BBC raises flag on political pic


James Gandolfini, David Rasche and former child actor Anna Chlumsky will star in the political satire "In the Loop" for BBC Films.

Gandolfini will play a general in the unofficial adaptation of the BBC series "The Thick of It," which parodies the inner workings of U.S. and British government agencies and their international relations. Chlumsky plays a State Department assistant, and Rache ("United 93") is an undersecretary of state.

"Thick" scribe Armando Iannucci is directing from his screenplay. Peter Capaldi, Chris Addison and Paul Higgins from the British series star alongside Tom Hollander and Gina McKee.

Kevin Loader (Miramax's "Venus," "Brideshead Revisited") and Adam Tandy are among the producers. Filming gets under way this month in Washington and the U.K.

The film marks a prestigious return for "My Girl" star Chlumsky, who unknowingly trained for her government assistant character while studying international relations at the University of Chicago. After teen acting roles dried up, she says she experienced a "pre-life crisis." She moved to Brooklyn in 2002 and took stints fact-checking for the restaurant guide Zagat.

An epiphany soon came at her nail salon, she said. "Roberta Flack was there getting a manicure and recognized me," Chlumsky recalled. "She told me I should stay in the business. So did a psychic I met on the street." Stints in off-Broadway plays followed, as did a few minor screen roles, including her friends' low-budget horror film "Blood Car."

Gandolfini is repped by Endeavor and Sanders Armstrong Caserta Management. Chlumsky and Rasche are repped by Innovative and Liebman Management. (partialdiff)