Ferrell going 'Semi-Pro' at New Line

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Will Ferrell is lacing up his high-tops for "Semi-Pro," a basketball comedy from New Line Cinema.

New Line exec Kent Alterman will be stepping down from company duties to make his directorial debut on the picture. Jimmy Miller is producing the film, which will co-star Woody Harrelson.

Written by Scot Armstrong, who worked with Ferrell on "Old School," the fictional story is set in the last year of the now-defunct world of the American Basketball Assn. and follows Jackie Moon, the owner-coach-player of the fictional Flint Michigan Tropics. Moon must lead his team on a desperate attempt to make it to the big leagues.

"I grew up in San Antonio, and I remember when an ABA team from Dallas moved in to become the San Antonio Spurs," Alterman said. "I remember when Scot came in with his pitch, he said, 'How about doing a comedy set in the world in the ABA?' That's all I needed to hear. Will was interested in it, and as we developed it further, it came together for me to direct."

Alterman developed a relationship with Ferrell when the exec oversaw "Elf," one of Ferrell's breakout films. There is a possibility that Alterman might direct its sequel.

After "Semi-Pro," Alterman will segue into an overall producing deal with the studio.

New Line's Toby Emmerich and Cale Boyter will oversee the project.

"I'm planning on having a very contentious relationship with them," Alterman said when asked how he anticipated working with his colleagues.

"Kent's been a great creative executive," Emmerich said. "He earned Will and Jimmy's trust and respect during 'Elf.' He continues a great tradition of New Line as a breeding ground for great creative talent. This is a perfect way for Kent to pursue his creative goals and for us to stay in business with three tremendous talents."

Ferrell, repped by CAA, next appears in "Blades of Glory." He next shoots "Step Brothers," being directed by Adam McKay.
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