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Zach Galifianakis May Lead 'Confederacy Of Dunces' For 'Muppets' Director James Bobin

by The Playlist
May 22, 2012 11:20 PM
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When you talk dream projects that you wish could become resurrected -- something we do for shits and giggles from time to time -- very high on our list is John Kennedy Toole's posthumously-published, picaresque novel "A Confederacy of Dunces" (published in 1980, eleven years after the author's suicide at the age of 32). Steven Soderbergh and Scott Kramer (producer for "The Limey") wrote a screenplay in the late '90s (we still have a copy lying around somewhere) and in the early aughts, they attached David Gordon Green to direct circa "Undertow," and names like Will Ferrell, Mos Def, and Drew Barrymore circulated for the lead roles (Barrymore would have co-produced).

But as Green told MTV in 2004, "There were too many cooks involved, too many producers [and] the egos of a lot of people." It didn't help that Soderbergh and producer Scott Rudin got involved in a nasty lawsuit over the project. The type of lawsuit that leaves dream projects like this in litigation purgatory.

But whatever limbo hell the production was caught in seems to be over. Vulture is reporting that "Flight of the Conchords" co-creator and "The Muppets" filmmaker James Bobin is in negotiations to bring the project to the big screen at long last.  Attached to star as the colorful, hyper-erudite, but woefully slothful Ignatius J. Reilly is apparently none other than  Zach Galifianakis, a rather perfect choice. And it seems that  Rudin and Paramount Pictures, the original producer and studio, are still stewarding the adaptation..

Set in New Orleans in the early 1960s, "A Confederacy of Dunces" centers on the sheltered, perpetually indignant 30-something manchild Ignatius who lives at home with his mom. In his quest for work -- a hard day's labor being something he's only ever read about -- Ignatius comes across an assortment of eccentric characters in the French Quarter. Suffice to say it's one of this writer's favorite novels, wry and funny as hell, though it's not the easiest book in the world to adapt either.

Phil Johnston, who co-wrote Alexander Payne’s upcoming "Nebraska" and penned "Cedar Rapids" is evidently being pegged to write the script. This isn't the only would-be iteration of the novel either. Harold Ramis tried to make the film in the 1980s with John Belushi, but he overdosed fatefully just days before a studio meeting. Other portly comedians circled the project over the years including John Candy and Chris Farley, but none of these projects came to pass.

Our only concern: Paramount Picture is becoming the house that makes films like "G.I Joe" and "Mission Impossible" films, but we suppose they are still the house that makes modestly budgeted Jason Reitman films, so that's at least something. Fingers crossed.

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  • Zoe Wiseman | June 10, 2012 9:57 PMReply

    Casting Zach as Ignatius is a crime against taste and decency. This is a serious book. Sure, it's funny, but Ignatius isn't some frat boy party dude. He is Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a shut-in living with his mother. The casting director should be punished. I already hate the movie based upon my favorite book of all time. They obviously don't get it.

  • PETE | May 23, 2012 3:40 PMReply

    Yes! I think Galifianakis might be a better choice than even Will Ferrell in a fat suit. Either way, I hope they bring back Mos Def. That was perfect casting. Also, wasn't Ellen Barkin rumored for the role of Lana Lee? Also perfect. I say Nick Offerman for Mancuso.

  • Arch | May 24, 2012 5:33 AM

    I don't want to see this project happening anytime soon, but honestly for a virtual casting these would be great (I'm not a Galifianakis fan... ironically that IS why I think he would be obnoxious enough as Ignatius).

  • Qu4terman42 | May 23, 2012 8:28 AMReply

    Yessssss. Fucking finally

  • Arch | May 23, 2012 3:18 AMReply

    Confederacy is the your ultimate anti Jason Reitman, Lena Dunham et al. manifesto. Pointing at pretentious pricks, patronizing upper-class and everything. Most of all it has claws and teeth which none of the above has. You want a good team behind it? get the guys from Mad men ... just check out Mrs Levy and Betty (ex)Draper you'll see it makes sense.

  • Arch | May 23, 2012 4:40 AM

    *belch* would have been an awesomer reaction.

  • hmm | May 23, 2012 4:11 AM


  • Stephen B | May 23, 2012 12:04 AMReply

    Not sure Bobin's style would jibe with the material. I was interested in Green doing it as his take seemed to be some combination of Ramis and Altman--plus the guy up and moved there so he could know the city as well as Toole did. Still not convinced a film adaptation is a good idea. Ignatius is the kind of character no actor should want to play, as they can't possibly live up to Toole's depiction.

  • Stephen B | May 23, 2012 12:52 PM

    I guess what I mean to say is that his work thus far has been straight forward comedies, and something like Dunces requires a more deft hand when it comes to the tone. I'm not saying he *can't* do it, but his past works (all of which I've enjoyed) don't fill me with confidence. Then again, I'm not even sure a master filmmaker could do the book justice.

  • Christopher Jason Bell | May 23, 2012 1:03 AM

    Zach is a good choice, and while I too am skeptical about Bobin -- he hasn't done much to establish any sort of "style." How much say did he have for Ali G or Muppets? Likely little, especially for the latter. Apparently he had a good hand in 'Flight,' and if that's the case, we're really basing it on a single project. It could go either way, hard to say.

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