Jim Carrey boards 'Mr. Popper's Penguins' pic

3:00 PM PST 08/20/2010 by Alex Ben Block

Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Owen Wilson circled adaptation

The popular 1938 children's book "Mr. Popper's Penguins" finally is marching toward the big screen, with Jim Carrey starring as a businessman who inherits a flock of penguins.

Carrey's casting follows a search for a lead actor that seemed to last longer than a forced march to the South Pole.

Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Owen Wilson were among those who circled an updated adaptation that will be produced by John Davis for Fox before talks with Carrey heated up this summer.

The film is on the fast track at Fox and will begin production in October in New York.

Mark Waters is on board to direct a script by Sean Anders and John Morris that modernizes the whimsical story.

In the book, a house painter who dreams of traveling writes a letter to Admiral Drake, who answers him on a radio show and then sends him a penguin captured near the South Pole. Then he gets a second penguin, and that leads to a dozen more and chaos at the painter's house.

To pay for all this, the painter trains the birds to perform, but his adventure in showbiz doesn't go well and he eventually travels with the admiral back to the North Pole to release the birds into the wild.

In the new version, Carrey plays a New York businessman who receives a half-dozen penguins who wreak havoc on his business and apartment before he finds important life lessons in their presence.

Carrey most recently was heard onscreen as the voice of Scrooge in the CGI remake of "A Christmas Carol," which opened in December. His most recent live-action role was in Warner Bros.' "Yes Man" which opened in late 2008 and grossed nearly $100 million in the U.S. and about $226 million worldwide, good for anyone else but only average for Carrey.

Carrey also has completed a starring role as a gay man in "I Love You Phillip Morris," which screened last year at Sundance and Cannes and has opened overseas but does not have a U.S. release date.

Carrey had been rumored to be considering a half-dozen or more other movies, but his publicist said Friday that there are no other movies to which he is attached.

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