Aniston, Bateman, Day circling 'Bosses'

3:08 PM PST 05/11/2010 by Borys Kit, AP

THR EXCLUSIVE

After years of trying, New Line is close to making the workplace murder comedy "Horrible Bosses."

Jason Bateman and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" star Charlie Day are in negotiations to star as frustrated employees in the feature, which is being directed by Seth Gordon and produced by Rat Entertainment.

New Line is in the process of attracting A-list names for the roles of the bosses, including a master manipulator, a sexually aggressive dentist and a weaselly scion. Jennifer Aniston is joining Colin Farrell in entering negotiations to play two of the movies' three chiefs.

The project has attracted a plethora of candidates over the years. Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn and Ashton Kutcher and Dax Shepherd were two of the combinations attempted, with helmers such as Frank Oz and David Dobkin in the director's seat. One phase saw Roger Kumble developing the project with Matthew McConaughey to star.

The project began a new life in light of last year's success of "The Hangover," which catapulted names mostly unknown outside of Hollywood circles -- Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis -- to new heights.

"Hangover" showed it is possible to make a modestly budgeted comedy that could soar and create stars if the chemistry is right. ("Old School," which caught Vaughn and Will Ferrell on the upswing, is another movie that did just that.) The model is something at which the old New Line, when introducing Mike Myers as Austin Powers, for example, excelled.

"Bosses" centers on three best friends who, frustrated by their jobs, come to the conclusion the only solution is to kill one another's bosses.

Bateman is a man who believes that his hard work will be rewarded but hits bottom when he gets passed over for a promotion. Day plays a hapless guy who's always in the wrong place at the wrong time. A part still to be cast is a ladies' man who gets a rude awakening when his boss dies and he is replaced.

Part of the movie's go status hinged on getting big names as the bosses, and New Line is locking those in place, with Aniston to play the aggressive dentist who is hitting on Day, and Farrell as the weasel.

Michael Markowitz wrote the initial spec, with Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley having penned the most recent draft. Brett Ratner and Jay Stern are producing via Rat.

Bateman, repped by CAA and 3 Arts Entertainment, was last seen in "Couples Retreat" and has the romantic comedy "The Switch," with Jennifer Aniston, awaiting release from Miramax.

Day, repped by WME and 3 Arts, is co-starring in New Line's Drew Barrymore/Justin Long comedy "Going the Distance." It's his work from that movie -- insiders say he steals scenes from the stars -- which led to New Line considering him for "Bosses."

Sam Brown and Michael Disco are overseeing for New Line.

Zorianna Kit contributed to this report.
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