Ferrell to star in 'Semi-Pro'

New Line’s turning “Semi-Pro,” greenlighting the Will Ferrell comedy set in the world of 1970s pro basketball. Jimmy Miller is producing.

New Line exec VP Kent Alterman will make his directorial debut on the project, in which Ferrell will portray Jackie Moon, the flamboyant owner-player-coach of the fictional Flint, Mich., Tropics in the final year of the American Basketball Assn.

Woody Harrelson, who broke out as a basketballer in 1992’s “White Men Can’t Jump,” is aboard to co-star.

Scot Armstrong (“Old School”) is penning the screenplay about a former benchwarmer from the NBA who returns to his ragtag team for a shot at redemption. “Semi-Pro” has been put on the fast track, with shooting expected to start early next year.

Armstrong first pitched the project to New Line four years ago, and Ferrell expressed interest in the project this summer while promoting “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.” Top execs at the mini-major greenlit “Semi-Pro” at their retreat earlier this week.

Alterman first bonded with Ferrell during the shoot for New Line’s “Elf,” which became the thesp’s breakthrough hit. After he directs the pic, Alterman will enter into a first-look deal with New Line.

“I’ve never met Will, but I’ve heard he’s pretty funny,” Alterman told Daily Variety.

Ferrell’s signed on with “Talladega” co-star John C. Reilly for “Step Brothers,” a comedy Adam McKay will direct from a script he’ll write with Ferrell; Miller’s producing with Judd Apatow. Ferrell will next be seen in the Marc Forster-directed “Stranger Than Fiction,” followed by figure skating comedy “Blades of Glory” with Jon Heder and Will Arnett.

Ferrell and Harrelson are repped by CAA.

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