'Talladega' stars reteam for McKay laffer

Columbia Pictures has revved up another star vehicle for Will Ferrell and his “Talladega Nights” co-star John C. Reilly.

Studio made a preemptive deal for “Step Brothers,” a comedy Adam McKay will direct from a script he’ll write with Ferrell. Judd Apatow and Jimmy Miller will produce.

Ferrell and Reilly will play coddled guys who live with their respective single parents. Their folks fall in love and marry, making the guys stepbrothers.

Deal structure is similar to that for “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” which was also sold on the basis of a pitch. (Pic opens today.) Columbia, which got first crack at “Step Brothers” because the principals had a good experience making the NASCAR comedy, took the project off the table before any other studio heard it. Studio not only paid a premium for the script, it agreed to salaries for Ferrell, Reilly and McKay.

Also factored in is a projected summer 2007 start date and a tentative budget that will be slightly less than that for “Talladega Nights,” which required the NASCAR setting.

“Step Brothers” will be the third script for Ferrell and McKay, who before “Talladega” wrote “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.” They began collaborating on “Saturday Night Live,” where McKay was head writer.

Ferrell, who’ll next be seen in the Marc Forster-directed “Stranger Than Fiction,” recently completed the figure skating comedy “Blades of Glory” with Jon Heder and Will Arnett. Reilly is starring in Mike White’s directing debut “Year of the Dog” and “Quebec,” the feature directing debut of “Pursuit of Happyness” scribe Steve Conrad.

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