Giamatti to hone Claus at Warners

Thesp joins Vaughn in Dobkin's X-mas laffer

Paul Giamatti will star alongside Vince Vaughn and play Santa in helmer David Dobkin’s untitled holiday romp for Warner Bros.

Comedy project, which reunites the “Wedding Crashers” team of Dobkin and Vaughn, was initially called “Fred Claus” (Daily Variety, Feb. 27), but that title has been shelved because of a potential rights issue. Dobkin is producing with Jessie Nelson.

Dan Fogelman penned the script, based on an original story by Nelson. Christmas tale revolves around Santa’s black-sheep brother (Vaughn), who returns home to the North Pole after a long absence.

Giamatti was nominated for an Oscar for his supporting role last year in Universal’s “Cinderella Man.” He stars in Warners’ upcoming “Lady in the Water,” from writer-director M. Night Shyamalan, and voices one of the characters in Warners’ animated summer pic “The Ant Bully.”

Vaughn next stars opposite Jennifer Aniston in Universal comedy “The Break-Up.” Vaughn previously worked with Dobkin on “Clay Pigeons.”

Talks of reteaming Dobkin and Vaughn for the Warners holiday comedy began in late February after Dobkin divorced himself from Universal’s Adam Sandler-Kevin James comedy “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.”