Showalter makes directing debut; film starts lensing in March

NEW YORK — IFC Entertainment will finance and release “The Baxter,” a contemporary romantic comedy in the classic screwball vein written and directed by Michael Showalter, who also stars alongside Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Williams and Justin Theroux.

IFC Prods. will team with Plum Pictures on the project; Galt Neiderhoffer, Daniela Taplin, Regan Silber and Celine Rattray of Plum will produce. North American distribution will be through IFC Films, with Pandora handling foreign sales.

A quirky homage to the 1950s comedies of Howard Hawks, the film chronicles the anxiety-ridden two weeks leading to the marriage of Elliot Sherman (Showalter), who is the quintessential “Baxter” — the nice guy who never gets the girl.

Banks (“Seabiscuit”) plays his bride-to-be, with Theroux (“Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle”) as a rival suitor and Williams (“The Station Agent”) as an eccentric temp at Elliot’s accounting firm who dispenses romantic advice.

“We really like the idea of getting behind a romantic comedy with a fresh take from a new generation of actors as well as a new filmmaker,” said IFC Films senior VP of production Caroline Kaplan.

Film starts shooting in March and marks the directing debut of Showalter, who co-wrote, co-produced and starred in Sundance 2001 hit “Wet Hot American Summer.” He was an original cast member of and writer for sketch show “The State,” which ran for four seasons on MTV.

Showalter is represented by Innovative and Principato-Young.

Gotham-based independent banner Plum also goes into production this month on “Lonesome Jim,” a comedy directed by Steve Buscemi and starring Casey Affleck and Liv Tyler.

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