By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com October 25, 2010 at 1:21AM
Also Working On Politically-Themed HBO Comedy
One of the biggest comedy triumphs of last year was Armando Iannucci's "In The Loop." A feature spin-off from the British comedian's TV show "The Thick Of It," it managed to examine the ludicrous decisions from the people in power that led to the war in Iraq, while still providing more belly laughs and quotable lines than most of the comedies in recent memory. While Iannucci's a familiar name in the UK thanks to his work on the likes of "I'm Alan Partridge" and the incredible "Time Trumpet," his feature film debut raised his profile internationally, and he's been working on a follow-up, described as a visual "slapstick comedy," which was revealed as being called "Out the Window" at Cannes this year.
Iannucci gave an interview to The Guardian over the weekend in support of an imminent "Thick Of It" spin-off book, and revealed the first details of the project, which is being backed by BBC Films. Despite what some inaccurate reporting on other sites might suggest, the project isn't about Charles Dickens, but instead is "The story of a guy who works in a glass-fronted office building and one day he scratches his armpit. Somebody films it, puts it on YouTube with a soundtrack of monkey noises. It ruins his life. So this guy spends the rest of the film trying to track down the bastard who made him known the world over as Scratchy Monkey."
It seems like a typically timely concept for Iannucci to tackle, even if it doesn't immediately sound like the Buster Keaton-style picture that was initially promised. As originally announced, Iannucci is collaborating on the script with his "The Thick Of It" colleagues Will Smith (again, despite what other sites have announced, not the major movie star, but the British comic of the same name) and Roger Drew, and it was originally titled "Perpetual Commotion."
Iannucci's also currently serving as script editor on a long-awaited film project focusing on Alan Partridge, the faded talk show host that made the name of Steve Coogan. Iannucci's working on that script with Coogan and Patrick Marber ("Closer"), who created the character together, although he won't confirm any details on the plot, other than to confirm that it won't involve Partridge traveling to the States.
As reported previously, the comic's also working on a project for HBO, although he reveals in the interview that it doesn't, as rumored, focus on an internet start-up, and will instead see him turning his political nous to the States, for a series that would focus on the office of the Vice-President. "...The office of vice-president is really interesting. It can be an office where the incumbent is scheming against the president or, as in Cheney's case, doing the president's job. In my series the vice-president was a powerful senator, but who now has nothing like that power."
The potential for the series, which he compares to "The Larry Sanders Show" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is immense -- there's something inherently comic about the position, and HBO's backing should prevent the watered-down treatment that the Christopher Guest-helmed pilot for an American version of "The Thick Of It," starring Oliver Platt as Malcolm Tucker, received. Having said that, it's a little while off yet -- Iannucci is still waiting for the pilot to be green-lit. Nevertheless, we'll be seeing much more of the writer-director in the next few years, and we couldn't be happier about it.