New Line sold on Ferrell

Studio makes preemptive buy of 'Salesman' pitch

New Line has taken its elf and turned him into “The Salesman.”

Studio has made a preemptive buy of a pitch by “The Simpsons” vet Dana Gould to be tailored as a vehicle for Will Ferrell. The “Elf” star will play a slacker stereo salesman who is an inveterate liar.

The sale occurs just as the white-hot “Saturday Night Live” transplant is being courted to star alongside Nicole Kidman in “Bewitched.” He has met with Kidman and likely will play hapless hubby Darren Stevens, the ad exec who falls in love with the spell-casting witch whose wacky family turns his life upside-down. Nora Ephron is looking to direct the film for Red Wagon partners Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher.

Ferrell is fast becoming a preeminent portrayer of lovable losers. In “The Salesman,” his compulsive lying leaves him living with his parents and engaged to two women because he can’t bear to disappoint either one. As the lies catch up to him, the salesman meets a no-nonsense girl who gets him to change his ways.

Bob Cooper’s Landscape Entertainment is producing along with Paul A. Kaufman, who hatched the project.

Ferrell deal caps a good week of casting for arrested adolescent comedies at New Line.

McConaughey pic set

The studio just made a deal with Matthew McConaughey to play an over-the-hill narc in comedy “Arrested Development,” a script discovered by his j.k. livin exec Mark Gustawes.

And Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn reportedly are circling “The Wedding Crashers.”

Cooper’s Landscape has a first-look deal with New Line, and he has made comic vehicles a priority.

Cooper said he took “The Salesman” right to Ferrell, thinking thesp’s likability factor made him ideal for the part.

“Will brings a charm that is absolutely necessary in a film about a guy who lies to everybody,” Cooper said.

Feature player

Since transitioning from “SNL” to feature roles with “Old School,” Ferrell has completed “Elf” and the DreamWorks comedy “Anchor Man: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.”

The UTA/Mosaic-repped thesp is starring in Woody Allen’s untitled Fox Searchlight comedy, which he’ll follow with the Stratus-financed drama “Winter Passing” and then hopes to play the lead in a screen adaptation of “A Confederacy of Dunces.”

He also is aligned with the Imagine/Universal animated feature “Curious George,” voicing the Man in the Yellow Hat who cares for the mischievous title monkey.

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