpses, two Halloween films, Lords Of Salem and the currently shooting 31, about five people kidnapped on the eve of Halloween and placed in a lethal funhouse called Murder World. But I’ve seen how meticulous Zombie is in the preparation and design of these fright films, and he could well make the kind of transition that Saw helmer James Wan and others have made from genre to more mainstream fare. He is separately writing to direct Broad Street Bullies, a film about the Philadelphia Flyers hockey teams that brawled their way to prominence. So while he would not be the obvious choice to make a touching film about the last days of iconic Groucho Marx based on his resume, turns out Zombie is a huge fan of the comic and is steeped in Marx Brothers lore.
“I have been a huge Groucho Marx fan ever since I was a child and have read countless book on the comic legend, but after reading the book Raised Eyebrows, a totally new perspective on Groucho’s life emerged,” says Zombie. “I immediately saw this project as Groucho’s Sunset Boulevard and knew I had to bring it to the big screen. It is a sad, funny and very dark tale of a one of Hollywood’s greatest stars final years.”
Bailey’s Cold Iron Pictures produced the upcoming Sony Pictures Classics film The Diary Of A Teenage Girl, which Marielle Heller directed with Kristen Wiig, Alexander Skarsgard, Christopher Meloni and Bel Powley starring. Bailey twice worked with Morverman on Time Out Of Mind and Oppenheimer Strategies, both of which star Richard Gere.
“Steve’s story detailing his experience with one of the most iconic comedians of our time was so poignantly crafted, and such a compelling read, that I immediately knew it was a project I wanted to be involved with. Rob is the perfect visionary to direct Oren’s script to the screen.” ICM Partners is handling sales for the film. Moverman is repped by WME and Zombie is repped by UTA, Spectacle Entertainment and attorney David Fox.