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Cannes: Tom Arnold Boards Indie Comedy ‘Landline’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Tom Arnold, Nick Searcy (“Justified”), Jim O’Heir (“Parks and Recreation”), Betsy Brandt (“Breaking Bad”), James DuMont (“Trumbo”), Louis Lombardi (“24”), Jay Washington (“Chi-Raq”) and entertainment journalist Bruce Fretts are coming aboard writer-director-star Matthew Aaron’s indie comedy “Landline.”

The feature follows PR exec Ted Gout (Aaron) who, after becoming stressed out over work, marriage and social media, gives up his cell phone and goes “off the grid” in favor of more manageable ’90s technology. Each day Gout grows a little bit crazier, while his wife tries to hold their marriage together.

Arnold and O’Heir play Gout’s dad and uncle, respectively. DuMont and Lombardi’s characters introduce him to two widely divergent technological paths. Brandt plays Gout’s boss, Washington plays his best friend, Fretts (in a film acting debut) plays his cable guy cousin and Searcy plays the detective who investigates him for a crime he may or may not have committed.

“It’s about the pros and cons of how our lives have been overrun by technology, where everything’s on Snapchat and Instagram, done very much in the way Albert Brooks does his films,” Aaron says.

“Landline” is set to begin principal photography on June 6, shooting entirely on location in Chicago. Additional cast will be added over the next few weeks.

The independently financed “Landline” is produced by Aaron, Anthony Guiliano, Leonard Cannata, Patrick Tobias and Steve Weirich.

This is the third feature for Chicago-based comedian Aaron, host of the web radio series “The Matthew Aaron Show.” His two previous films as writer, director and star — the relationship comedy “Bromance” and the divorce dramedy “The Way We Talk” — are currently on the festival circuit. He and Joe Carnahan recently exec produced the talk show pilot “Dine and Dash” featuring Common, Lucy Lawless, Kate Walsh and Dermot Mulroney.

Aaron met most of the acclaimed cast members on his radio talk show. “I told Betsy [Brandt] and all of these people, ‘I want to be the Ed Burns of Chicago.’ They really took to that and loved the script,” he says. The producers are now seeking domestic and international distribution for “Landline.”

Brandt stars in “Life in Pieces,” which was just renewed for a second season.

Arnold is repped by ICM, MGMT Entertainment and Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman. O’Heir is repped by Bensky Entertainment. Brandt is repped by TalentWorks and Patty Woo Management. Searcy is repped by APA and Haven Entertainment. DuMont is repped by Buffalo 8 Management. Washington is repped by Artistic Talent.

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