Eric Stonestreet, HBO Team for Fatty Arbuckle Telefilm

The project, which is in development, would revolve around the famed comedian's rise and fall.
Eric McCandless/ABC
Eric Stonestreet

Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet is channeling his inner Fizbo the Clown for HBO.

The actor is attached to star in The Day the Laughter Stopped, a telefilm in development at HBO Films revolving around silent film star Fatty Arbuckle.

John Adams writer Kirk Ellis is on board to pen the project, with Barry Levinson on board to direct the telepic based on the book by David A. Yallop.

Arbuckle (1887-1933) was a silent film star, comedian, director and screenwriter who mentored Charile Chaplin and discovered Buster Keaton and Bob Hope.

The popular comedian also had his troubles: in 1921 Arbuckle was accused of raping and accidentally killing actress Virginia Rappe and was tried for her death three times. Though he was acquitted, the scandal plagued his career and worked sparingly in the 1920s.

The HBO telepic would span his rise to fame and subsequent fall.

"In addition to the fact that I'm from Kansas and he's from Kansas, I just always found it to be such a fascinating and tragic story," Stonestreet told Vulture. "He went from this jolly person who fell down and entertained people into a sexual deviant. It's a true story people don't know about, with a twist."

Ellis, Levinson, Stonestreet, Ron West, Chris Henze, Christine Vachon and Steve Kavovit are on board as executive producers.

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