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Respect for Rodney

Fox TV, Permut ready Dangerfield biopic

Rodney Dangerfield is getting some respect from Fox Television Studios and David Permut Presentations.

Producer and studio have snapped up the rights to the comic’s forthcoming tell-all bio with an eye on making a telepic based on the tome. “It’s Not Easy Being Me: A Lifetime of No Respect but Plenty of Sex and Drugs” will be published by HarperCollins in May.

“I’m excited that Fox (TV Studios) is making a movie on my life story — but I hope they do it soon,” Dangerfield said. “Remember that time and tide and hookers wait for no man. Anyway, I’ve just finished my first book…. Now I’m going to read another one!”

Permut and Dangerfield will exec produce the pic, with Permut Presentations VP Steve Longi co-producing. No writer or helmer is yet attached; project will be shopped to nets in the next few weeks.

“It’s a story about a young man who found an outlet in life to get him through a very turbulent childhood,” Permut told Daily Variety. “If it weren’t for comedy, Rodney would have been dead a long time ago.”

Dangerfield didn’t actually get his start in comedy until he was 40. That midlife transformation, along with his rough childhood, should provide fodder for a compelling biopic, said David Madden, exec veepee of movies and minis for Fox Television Studios.

“It’s clear that Dangerfield’s ‘no respect’ catchphrase is more than just a glib line,” Madden said. “He struggled through a lot of menial jobs and had a tortured personal life. It’s only when he got to an age when most people think about platforming to retirement that he found his path.”

Permut’s relationship with Dangerfield stretches back more than a decade. Producer has spent several years filming Dangerfield as part of a planned documentary dubbed “Rodney Exposed.”

Doc will feature footage of Dangerfield’s marriage into a Mormon family, his attempt to be cloned and his recent brain surgery. It’s expected to bow in conjunction with the paperback release of Dangefield’s bio.

As for the Fox biopic, Permut said the project should, like Dangerfield’s book, include “a lot of humor but also a lot of pain.”

“If we serve his book well, the movie will take you from one emotional extreme to the other,” he said.

Madden also hopes to capture Dangerfield’s “appeal as the common man. He doesn’t care what people think about him. He just says what he means.”

Permut Presentations’ upcoming feature slate includes U’s Sam Kinison biopic “Brother Sam,” from scribes Shari Springer Berman and Bob Pulcini (“American Splendor”) and helmer Tom Shadyac. Shingle is also working on “Blind-Sided,” with Rob Schneider attached to star.

Fox TV Studios, meanwhile, is readying Jamie Foxx starrer “Redemption” for FX; telepic is the first basic cable pic to premiere at Sundance. Studio is also working on “The Grid” for TNT/BBC and “Anonymous Rex” for Sci Fi.

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