Ed Helms shoots the 'Rapids'

Actor to star in indie road-trip comedy

Ed Helms is attached to star in "Cedar Rapids," an indie ensemble road-trip comedy that Miguel Arteta is attached to direct. Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor and Jim Burke are producing via their Ad Hominem Enterprises banner.

The story centers on a wholesome and naive small-town Wisconsin man (Helms), who, when his role model dies, must represent his company at a regional insurance conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where his mind is blown by the big-town experience.

Phil Johnston wrote the script on spec, attracting several producers including Ad Hominem. He was a broadcast journalist in the Midwest who moved to New York to attend film school at Columbia. He secured representation from UTA and Industry Entertainment and wrote "Jeremy Orm is a Pervert," which launched him into Hollywood.

"Rapids" is not set up but could land at Fox Searchlight, for which Payne and Taylor made "Sideways" and Ad Hominem executive produced Tamara Jenkins' "The Savages." The project, which began gathering momentum once Arteta boarded, is receiving interest from other companies.

Arteta, repped by WME, directed Dimension's "Youth in Revolt," starring Michael Cera and Zach Galifianakis.

Helms, one of the stars of NBC's "The Office," is enjoying big-screen success with "The Hangover," which has made more than $226 million domestically. The actor, repped by CAA and Principato-Young, next appears in "The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard."