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Fans of Roger Ebert know that his time in Hollywood wasn't merely limited to film criticism. In 1970, he famously teamed up with director Russ Meyer to make the musical comedy Beyond The Valley of The Dolls, putting his skills as a writer to work on the movie's screenplay. Now a movie is being made about that particular cinematic venture, titled Russ & Roger Go Beyond, and the production has its eye on a very popular young comedian to play Ebert: Frozen's Josh Gad.
This news comes to us from The Wrap, which notes that Gad has not yet made a deal or even seen a script - but says that he is the number one choice to play Roger Ebert in the new film. A big part of what's expected to allure the young comedian is the opportunity to work directly alongside Will Ferrell, who signed on to play Russ Meyer in the movie last August. No director is currently attached to the project, but the film is working from Saturday Night Live writer Christopher Cluess.
As the story goes, Roger Ebert was a big fan of Russ Meyer's work, and after reading one of the young writer's positive reviews the director offered him a job: writing the script for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. The upcoming film will chronicle their friendship through the making of the movie, which was filled with all kinds of trials and tribulations due to the ratings board (who wanted to give the film an 'X') and dealings with the heads of 20th Century Fox.
According to the new report, there was talk at one time about Jonah Hill possibly playing Roger Ebert in Russ & Roger Go Beyond, though apparently talks weren't able to lead to a deal. Josh Gad is certainly an apt replacement - as he also is chubby, and has curly hair and glasses - and right now he is at a pretty good place in his career. After years of playing supporting roles, Gad voicing Olaf in the animated hit Frozen made him a household name, and recently he's been getting headline roles as a result. Next week he will be seen co-starring with fellow big up-and-comer Kevin Hart in The Wedding Ringer, which should give audiences a good sense of what Gad can do with a lead role. It could tell us a lot about what we may eventually see from him as Roger Ebert.
Russ & Roger Go Beyond is obviously still very much in the development stages, but if things progress with Josh Gad then it's not hard to imagine the film starting production within the year - provided it doesn't take too long to find an appropriate director to handle the material.