Filmmaker to direct Participant pic

Ben Stiller has been set by Participant Media to direct “Help Me Spread Goodness,” a drama with comic overtones.

Script, about a Chicago banker who gets swindled in a Nigerian Internet scam, was written by Mark Friedman and developed by Participant Media exec veep Jonathan King and prexy Ricky Strauss before they took it to Stiller.

Stiller will produce with Red Hour partner Stuart Kornfeld and Jeremy Kramer.

While the project is meant to be entertaining, it sheds light on current issues in Nigeria and other African countries, fitting the Participant Media mandate to make films that compel social change.

Timing of when Stiller helms the film depends on the progress of “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” the Aaron Sorkin-scripted drama that Stiller took over after Steven Spielberg exited as director.

Stiller last directed “Tropic Thunder,” and is next expected to reprise his role in the Paul Weitz-directed “Little Fockers” for Universal. He next stars in the Shawn Levy-directed “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” which Fox releases May 22.

Participant Media’s next release will be the Steven Soderbergh-directed Matt Damon starrer “The Informant,” which Warner Bros opens Oct. 9.

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