By Simon Dang | The Playlist December 10, 2011 at 9:46AM
Through their production shingle Smokehouse Pictures, George Clooney and Grant Heslov have been developing and producing interesting, intelligent fare over the last five years. The duo had Clooney's third directorial effort in "The Ides Of March" out this year, are backing Ben Affleck's "Argo," which is due out next year, and have a multitude of features in the works including "Our Brand is Crisis" (which Clooney has mentioned is likely to be next up for the duo), the Aaron Sorkin-penned "The Challenge," a movie based on Washington Post article "700 Billion Man" and "The Monster Of Florence" which Christopher McQuarrie is scripting.
The two have now added another project their ranks, utilising their partnership deal with Sony to plot a feature film about renowned '60's comedians Tom and Dicky Smothers -- collectively known as the Smothers Brothers -- recruiting Brian Hecker and Craig Sherman to write the script based on David Bianculli's book "Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story Of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour." No word yet on whether Clooney will be involved in a directorial or starring capacity though as it's still early days in the project's development.
The musically-inclined Smothers Brothers are best known for their variety show, "The Smothers Brothers Comedy House," which ran between 1967-69 and grew to become on the most controversial programs due to the shows emergence into a staple in the counterculture era. They eventually made one too many enemies on their show which led to the show's subsequent axing. The show was also renowned for its musical guests which included George Harrison, The Who, The Doors, Cream, Janis Ian and Jefferson Airplane and it's writing and performing staff which included Steve Martin, Rob Reiner, Bob Einstein and Albert Brooks. Here's a synopsis of Bianculli's book, courtesy of Amazon:
A behind-the-scenes look at the rise and fall of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour -- the provocative, politically charged program that shocked the censors, outraged the White House, and forever changed the face of television. Decades before The Daily Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour proved there was a place on television for no-holds-barred political comedy with a decidedly antiauthoritarian point of view. In this explosive, revealing history of the show, veteran entertainment journalist David Bianculli tells the fascinating story of its three-year network run -- and the cultural impact that's still being felt today.
Before it was suddenly removed from the CBS lineup (reportedly under pressure from the Nixon administration), The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour was a ratings powerhouse. It helped launch the careers of comedy legends such as Steve Martin and Rob Reiner, featured groundbreaking musical acts like the Beatles and the Who, and served as a cultural touchstone for the antiwar movement of the late 1960s. Drawing on extensive original interviews with Tom and Dick Smothers and dozens of other key players -- as well as more than a decade's worth of original research -- Dangerously Funny brings readers behind the scenes for all the battles over censorship, mind-blowing musical performances, and unforgettable sketches that defined the show and its era. David Bianculli delves deep into this riveting story, to find out what really happened and to reveal why this show remains so significant to this day.
Scribes Hecker and Sherman also seem to be an interesting choice for the film as relative newcomers. Their only significant credit thus far seem to be the Black Listed script "Atari" which is home over at another big Hollywood's star's production company, Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way. That biopic of Atari creator Nolan Buschnell, who DiCaprio was attached to play, has surely been stunted by fellow tech-biopic "The Social Network."
With Clooney already noting that "Our Brand Is Crisis" will be Smokehouse's next project, we wouldn't expect to hear much from this for a while but a '60's-set project with promises of comedy and political intrigue is something we hope Clooney and company can move onto in the future.