Rumored for months as the front-runner to play Roger Ebert in a comedy co-starring Will Ferrell, “Pixels” actor Josh Gad now has closed a deal for the film, called “Russ & Roger Go Beyond.”
Hollywood trades report that Gad is set to play the late Sun-Times film critic in the 1960s, when he teamed up with sexploitation filmmaker Russ Meyer (Ferrell) to make the over-the-top counterculture classic “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.” Michael Winterbottom (“The Trip”) will direct.
Meyer hired Ebert, then a newcomer to the movie beat, to co-write the screenplay for the flesh-filled musical melodrama, later described by Ebert as seeming “more and more like a movie that got made by accident when the lunatics took over the asylum.”
A veteran of Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon,” Gad surged into the public consciousness as the voice of Olaf in Disney’s smash “Frozen.” In addition to “Pixels,” this year he appeared opposite Kevin Hart in “The Wedding Ringer” and with Billy Crystal on the FX sitcom “The Comedians.”
Production on “Russ & Roger” is set to start later this year.
The news follows last week’s announcement that Chicago actor and musician Kevin Pollack will play Ebert in a musical about the critic’s romance with wife Chaz, “The Black/White Love Play,” making its world premiere later this month at the Black Ensemble Theatre in Chicago.