Ben Stiller and 'Saturday Night Live' veteran look to team on new comedy
EXCLUSIVE: Ben Stiller starred in a very small dramedy and a very big comedy ("Greenberg" and "Little Fockers," respectively) in 2010. Now he could make a reasonably sized science-fiction comedy.
The actor, who's already been weighing a remake of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," is considering starring in "Neighborhood Watch," a long-planned film that's set up at Fox, say two sources familiar with the project who asked not to be identified because were not authorized to talk about it publicly.
The film also is in the process of locking in a director: Akiva Schaffer, the Lonely Island and "Saturday Night Live" veteran is in negotiations, said the sources.
Should Stiller take the role, he would play the lead character, an urbanite who gets more than he bargains for -- in the form of extraterrestrial activity -- when he moves to the suburbs and joins the neighborhood watch. A new draft of the script was recently finished by Seth Rogen and his writing partner, Evan Goldberg. A Fox spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
"Watch" would reunite Stiller with Shawn Levy, the "Night at the Museum" director who is producing the film. The actor will next be seen onscreen in "Tower Heist," a Brett Ratner action comedy that comes out in November.
Schaffer is best known as one peg of the sketch-comedy troupe that created viral-video shorts such as "Lazy Sunday" and "Iran So Far" along with Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone. "Neighborhood Watch" would be his sophomore feature directing effort, after he helmed the low-budget comedy "Hot Rod" back in 2007.
"Neighborhood Watch's" development chain reads like a who's who of feature-comedy names. Stiller would be stepping into a part that was once set for Will Ferrell, with whom he has appeared in movies such as "Anchorman" and "Zoolander." In that previous incarnation of the film, Ferrell was to star and David Dobkin, the helmer of 'Wedding Crashers," was to direct; more recently, "50 First Dates" director Peter Segal was poised to get behind the camera.
Photo: Ben Stiller at the Chrysalis Butterfly Ball in 2010. Credit: Alfie Agius