Fox catches Roach in overall pix deal

Helmer part of comic stockpiling at studio

Continuing to stockpile comic moviemakers, 20th Century Fox and Fox 2000 have closed an overall directing and producing deal with Jay Roach and his Everyman Pictures label.

Roach, who directed “Meet the Parents” and the first two “Austin Powers” installments, will develop and direct films for Fox and its sister shingle, Fox 2000.

None of the four features Roach has directed was for the studio, but he said he liked the persistence with which Fox chairman Tom Rothman, 20th Century Fox and Fox 2000 prexies Hutch Parker and Elizabeth Gabler and Fox 2000 exec veep Carla Hacken attempted to lure him into the Fox fold.

That you could practically throw a rock from the Fox lot and hit Roach’s house didn’t hurt, either. In fact, the first project Roach has set at the studio is an untitled pitch he’ll write with “Saturday Night Live” scribe Adam McKay, inspired by Roach’s nearby idyllic neighborhood.

The comedy pits the neighborhood’s most relentless socializer against a privacy-craving newcomer.

Campus life

“I loved campus life so much that when I was at USC, I taught there seven years just because I didn’t want to leave, and the Fox lot feels a bit that way,” Roach said.

“I have this visualization of getting on my bike and pedaling over to this great little think tank, hanging out with funny, smart people,” he said. “We talked to several studios about making a deal, but when pressed, it was clear most weren’t in the mood to make these kinds of deals.

“Starting with Tom stepping up last summer, Fox was eager, and we wanted to honor their enthusiasm. The fact that they’re known for making smart comedies and know how to sell them made it easier,” he said.

Fox funnymen

Fox is lining its lot with yucksters. Among those with an affinity for the funny bone who are in term deals are the Conundrum troika of Peter and Bobby Farrelly and Bradley Thomas, who produced the upcoming “Say It Isn’t So” and are about to start the Farrelly-directed “Shallow Hal.” Also there are Harold Ramis and Trevor Albert’s Ocean Pictures, which, with lot fixture Gil Netter, is producing “Rule Number 3,” with Ramis directing; Mike Judge (“King of the Hill”), who’s developing several features as well as with the Fox pilot “Monsignor Martinez,” which Judge co-created and likely will direct; and John Davis, who produced “Dr. Dolittle 2.”

Ready to move in

Roach will take residence on the lot momentarily, though Fox will have to wait in line to get him behind the camera. He’s expected to next direct either the George Wing-scripted Columbia comedy “Fifty First Kisses” or the third “Austin Powers” installment, which Myers and Michael McCullers are writing at New Line.

He’s also aligned with “Meet the Fockers,” the “Meet the Parents” sequel being written by Jim Herzfeld, and still is developing an adaptation of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” at Disney and “Spy vs. Spy” at Warner Bros.

Roach, whose deal was brokered by ICM and Gold-Miller, also is aligned with the Marc Hyman-scripted Fox comedy “God of Cookery.”

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