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Film News Roundup: Jesse Eisenberg to Star in Indie Thriller ‘Wild Indian’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Jesse Eisenberg
REX/Shutterstock

In today’s film news roundup, Jesse Eisenberg is starring and exec producing “Wild Indian”; Jason Bateman is directing “Shut In”; “Saturday Night Live” veteran Paula Pell is honored; and the Palm Springs Film Festival sets its opening and closing films.

CASTING

Jesse Eisenberg is starring in and executive producing the independent thriller “Wild Indian,” Variety has learned exclusively.

“Wild Indian,” written and directed by Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr., also stars Michael Greyeyes, Chaske Spencer, Kate Bosworth and Scott Haze (“Venom”). The film, shooting in Oklahoma City, was developed as part of the Sundance Institute Writers and Directors Lab as well as Sundance Catalyst.

The story follows two Anishinaabe men who are inextricably bound together after covering up the savage murder of a schoolmate. After years of separation following wildly divergent paths, they must finally confront how their traumatic secret has irrevocably shaped their lives. Greyeyes plays a character who has left the reservation to become an accounting executive while Eisenberg plays his right-hand man and only ally in work and life.

The film is being produced by Blake Pickens and Thomas Mahoney. Executive producers are Joel Michaely, Niraj Bhatia, Eric Tavitian, Katy Bettner, Lesli Masoner, Dan McClung, Brent Ryan Green and 30West.

Eisenberg recently starred in “Zombieland: Double Tap.” Corbine is represented by WME.

DIRECTOR ATTACHMENT

Jason Bateman is in talks to direct and produce New Line’s thriller “Shut It.”

Bateman recently won the 2019 Emmy for Outstanding Directing for “Ozark,” in which he also stars. “Shut In” led this year’s BloodList, the annual industry list of the best unproduced, dark-genre screenplays. New Line acquired it earlier this year from first time screenwriter Melanie Toast.

The story is centered on a single mother is held captive by her violent ex. Her two small children are left alone in a dangerous situation and she must do everything to protect them and survive.

Bateman made his feature directorial debut in 2013’s “Bad Words,” in which he starred and produced. In addition to Bateman, “Shut It” producers are Dan Farah (Farah Films), Roy Lee (Vertigo), Dallas Sonnier (Cinestate) and Bateman’s partner Michael Costigan (Aggregate Films). Amanda Presmyk and Danielle Cox will executive produce for Cinestate, Andrew Farah will executive produce for Farah Films and Miri Yoon will executive produce for Vertigo.

Richard Brener, Daria Cercek, and Josh Mack will oversee the project for New Line.Bateman is repped by CAA, Lighthouse Management & Media, and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush & Kaller. The news was first reported by Deadline.

HONOR

“Saturday Night Live” veteran Paula Pell has been selected to receive the Writers Guild of America East’s Herb Sargent Award for Comedy Excellence.

She will be presented the honor at the 72nd annual Writers Guild Awards ceremony at New York’s Edison Ballroom on Feb. 1. Amy Poehler will make the presentation.

The Sargent Award is awarded to a writer who embodies the “spirit, commitment and comic genius” of Sargent, as well as his dedication to mentoring new writers. Sargent served as president of the WGA East for 14 years and was a writer/producer at “SNL” for more than 20 years. The Sargent Award has been presented to Judd Apatow, Tina Fey & Robert Carlock, Steve O’Donnell, Gary David Goldberg, Norman Stiles, Lorne Michaels and James L. Brooks.

“I am truly thrilled and honored to receive the WGA Herb Sargent Award for Comedy Excellence,” said Pell. “I heard many stories of Herb’s legendary work when I joined ‘SNL’ in 1953. I will proudly put this next to my lifetime achievement award from Clever Matron Magazine.”

Pell spent 20 years at “SNL,” where she created sketches for Debbie Downer, the Appalachian Emergency Room, The Spartan Cheerleaders and the Justin Timberlake sketches Omeletteville, Homelessville, and Liquorville. She’s in production on the Quibi series, “The Mapleworth Murders,” as a murder-mystery writer who solves homicides in her small town.

Netflix has acquired Pell’s upcoming feature comedy, “Hometown,” which will star Natasha Rothwell. Pell wrote the comedy “Sisters,” which starred Poehler and Tina Fey, and was based on her own childhood experiences. Pell wrote and produced many episodes of NBC’s “30 Rock” and stars in Lorne Michaels’ NBC comedy, “A.P. Bio,” opposite Patton Oswalt and Glenn Howerton.

FILM FESTIVAL

The 31st annual Palm Springs International Film Festival has set “An Almost Ordinary Summer,” directed by Simone Godano, at its opening night film on Jan. 3.

The festival will close with “Military Wives,” directed by Peter Cattaneo, on Jan. 12. Both Godano and Cattaneo are expected to attend the festival, which will screen 188 films from 81 countries, including 51 premieres.

“An Almost Ordinary Summer” is an Italian farce in which a seaside summer vacation erupts into class and sexual warfare when two middle-aged grandfathers  announce to their  shocked families their plan to marry. The film stars  Alessandro Gassmann, Jasmine Trinca, Fabrizio Bentivoglio and Filippo Scicchitano.

“Military Wives” is an ensemble dramedy is based on a true story about the wives of deployed British soldiers who find harmony in a new base camp choir, where Tears for Fears is part of their repertoire, and become a global sensation. The film stars Kristin Scott Thomas, Sharon Horgan and Jason Flemyng.