By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist October 7, 2011 at 3:58AM
Billy Ray Is Now The Third Writer Hired For 'The Thin Man'
Well, why not? With a penchant for playing writers on film, Johnny Depp has already portrayed Hunter S. Thompson, J.M. Barrie and John Wilmot on the big screen (and played a novelist in "Secret Window"), and it looks like he may be adding another famous figure to list.
THR reports that Depp's Infinitum Nihil shingle is teaming up with Illumination Entertainment for a biopic on none other than one of the biggest children's writers of all time, Dr. Seuss (or as the IRS knows him as, Theodor Geisel). Pretty much everyone born in the last forty years or so grew up with man's books that included "Cat In The Hat," "Horton Hears A Who," "The Lorax," "Green Eggs And Ham," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" and more. And while many of his works have been adapted for TV and the big screen, a movie about the man himself hasn't ever happened -- until now. Keith Bunin ("In Treatment," Michel Gondry's developing "The Return Of The Ice Kids") has been hired on to write the script to tell the story of Geisel's extraordinary life.
While is story isn't filled with a wide array of ladies, struggles with addiction or anything like that, it's really the tale of a man who revolutionized books for children making them educational, original and highly entertaining in one fell swoop. "The Cat In The Hat" was famously created when the director of the education division at Houghton Mifflin gave Geisel a list of 348 words he thought were important for first graders to know. He challenged the author to make a book with only those words, and Geisel cut it down to 250 and in nine months handed over "The Cat In The Hat" (with 14 words to spare). Geisel was also very active in efforts during WWII, first drawing editorial cartoons and later working directly in the war effort for Treasury Department, the War Production Board and eventually the Army's Animation Department. If there was any dark shadow on his life, it would be an affair he had that led to his wife's suicide.
This is all very early days and Depp is not committed to star just yet. As per usual, he'll probably wait to see a script first and also, while this won't be some kind of CGI 3D IMAX visual mindfuck (thank god), producers are keeping the door open for a smaller use of animation or other effects. And while normally we'd roll our eyes at this, it's actually pretty appropriate for a Seuss biopic considering the characters he created were half the fun. But Depp has a busy dance card as it is, filming "Dark Shadows," stumping for "The Rum Diary" and then shooting "The Lone Ranger" early next year. So this project will be competing with the handful of others he has kicking around in development including "The Thin Man."
Last we heard was at the end of the summer when David Koepp was brought on to write the script but apparently, things didn't work out between the writer and film's director Rob Marshall. Instead, THR reports that the suddenly hot Billy Ray is now on board to write the movie, making him the third pen on the project (Jerry Stahl was the first person hired in the spring) in the last six months. Hmm.
Ray recently sold a pitch with J.J. Abrams to Paramount for some mystery movie; he's got that Peter Pan movie with Channing Tatum brewing; a remake of "The Secret In Their Eyes" developing and more. It's been a good year for Ray, but we'll have to see if he can deliver what Marshall wants.
So lot's on the horizon for Depp, but you can see him next in "The Rum Diary" opening on October 28th.