Documentary may feature Martin, Pryor
Yukster icons such as Steve Martin, Richard Pryor and George Carlin will get the documentary treatment from filmmaker R.J. Cutler, who’s purchased the rights to Richard Zoglin’s just-published “Comedy at the Edge: How Stand-Up in the 1970s Changed America.”
He’ll produce the feature film version of “Comedy at the Edge” with Sony-based TV producer Sarah Timberman (“Kidnapped”).
Timberman saw galleys of Zoglin’s book (published by Bloomsbury) and brought it to Cutler’s attention several months ago. Duo decided to pursue the film rights together.
Cutler said he was “blown away” by the depth of reporting in Zoglin’s book. Zoglin is a senior editor at Time magazine.
“His combination of anecdotal storytelling and reporting and interviews with all of the subjects… just brings the whole era to life,” Cutler told Daily Variety.
While the film is in the very early planning stages, Cutler said Zoglin has access to several decades’ worth of archival footage as well as relationships with many of the key comics examined in the book. Cutler is also working on ways to make the film more than just a history lesson, though he wouldn’t get into specifics about whether he was planning a reunion of some sort to serve as a focal point for the pic.
“We’re talking about a lot of things that would involve many of the key figures, as well as this storehouse of extraordinary footage that exists,” Cutler said. “Most of these figures are still alive today and have amazing stories to tell.”
Like the book, the documentary will examine comics from Lenny Bruce to Jerry Seinfeld. It will also look at the way in which standup shaped pop culture as well as “the provocative questions the book poses about our culture today,” Timberman said.
Zoglin said the feature will help give comics of the era their due.
“Standup comedy has never gotten the attention it deserves as a cultural force and an American art form,” he said.
Zoglin and comedy writer Richard Gurman (“Married … With Children”) will help develop the film, though Cutler and Timberman will have creative control. Cutler hasn’t yet finalized whether he’ll also direct the pic.
Cutler, who won an Oscar for “The War Room,” is currently working on a documentary about Anna Wintour that’s expected to be ready in time for the fall festival circuit.
Cutler, via his Actual Reality banner, continues to work on several TV projects, including the upcoming season of FX’s “30 Days” and the yet-to-bow CBS reality show “America’s Favorite Dog.” His TLC skein “Flip That House” recently wrapped its 100th episode.