From “Will & Grace” to “Martin & Lewis”: Emmy winner Sean Hayes will star as Jerry Lewis in the latest biopic from Storyline Entertainment.
Storyline’s Craig Zadan and Neil Meron have partnered with John Stamos and Columbia TriStar Domestic Television to exec produce “Martin & Lewis.”
Project, which follows the tumultuous 10-year partnership between Lewis and Dean Martin, will air next season on CBS.
“This is a story about friendship, about this amazing relationship between two guys who were so brilliant together but couldn’t be together because of their incompatibility as people,” Zadan said. “There are so many psychological and deep ramifications to this story — that’s why Neil and I were attracted to it. Like (Storyline’s ‘Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows’), this is not just another biopic.”
Zadan said he believes “Martin & Lewis” could serve as Hayes’ first breakout dramatic role. Thesp, who plays Jack on NBC’s hit laffer “Will & Grace,” recently finished filming a role opposite Katie Holmes in the feature “Pieces of April”; he’ll also star as the voice of the Ugly Duckling in Disney’s animated “Chicken Little.”
Drama calling card
“We believe in him as an actor,” Zadan said. “He’s in my opinion the greatest new young comedic actor out there. We know he’ll pull off comedy but also believe he’ll give it a great dramatic performance as well. It’s a great transition piece for him to do.”
As for Dino, the production team is looking for someone unknown to play the legendary Rat Packer opposite Hayes’ Lewis. Deana Martin, the entertainer’s daughter from his first marriage, and Ricci Martin, his son from wife No. 2, are on board as consultants.
Martin and Lewis first teamed up in 1946 in Atlantic City, and made 16 movies together, starting with “My Friend Irma,” and including features such as “At War With the Army.” The duo also brushed up their skills on TV’s “The Colgate Comedy Hour.” They broke up in 1956 after a sold-out performance at the Copacabana.
Stamos, who worked with Storyline on the co-production “The Beach Boys: An American Family,” first brought the “Martin & Lewis” project to Zadan and Meron’s attention. Under his St. Amos Prods. banner, Stamos had been looking to reteam with the duo and bought the rights to the book “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime (Especially Himself)” by Arthur Marx.
John Gray, who previously collaborated with the Storyline team on this season’s remake of “Brian’s Song,” wrote the screenplay to “Martin & Lewis” and will direct the project when it goes into production this summer. Project will wrap by August, in time for Hayes to return to “Will & Grace.”
New Eye piece
“Martin & Lewis” is also Storyline’s first project in quite some time for the Eye, where Bela Bajaria recently took over as senior vice president of movies and miniseries. Project is also being spearheaded by Col TriStar’s Helen Verno, Storyline’s Dave Mace and St. Amos’ Marc Alexander.
Mark Sennett is a co-exec producer. Storyline currently has a pilot in contention at ABC (“Veritas”) and is in rehearsals for the three-hour ABC/ “Wonderful World of Disney” production of “The Music Man,” starring Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth. Duo also wrapped principal photography on the Miramax musical “Chicago.”
Hayes, Zadan and Meron and Stamos are all repped by William Morris; Hayes is also managed by Gold/Miller’s Eric Gold. Gray is repped by Endeavor.