By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist November 11, 2010 at 2:37AM
About six months ago, in the midst of a brief craze for studios picking up the rights to CGI-heavy viral shorts, one of the hottest properties was Patrick Jean's "Pixels," a glorified music video which featured a swarm of pixels attacking New York, taking the form of classic 8-bit video game icons like Donkey Kong and Space Invaders (you can refresh your memory by watching the short below).
Adam Sandler's production company Happy Madison, and their frequent backers Columbia Pictures, won the bidding war back in May, and after what was presumably a few months development work, The Hollywood Reporter have reported that a writer has finally been hired for the project, which was initially described as a "Ghostbusters"-style adventure comedy, likely to be in 3D.
Happy Madison's process for picking writers is notoriously rigorous: first, Sandler & co scour the pages of the New York Review Of Books, lists of recent Pulitzer Prize winners and Nobel laureates, as well as recommendations from top literary agents. Each potential writer is then asked to send in a sample of their writing. Sandler then personally interviews 75 writers, of which ten are invited to an exclusive literary retreat in Tuscany -- the Little Nicky Camp, as it's known -- which for Sandler's upcoming "Just Go With It" included the likes of Joan Didion, Jonathan Franzen, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, V.S. Naipaul, Sir Tom Stoppard and Chinua Achebe. Sandler then makes his decision based on a ten-page treatment submitted by each of the writers.
A similarly tough contest was held this time round, but Happy Madison have finally made their pick for "Pixels," and the likes of Philip Roth will have to go home disappointed, as former "Saturday Night Live" writer Tim Herlihy has won out. Herlihy's previous film credits are made up of "Billy Madison," "Happy Gilmore," "The Waterboy," "The Wedding Singer," "Big Daddy," "Little Nicky," "Mr. Deeds," "Bedtime Stories" and "Just Go With It," all of which, entirely coincidentally, star Adam Sandler.
It's good to see the company venturing into entirely new territory with the hiring of Herlihy. There's still no news if Sandler will topline this one, but it seems fairly likely. The only question is when the film will go before cameras, but with the script for "Grown Ups" having been completed in 45 minutes in crayon on the back of a series of cocktail napkins, it's entirely possible that it could shoot next year for a release in 2012.