the industry

Ricky Gervais Is Punching In

Back to Work: Sony International Motion Picture Production Group’s second-ever British project will be Ricky Gervais’s The Men at Pru. Gervais, who co-wrote the script with his Office and Extras partner Stephen Merchant, will direct and take on a supporting role. The flick is described as a coming-of-age tale about a group of men working at an insurance company in the seventies. A scripted work set in an office from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant? That could work! [Variety]

Magic Act: Summit Entertainment has purchased film rights to The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero. The 2006 biography stirred up some drama upon its release with a few juicy nuggets: It insinuated both that Houdini had been a British spy and that his death may have been retribution from the Spiritualist movement for his work debunking their tricks. Less promisingly, Summit’s not planning a biopic but a franchise-launching action-thriller, with Houdini becoming a character that’s part Indiana Jones and part Sherlock Holmes. And, we assume, mostly JawDroppers’ Larry Anderson. [HR]

Basketball Jones: Queen Latifah will star in Fox Searchlight’s Just Wright, a romantic comedy with Cinderella overtones that originated at Disney six years ago. Latifah plays a physical therapist who falls in love with a basketball player while helping him recover from a career-threatening injury. If they cast Ron Artest in the other lead, we are totally there. [Variety]

Keep on Truckin’: While rumors that he’d take on Wolverine 2 next were incorrect, Oscar-y Slumdog Millionaire screenwriter Simon Beaufoy does indeed have a new gig: He’s working on DreamWorks Animation’s Truckers, a project in the early stages of development with no plot details yet available. Finally, the plush-doll potential of long-haul truckers will be realized. [HR]

Set Sail: The industrious William Monahan is in talks to direct The Essex, a historical script he penned. The movie will tell the story of the Essex’s captain, David S. Porter, who valiantly battled the much larger British Royal Navy during the War of 1812. Another War of 1812 movie? Come on, we’re dying for some French and Indian action over here! [Variety]

Vampires = Scary: Marc Haimes’s original screenplay Elevator Men will head into production at Summit Entertainment. The flick aims to reveal the dangers of human-vampire relations. According to Haimes: “This is the dark, sinister version of what really happens when you decide you’re going to get close to really bad things.” Are you trying to say that not all vampires are as remarkably approachable as Robert Pattinson? [HR]

Ricky Gervais Is Punching In