Hollywood has been trying to make a movie about stand-up comedian/ormer Pentecostal preacher/professional screamer Sam Kinison for years now, and today the project has taken two incredibly important steps forward. Deadline has learned that Larry Charles, the filmmaker behind movies such as Borat, Religulous and The Dictator, has been hired to direct the feature, while Josh Gad, the Tony-nominated star of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's Broadway hit Book of Mormon, has been cast in the lead role.
Based on the book Brother Sam by Bill Kinison (Sam's brother) and adapted by Rich Wilkes (xXx), the film will be titled Kinison and will begin in the early 80s as the comedian broke away from "the family business of Pentecostal preaching" and moved to Hollywood where he could start his career in stand up. By the mid-80s he was performing on Late Night with David Letterman and even made his acting debut in Rodney Dangerfield's Back to School, but the success ended up getting to him and he fell deep into the world of drugs and alcohol. He was able to clean up his act, but his potential-filled career was cut short in 1992 when his car was struck head-on by a drunk driver. Said Producer David Permut about the project in a statement,
“There was nothing conventional about Sam Kinison and neither will be the cinematic interpretation of his life. Larry Charles is the perfect director to bring Rich Wilkes’ incredible script to screen, and Josh Gad’s tremendous ability to morph into a role will bring great depth to Kinison’s larger than life persona.”
Those who have been following the development of this project are probably surprised that it's now Gad that's starring in the film. Years ago, when Ace Ventura: Pet Detective director Tom Shadyac was set to direct, the movie had Dan Fogler attached to star, and it seemed like a match made in heaven. How can we be so sure? Screen test footage began circulating showing Fogler in character, and there wasn't a single mannerism that the actor didn't absolutely nail. You can watch the video below:
So what went wrong? It's kind of hard to say. The Deadline report doesn't even mention Fogler's name, let alone have an embed of the test footage. If this project does move forward as planned, expect the answer to come out in the future.
Producers on the feature are reportedly now having conversations with actors and stand-up comedians to play roles like Howard Sternm Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker,Oral Roberts, and Richard Pryor. There is no mention of when they are planning to go into production.