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Russell ready to laugh it up with WB, Miramax

Actors rush to ensemble comedy

In his first film since “Three Kings,” David O. Russell is moving quickly to mount a comedy on existentialism. He’s got Mark Wahlberg, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Jason Schwartzman, Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin and Catherine Deneuve lining up to join him.

Russell has aligned Miramax and Warner Bros. in a co-production scenario that is still coming together, and he’ll produce the film with Scott Rudin and Greg Goodman, the latter of whom line produced “Three Kings.”

“It’s an ensemble comedy centering around a married couple,” Russell said. “They are detectives who solve existential crises for people. It was an idea of mine that I wrote with Jeff Baena.”

Russell hopes to shoot in June in Los Angeles.

Pic’s working title is “I Love Huckabee’s,” employing the symbol of a heart for the word love. He would not explain the significance of Huckabee’s, but evidently the concept is a strong one, because Russell is flirting with that cast on a film whose budget is less than $20 million. “We will be trying to work out favored-nations deals,” Russell said. The film’s tone is closer to his Miramax film “Flirting With Disaster,” than it is to his WB film “Three Kings.”

The plan is for WB to take the creative lead and foreign territories, while Miramax handles domestic distribution. Those two studios recently tag teamed on Initial Entertainment Group drama “The Aviator,” the Martin Scorsese-directed Howard Hughes biopic that will star Leonardo DiCaprio. The studios teamed to put up a capped commitment of 40% of the “Aviator” budget, with WB distributing domestically and Miramax handling marketing. IEG put up 60% of the “Aviator” budget, retaining foreign turf.

Miramax and WB declined to comment.

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