'Greenberg' duo in talks for Fox's adaptation of children's book
Filmmaker Noah Baumbach and Ben Stiller are mulling whether to get into the penguin business. Baumbach is in talks to direct Stiller in 20th Century Fox’s “Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” based on the beloved 1938 children’s book. Stiller also is in talks at this point; no deal has been made. John Davis is producing through his Davis Entertainment production company. “Mr. Popper” would mark the first kiddie pic Baumbach has directed. The filmmaker did, however, co-write the screenplay for Wes Anderon’s family toon “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” which Fox released last year. “Mr. Popper” would pair Stiller and Baumbach for the second time; they are currently in theaters with Focus Features’ “Greenberg,” which Baumbach directed and Stiller toplines. Fox acquired screen rights to “Mr. Popper” a year ago, setting scribes Sean Anders and John Morris to write the adapted screenplay. “Mr. Popper” is the tale of a house painter whose dreams of Arctic exploration prompt him to write letters to real explorers. One of them sends him a penguin, which he keeps in an icebox. Soon, Mr. Popper receives a female penguin from a zoo and before he knows it, he has a litter of 12 beaked birds. When the penguins start to eat him out of house and home, Mr. Popper forms Popper’s Performing Penguins, a stage act that goes on tour and causes mayhem at every stop. The book, written by Richard and Florence Atwater, won the 1939 Newbery Award and has been taught in many elementary school classrooms. Stiller is next in theaters in December with Universal’s “Little Fockers.” Baumbach is repped by UTA; Stiller, by WME.