Dan Mazer, the longtime Sacha Baron Cohen collaborator who co-wrote and produced “Borat,” has made a deal with Universal Pictures to write and direct an original comedy.
Judd Apatow will produce the untitled film and Mazer will make his feature directorial debut.
Alliance is Mazer’s second with U, as he’s expected to work with Cohen on “Bruno,” a feature to which Universal acquired distribution rights in an auction. Cohen will topline that film, playing a gay fashion reporter character that, like Borat, was first seen on “Da Ali G Show.”
Mazer, a longtime writer and producer of that show as well as the series “Man Bites Dog,” had an idea for an original scripted feature comedy and brought it to Apatow.
Apatow sparked to the concept and took it to Universal, where he has an overall deal and is following his hit “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” with the recently wrapped laffer “Knocked Up.”
“I had this idea for a broad, out-there comedy. I wanted a partner to guide me through it and felt that most of the funniest films I’d seen in the past two or three years had Judd’s name attached to them,” Mazer said. “He has made this all incredibly painless.”
Mazer will begin writing after he completes a rewrite on the Fox and Hyde Park comedy “New Year’s Steve.” While he was surprised by the success of “Borat,” Mazer isn’t shocked that Cohen has been singled out by critics groups for acting accolades.
“It’s an absolutely incredible thing, that a man who dangles his testicles in another man’s face can be looked at for an Oscar nomination in the same film,” Mazer said. “But Sacha’s ability to straddle that line is testament to his ability to range from sophisticated to puerile.”
Though he remains in London, Mazer is also enjoying the spoils of a hit film, and the “Borat” cachet has given him the chance to take a shot at directing.
“Things that are genuinely funny are pretty rare in this world, and even rarer in Hollywood,” Mazer said. “For whatever reason, we seem to have struck a nerve by making something that was truly funny. Having produced and co-written what is turning out to be a $200 million comedy has brought good fortune.”
Mazer and Apatow are repped by UTA.