Studio mainstay to star in untitled project

Sony mainstay Kevin James has been tapped to star in an untitled project for the studio.

Pic, about a physics teacher who moonlights as a martial arts fighter to save his school’s music program, could start production as soon as early 2011, Sony said.

James will also serve as co-producer on the film, through his shingle Hey Eddie Productions, with Todd Garner. Jeff Sussman will serve as exec producer, with scribe Allan Loeb in talks to pen the script.

Announcement comes after several hit partnerships between James and Sony, including “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” and this summer’s heady holdover comedy “Grown Ups,” which has grossed $160.7 million domestically. “Paul Blart” earned a surprising $146.3 million when it launched January 2009.

James will topline Sony’s “The Zookeeper,” which includes a voice cast led by Sylvester Stallone, Adam Sandler, Nick Nolte and Cher, set for release July 8.

He will next star alongside Vince Vaughn in Ron Howard’s “The Dilemma,” from Universal, launching Stateside Jan. 14.

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