Fox hoping ‘Underdogs’ is gym dandy

Vaughn, Taylor in talks to join cast

Ben Stiller will star in and produce the comedy “Underdogs” for 20th Century Fox. Commercials helmer Rawson Thurber wrote and will make his directorial debut with the pic.

Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Stiller’s wife, Christine Taylor, are in negotiations to star in the film, which concerns a small gym threatened with demise unless it can defeat a behemoth fitness center in a dodgeball competition.

Thurber, who was just signed by the William Morris Agency, is best known as the creator of the Reebok spots featuring Terry Tate, a fictional 315-pound former football player and office linebacker who tackles anyone guilty of bad office etiquette.

Thurber created the Tate character in a digital short he shot in 2000 after earning an MFA in the Peter Stark Program at USC. His five-minute short, “Terry Tate, Office Linebacker,” also screened in the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.

The filmmaker partnered with Doug Liman’s Hypnotic to pitch the Tate concept to Reebok.

Producing “Underdogs” are Stiller and his Red Hour Films production head Stuart Cornfeld.

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