The Pee-wee Herman revival is extending all the way to the multiplex.
Judd Apatow is developing an untitled Pee-wee Herman feature for Universal that Paul Reubens is writing with thesp-scribe Paul Rust (“Inglourious Basterds,” “I Love You, Beth Cooper”). Apatow will produce through his Apatow Prods. banner, though he will not helm the project. Pic is described as featuring the iconic geek — known for his love of toys and nerdy catchphrases like “I know you are, but what am I?” — in a road pic built around “a gigantic adventure.”
“Let’s face it, the world needs more Pee-wee Herman,” Apatow told Daily Variety. “I am so excited to be working with Paul Reubens — who is an extraordinary and ground-breaking actor and writer. It’s so great to watch him return with such relevance.”
The partnership came about after Apatow saw Reubens’ recent “Pee-wee Herman Show” revival at the Nokia Theater, where it played to packed houses in January and February. The show is bound for a 10-week stint on Broadway at the Stephen Sondheim Theater starting Oct. 26.
Reubens said he was incredibly gratified by Apatow’s interest in collaborating on a pic.
“There is no one like Judd in our business — he loves comedy with emotion and heart, and he sees what we do as art,” Reubens said. “I can’t believe I’m getting this opportunity to be working with him.”
During the past year, Reubens has successfully resurrected the character he first introduced in L.A.’s theater and club scene in the late 1970s and early ’80s, when he was a member of the Groundlings comedy troupe.
After an HBO spesh and numerous appearances as Pee-wee Herman on “Late Night with David Letterman,” Reubens’ scored at the B.O. in 1985 with the Warner Bros. pic “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” helmed by Tim Burton in his feature directing debut. The success of the pic led Reubens to land the CBS Saturday morning show “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” which ran from 1986-90.
Reubens’ career ascent came to a sudden halt in 1991 when he was arrested for indecent exposure in Florida.
Amid the fallout from the incident, Reubens focused on acting gigs outside of his Herman persona. He has said that the Pee-wee revival was spurred by the fact that “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” and the 1985 pic remain popular among adults and kids born long after the first wave of Pee-wee Herman.
The ardor for all things Pee-wee was on display last Saturday during the Los Angeles Film Fest screening of “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” which played to a sold-out crowd of all ages at the Orpheum Theater. Reubens spent more than an hour fielding questions and expressions of devotion from squealing fans.
Reubens is repped by CAA and manager Kelly Bush of Vie Entertainment. Apatow is repped by UTA.