Biopic chronicles Mexican comedian-actor

Alejandro Gomez Monteverde will co-write and direct “Cantinflas,” a biopic about the comedian and actor who helped usher in a golden era of Mexican filmmaking in the ’40s and ’50s.

NBC co-chairman Ben Silverman will serve as an exec producer on the feature film with Monteverde and TV producer Jay Weisleder producing. Monteverde, whose drama “Bella” won the People’s Choice Award at the 2006 Toronto Intl. Film Festival, will co-write the script with Jose Portillo.

Despite his debut to American audiences in “Around the World in 80 Days” (1956), Cantinflas is not well known in the English-speaking world.

After pitching the idea to Silverman, Weisleder told the reluctant exec to ask any Latino about Cantinflas. “The moment he did that he called me from a restaurant and said ‘I got 10 people following me. Everybody knows who he is. We gotta do this,’ ” Weisleder said.

As the founder and former owner of Reveille, Silverman remains attached as an exec producer on several Reveille features projects, which include the Kurt Cobain biopic at Universal and “Staked Plains” at Focus.

Weisleder worked with Silverman at Reveille and has several television projects in development, including the comedy “My Problems With Women,” exec produced by Justin Timberlake. Monteverde and Weisleder secured the rights with the late actor’s son, Mario Moreno Ivanova, who will serve as an associate producer on the project.

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