Josh Gad Closes Deal to Play Roger Ebert in 'Russ & Roger'

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Roger Ebert, Josh Gad

Will Ferrell is already attached to portray Russ Meyer in the STX comedy.

Josh Gad has signed on to portray film critic Roger Ebert in Russ & Roger, STX Entertainment's comedy centering on the film critic and filmmaker Russ Meyer.

Will Ferrell is already on board to play Meyer, the sexploitation king who made movies like Wild Gals of the Naked West and Faster Pussycat! Kill Kill! before finally landing a picture deal at 20th Century Fox, which liked the way he handled his budgets. The first movie out of the gate was Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, a satire that ran afoul the censors but ended up becoming a 1970s classic.

Meyer wrote that movie with Ebert, who in the late 1960s was just a budding film critic and had written Meyer a letter of admiration. Together, the two tackled the ratings tribunal and the tightly-wound studio.

Russ & Roger is described as a debaucherous comedy centering on two outsiders who defied the Hollywood establishment and made one of the first X-rated films ever released by a major movie studio, having the party of a lifetime in the process.

Michael Winterbottom is directing the feature, which has a script by Chris Cluess and a production polish by Winterbottom, Neil Gibbons and Rob Gibbons. Producing are David Permut, and Sobini's Mark Amin and Richard Waltzer.

Gad's involvement was initially rumored last winter, even before the project had its director. Even though he was the frontrunner, a deal took months to make.

Gad became a household voice when he gave life to Olaf the snowman in Disney's Frozen. He starred with Adam Sandler and Peter Dinklage  in Sony's action-comedy Pixels and just wrapped production on Disney's live-action take on Beauty and the Beast, in which he plays Le Fou.

Gad is repped by WME, Brillstein Entertainment and Ziffren Brittenham.

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