Armstrong on double duty as NL hails 'Mary'


New Line Cinema has come out on top of an intense bidding war for "Multiple Mary," a comedy that scribe Scot Armstrong will write and which will serve as his directorial debut. Armstrong and his New York-based American Work Inc. shingle also have signed a two-year, first-look deal with the studio.

"Mary" revolves around two best buddies find new girlfriends. But when they discover that the girlfriends live inside the same body, they go to battle over a woman with multiple personality disorder. It is based on an original script by Jay Dyer that Armstrong will rewrite. Armstrong and American Work partner Ravi Nandan will produce along with Radar Pictures' Ted Field and Joe Rosenberg.

The project hit town Tuesday, immediately attracting multiple suitors. Sources said those interested included New Line, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Paramount and DreamWorks. By Tuesday night, when the price crossed the $1 million mark, Paramount and DreamWorks were out. Bidding continued through Wednesday among Warners, Universal and New Line, with NL ultimately shelling out more than $2 million.

Insiders said what made "Mary" so appealing was that the comedy is not cast-reliant, as many are, and offered a very strong female role — a rarity in the comedy world. Also on the plus side was Armstrong's track record in attracting comedic talent, having worked with Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn.

That New Line won is fitting because Armstrong has an established history with the studio. He wrote on Ferrell's "Elf"; is producing with Radar on "Jeff the Demon," with Will Arnett attached to star; and is writing the Ferrell basketball comedy "Semi-Pro."

"Scot did great work on 'Elf,' his script for 'Semi-Pro' landed Will Ferrell, and his take on 'Multiple Mary' is inspired," New Line president of production Toby Emmerich said. "We think he has the talent to pull off this movie."

Emmerich and Cale Boyter are overseeing for New Line.

Armstrong's credits include "Road Trip," "Old School," "Bad Santa" and "Starsky & Hutch." He is repped by CAA.

Dyer, who was a writer-producer on "Andy Richter Controls the Universe," also is repped by CAA.