Comedy Impact Report 2011: Bigscreen Bigshots

Paul Feig created “Freaks and Geeks,” the acclaimed but short-lived TV series that launched a dozen careers, and then went on to build a strong resume behind the camera, directing episodes of “Arrested Development,” “The Office” and “Mad Men.” Somehow, though, blockbuster-level success eluded Feig until he directed this year’s rule-breaking comedy, “Bridesmaids,” a movie that grossed $286 million, including, unlike many Hollywood comedies, a healthy take overseas. It became the biggest Judd Apatow production ever, not to mention the highest-grossing female comedy in history.

So what does Feig make of his newfound popularity? “It’s everything you always kind of hope for and want but, in a weird way, almost never think will happen,” the director says. “At the end of the day, you just make stuff you think people will like.” For a follow-up, Feig is writing “Dumb Jock,” a romantic-comedy he hopes will pair “Bridesmaids” star Melissa McCarthy with Jon Hamm. “Hopefully, it’s funny, but what I like is that there’s a strong reality to it, too,” Feig says. “That’s why I think people liked ‘Bridesmaids.’ Yes, you had the comic set pieces, but if you didn’t have this really relatable woman in the middle of it, it wouldn’t have worked.”

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