Motion Picture Showman of the Year
On an October afternoon on the Sony lot, Judd Apatow sat alongside actor John C. Reilly and helmer Jake Kasdan, showing footage of the musician biopic parody they’d made together, “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.”A studio staffer came and whispered in Reilly’s ear — he had to get back to the set of “Step Brothers.” Lunch break over. “Wait a second, he can stay a few more minutes,” Apatow joked. “I’m the producer of ‘Step Brothers.’ Who’s going to get mad? Me at me?” Indeed, the sun barely ever sets on the Apatow empire these days. The multihyphenate has no fewer than five projects in production and numerous others in myriad phases of development, plus he saw three pics released last year. He also fostered a stable of young talent including Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and Michael Cera. The flurry of activity for Apatow is the fruit of B.O. success combined with pent-up creativity. After the cancellation of his critically acclaimed but ratings-challenged TV comedies “Freaks and Geeks” and “Undeclared” at the turn of the decade, Apatow kept himself busy. “During that time, we kept rewriting all the scripts we liked,” he told Variety last year. “As a result of a few movies doing well, it’s allowed us to make some of these other movies.” In 2005, the Apatow-penned/ helmed “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” took in more than $177 million at the global box office and opened the door to the feature-laughs realm for the 40-year-old filmmaker. Last spring, his relationship comedy, “Knocked Up,” not only raked in more than $219 million worldwide, it generated serious kudos attention for Apatow’s script (earning a WGA nom). “Superbad,” which Apatow produced, followed quickly in late summer, collecting more than $170 million globally and praise for ushering in a new era for teen comedies. And “Walk Hard,” while yielding disappointing B.O. results, netted Golden Globes noms for Reilly and original song.