The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Going crazy? Pitch your life as a comedy!

April 1, 2009 | 12:21 pm

My pal Tom Sherak, the veteran marketing and distribution executive, has complained for ages about the utter chaos of having some of his kids -- with the grandkids in tow -- living back at home. Now he's finally done something about it. He pitched the story to Paramount as a family comedy called "We'll Be Out for Christmas." As Variety reports today, it will be a family production. Sherak's wife, Madeleine, and his son William, who are both producers in their own right, will handle the production chores along with Jason Shuman, William's partner at Blue Star Productions. (Apparently dazzled by Madeleine's warmth and charm, Variety paid her the ultimate showbiz compliment, mistakenly billing her as Sherak's daughter in the story.)

So how did Sherak come up with the idea? He explains that one of his daughters had moved back home with her three kids while her husband while getting his MBA. The kids (ages 2, 6 and 8) came with two big dogs, who joined Sherak's own two dogs. It might not have been such a hectic time, except that Sherak was laid up with a bad hip (he's since had replacement surgery) and his wife Madeleine was off in New York making a movie. Matters finally came to a head one day when the kids were screaming and the dogs were barking and chasing the gardener and Sherak retreated to his bedroom -- the one place where he could have some peace and quiet -- to take a bath.

"It was the only place where I could really be alone and I go to the bath and there's my son-in-law, taking a bath himself. So I closed the door, lay down on the bed and I thought, 'This is so sad that it's funny.' I mean, I had to laugh, because what else could I do?"

Sherak says he was on the phone one day with Paramount production chief John Lesher, discussing some other business, when he asked if he could pitch him a movie. "All I said was, 'When your kids move back into your house with their kids, that's the movie.' Lesher laughed and said, 'Let's do it.' "

Lesher turned the project over to Brad Weston, the studio's co-president of production, who is overseeing it with Ben Cosgrove, one of the studio's production execs. The studio has hired Kristen Buckley and Brian Regan, who did "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," to write the screenplay, which if made, would be a Nickelodeon film. "It would be a variation on 'Cheaper by the Dozen,' " says Sherak, "I told the writers that if you ever get writers block, just come by my house for any two hours of the day. With all the kids and the dogs and the craziness, you'll get plenty of new material."