NEW YORK — Segueing from the Tony Awards triumph Sunday of his Broadway baby “Hairspray,” John Waters will direct “A Dirty Shame” for This is That and Killer Films. Johnny Knoxville, Selma Blair and Paul Giamatti are attached to star.
Scripted by Waters, the comedy is described as “one family’s cosmic descent into sexual dementia.”
No actress has yet been cast in the leading role of a blue-collar convenience store owner-turned-sex addict, suffering from a concussion and uncontrollable sexual urges. The filmmakers are considering casting an unknown.
“I wish Meryl Streep would do it but I don’t think she would,” Waters told Daily Variety. “It has to be somebody real, who looks like they could belong in a convenience store, and in Hollywood these days, women in their forties who look real are hard to find.”
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“It’s a sex education film that asks the question, ‘Can tolerance go too far?’,” he continued. “It’s also based on a really true fact, and I’ve of course exaggerated it. But there are a tiny percentage of concussion sufferers who have a carnal lust they cannot control. Of course in this film, they take over a whole neighborhood.”
The project reteams This is That chief Ted Hope and Killer Films topper Christine Vachon as producers for the first time since Todd Solondz’s “Storytelling,” which also featured Blair and Giamatti and was produced by Hope during his tenure at Good Machine.
Danny, Jack and Joe Fisher of City Lights Pictures will exec produce with Michael Almog; City Lights production head Bob Jason will co-produce. Shooting is expected to start in the fall in Baltimore.
The announcement comes on the heels of Sunday’s Tony ceremony, where “Hairspray,” the Broadway show adapted from Waters’ 1988 feature, scored eight awards including best musical.
“The amazing thing about ‘Hairspray’ winning everything Sunday was that it showed how John Waters can reinvent himself in new and invigorating ways,” Vachon said. ” ‘A Dirty Shame’ represents yet another reinvention and, in some ways, a return to the dangerous cinema of his roots.”
“From the very beginning, when John showed up to pitch the project to us wearing his Let’s Go Sexin’ pin, I was in hysterics,” Hope added. “The script is completely outrageous. It’s a cunnilingus comedy for the whole family, which might be just what these times need.”
Knoxville starred in, produced and wrote “Jackass: The Movie.” Blair’s credits include “Legally Blonde” and “Cruel Intentions.” Giamatti is shooting John Woo’s “Paycheck” and will next be seen in Sundance award-winner “American Splendor.”
Formed out of Good Machine and headed by Hope, Anne Carey, Anthony Bregman and Diana Victor, New York-based This is That produced “American Splendor” and is in post on Michel Gondry’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” with Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, Tod Williams’ “Door in the Floor” and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “21 Grams,” starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts.Killer is run by Vachon, Pamela Koffler and Katie Roumel. The Gotham stable has Robert Altman’s dance pic “The Company” going out Dec. 25 via Sony Classics, and is in post on Michael Mayer’s “A Home at the End of the World,” starring Colin Farrell, which Warners will release domestically.
Waters is represented by CAA.